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Solitaire Chess

by Ronald A. Rowe | November 5th, 2010 | Product reviews

Solitaire Chess is a learning toy made by ThinkFun. It promises to be a learning toy to sharpen a child’s thinking skills, teach the basics of chess, and develop advanced chess strategies. It succeeds on two of three levels.

Solitaire Chess is not a miniature chess board; it is a partial chess board. The board consists of a four by four chess grid with full sized squares. Included in the game are ten assorted chess pieces and sixty cards with starting positions. The object is to set up the board according to the layout on one of the cards and to make proper chess moves until only one piece remains. Capture a piece with each move until only one piece remains and you win; leave two or more pieces and you lose.

The game does well on teaching basic chess moves. If your child is an absolute beginner who doesn’t know that the knight moves up two and over one, then Solitaire Chess can help. Once you’ve got the basics down, there isn’t much to improve your chess game. Because the pieces are all one color and any one piece can attack any other, the strategy element doesn’t quite add up – at least not in terms of chess strategy.

There is a strategic thinking and problem solving component. I think Solitaire Chess does succeed in a general brain teaser sort of way. Your child will probably breeze through the early set ups, but will find the later stages far more challenging. It isn’t that that game doesn’t deliver on its promised creative challenges. It is just that chess is little more than a motif for the game; it bears little resemblance to chess in terms of developing actual strategies.

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