An unexpectedly fun purchase from our recent trip to Math ‘n’ Stuff was No Stress Chess. This set has a few tricks to make chess approachable for kids. First, the board diagrams where all of the pieces go at the beginning of the game, eliminating one piece of memorization. But most importantly, the set comes with a deck of “chess cards.” Each card describes how a single piece moves. When you start playing No Stress Chess, you draw a card and move that piece. For example, if you draw a pawn card, you move a pawn. If you draw a knight, you move a knight. This one simple trick tames the complexity of chess and makes it something a six-year-old can approach.
Once you get bored with draw-a-card, play-that-piece chess, you graduate to playing chess with a hand of three cards. It gives you a little more room to think about strategy, but is still far less complex than regular chess. This is the level Alex is on now. As you’d expect, I get a little fatherly thrill each time Alex asks me to play a game of chess, which he’s done obsessively since we got the set. This purchase has been as much fun for me as for him!