Oct 15

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Chess House – A Schoolhouse Crew Review

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Years ago, when I was dating my husband, we talked about things we were good at that we could teach the other person. My husband mentioned chess and I said I would like to learn. I had never played before. I mentioned driving a manual transmission vehicle. He said he would like to learn how to drive a manual. Fast forward 15 years, and neither of us followed through on our teaching assignments. When I was presented with an opportunity to review the  Starter Chess Learning Kit from Chess House, I knew my moment had come. I was finally going to learn this intimidating game. My eleven year old has been playing for a while and my husband and father-in-law play well. “Now it is time for me and my 7-year old to learn”, I thought. We received this very nice chess set pictured below. My son was thrilled that our bag came in camouflage.

Chess Bag

About the Product: Starter Chess Learning Kit

 $39.95(prices are correct at the time of this post, but are subject to change)

Ideally suited for kids ages 6-12

Items included in the kit:

  • Elliot’s Chess School DVD 1 “Pawn Level”
  • Solid plastic chess pieces
  • Vinyl chessboard
  • Chess set carrying bag

These materials were tested with over 3,000 kids in schools and produced many national champions. The carrying bag is well-constructed and has zippered pockets for the pieces and the DVD cases with elastic straps to hold the rolled up vinyl board.

Chess Bag


We received the above items and immediately had to check out the kit. Luke ChessMy son went to work sorting the pieces and attempting to set up the chess board. I found an unexpected treat in the package – a chess house chocolate bar. The boys really enjoyed it!

Chess House Chocolate

The 49-minute video claims to be able to teach anyone in the family how to play chess well.A small booklet is included in the DVD case that gives complementary exercises to use after viewing each lesson. These exercises are meant to help you master the content taught in each lesson.  Elliott Neff guides you through 10  short lessons included on the DVD covering the following topics:

  • Intro to Chess – This lesson explains the layout of the chessboard, the movement directions and point values of each piece, and teaches you how to set up the chess board.
  • Pawns – How they move, how they capture and a strategy called ‘pawn promotion”
  • Rooks – How they move, how they capture and a strategy called “putting your rooks on the open files”
  • Bishops – How they move, how they capture and a strategy “open positions”
  • The Queen – How she moves, how she captures
  • The King- How he moves, how he captures and the ABC’s of getting out of check, the definition of checkmate
  • Knights- How they move, how they capture
  • Castling – an explanation of an interesting move in chess
  • Pawn Shields – teaches you how to use the pawn pieces to shield your most important pieces
  • Development – a concept of bringing all the pieces out on the board and learning how to use them as a team to win the game.

Our Opinion of the Product and How We Used it in Our Homeschool:

This was a rather unique review product. We have a cheap chess set that my husband and oldest son use to play chess on occasionally, but we liked the portability of this set from Chess House. The vinyl chessboard was unique because it can be rolled up and you don’t have to worry about spilling liquids on the board, tearing it or bending it. It am convinced it will last through toddlers and spills and will serve my young sons well until they can graduate to a more expensive set when they are older. I felt it was a perfect beginner set. The pieces are made of plastic but seem well-constructed. We popped the DVD in our DVD player and watched the first session together. My seven-year-old was very interested and followed the instructions given by Mr. Neff. My oldest son ended up coming in the room to watch and see if he could learn anything new from the video. We watched the lessons one by one and practiced the movements on the chessboard after watching the lessons. We enjoyed Mr. Neff’s enthusiasm for the game and found his voice pleasant. I liked that the lessons were short and to the point and I felt the video was well suited for visual and kinesthetic learners. The interactive chess board shown on the screen off and on during the lessons was very helpful. The visual learner in me was so much more engaged than just having someone tell me how to play chess. The illustrations were very useful and helped me and my son learn the game quickly. Gone was the intimidation and we were ready to play chess in under an hour of lessons! My seven-year old son grasped the concepts quickly and will grow in his skills as we practice more. We have a long way to go to beat my son and husband, but we feel much more equipped for the challenge after taking this course. I think we will consider purchasing the next DVD Elliott’s Chess School #2 Knight Level in the near future. We have lots to keep us busy as we continue to use the lessons and suggested activities in the little booklet to improve our chess game. If you are interested in learning to play chess or just want your kids to be able to play this educational game, check out the Starter Chess Learning Kit.  If you would like to read what others are saying about this product, click on the graphic below.

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