Would it help if all eleven plus children were taught to play chess? At least playing chess would teach children the need to follow rules – because chess players can not make random and idiosyncratic moves. Think of your child working through a verbal reasoning paper – thinking ahead, conscious of the time while being both attacking and defensive. This does sound like an eleven plus dream scenario!
Chess players have a wide variety of choices during the course of a game. The choices, however, have to be made within the rules. Children can be taught a series of opening moves. There is of course an opponent. As soon as a player moves the pawn in front of the Queen, the opponent can think; “Queen's Pawn Opening Gambit”. This makes life easy because there a number of moves to counter the effectiveness of the opening.
It would be very difficult to win a game of chess if the play made legal moves – but did not think about the consequences. Chess is full of tactics. It must be possible to achieve check mate after a series of random moves – but it would make life more difficult!
One of the best things about chess is that it is a game.
We sometimes hear parents saying, “Oh yes, we try to make our preparations for the eleven plus into a game.” This is understandable because parents know their children. Sadly, however, the games have to stop on the day of the examination.
`Check Mate’ is but a few marks away for some poor children.
The Eleven Plus is governed by rules. Parents, teachers and tutors need to understand the rules. All concerned need to abide by the rules. It is essential that our children understand the rules. They need to try, for example, to complete as much as possible of the test in the time allowed.
Many Eleven Plus children would love to learn the King’s Indian Gambit! (It would make a change from some rather uninspiring eleven plus papers.)