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Ho Math Chess Research and Articles > My Experience of Using Ho Math and Chess Teaching Set vs.Traditional Chess Set

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4 Feb 2008

My Experience of Using Ho Math and Chess Teaching Set vs. Traditional Chess Set
Frank Ho
Canada certified math teacher and founder of Ho Math and Chess Learning Center, Canada
Toward the end of 2007, I released the innovative chess teaching set Ho Math and Chess Teaching Set using Geometry Chess Symbols to indicate each chess piece’s move buy marking GCS on the surface of each uniformed look of chess piece.
My idea of creating this set is to use the symmetry lines of a square to show how each piece is supposed to move - an idea of “what you move is what you see”.
After my use of this set and teaching children for several months, I have some surprising and interesting anecdotes to share.
  1. Old dogs can not learn new tricks.
I have used the symbols of my invented Geometry Chess Symbol in my workbooks and created math and chess integrated worksheets and most children found that they are far more interesting than traditional worksheets. The most interesting is I intermixed Geometry Chess Symbols and traditional chess fonts in one workbook and children as young as 4 years old have no problems to accept both “symbols”. Those children who have never learned chess are accepting Ho Math and Chess with no problems at all and they found it is much easier to learn.
In contrast, I have some teens who have been playing the traditional chess set for a while and frowned at my invented chess set, despite I assured that the difference is only the look and the moves of each piece is marked so it is actually easier. But some of them remain unconvinced and are unwilling to even give a try, why? Their minds have fixed and told them to reject it without even trying. The other problem is their brains have been trained to accept “figures” not “lines” so the adjustment perhaps is difficult for some who have been playing 3-D figurine chess for their life.
It is interesting to note that in the past Chinese had created 3–D figurine Chinese set just like the way western traditional chess set has been created but the 3-D Chinese set was never popular. Is this because we only like to use the “instrument” the first time was introduced unless a vigorous marketing campaign has been put on? I had brought on the question that why some children still use their first–learned language to do math computation even when their mother-tongue language is already very rusty? Is there a so called “imprint’ effect on this kind of learning process? Perhaps this will be interesting research topic.
  1. The effect of using Ho Math and Chess Teaching Set is far more than a mere comparison of likeness or not to traditional chess set. 
When moving a queen using traditional chess set, children would have to “translate” the image of a queen to the “moves” of how a queen is supposed to move. So my belief is there is an information “translation” retrieval process in ones’ brain. On the other hand, when using Ho Math and Chess Teaching Set, the moves are visually marked on each piece, the “translation” from a figurine to “moves” is eliminated, this perhaps explains why a child as young as 4 years old can learn chess much easier by using Ho Math and Chess Teaching Set.
I have observed that those children who can come up with answers directly when working on multiplications without having to going through a thinking process of using “tips”, “skip counting”, or “fingers manipulations” can find answers much quicker and also they can do reverse multiplication much easier, i.e. to find the factors of a number such as to find the factors of a number 64. I believe this has to do how a human process information, to find answers of all factors of 64 by going through “tips” or “skip counting”, or “finger manipulations” then the information is processed in a sequential way and the repertoire of information between factors and products is not “imprinted” in children’s brain so the computation power is not as strong as one trained with “indexed’ information retrieval that is the children can recall answers instantly and directly without delay by retrieving information stored in their brain.
The reason I brought my math teaching observation is to say that there could be a hidden advantage for children who have used Ho Math and Chess Teaching set. They will be able to directly retrieve the information about moves without delay. The learning curve is cut dramatically when using Ho Math and Chess Teaching Set.
  1. Why children have no problem to switch from Ho Math and Chess Teaching Set to traditional chess set? 
Children have no problem to switch from using Ho Math and Chess Teaching Set to traditional chess set and I am not abandoning traditional chess set at all but only stress that Ho Math and Chess Teaching Set is very good in teaching children chess. It puzzles why children can adapt to the use of playing chess from Ho Math and Chess Teaching Set to traditional chess set so easily?
Ho Math and Chess Teaching Set are all about lines and line segments and traditional chess set are 3 D objects and their moves have to be taught and remembered. These two types of designs represent very different images in children’s brain. So what effects would have on children when they have been trained by these two very different types of instruments? This again represents an interesting research topic.
There are now two types of Chinese characters writings and for those who were trained to read simplified version seem to have less difficulty to read the traditional Chinese characters. On the contrary, those who were only taught traditional Chinese characters would have more difficulty to read simplified Chinese characters, why?
From my point of view, it is not a decision to use Ho Math and Chess Teaching Set or not rather it is a decision to see when to use it. For example, for some children it is much easier to use training wheels to learn how to ride a bike. Ho Math and Chess Teaching set is like a pair of training wheels for children who find it is much easier to learn how to ride a bike by using training wheels.
In my own experience I find that it is much easier for young children as young as 4 years old to lean chess without pain by using Ho Math and Chess Teaching Set, so why not use it? Later on, if children decide to use traditional chess set, then it is fine too since the traditional chess set is an international standard.
Ho Math and Chess not only uses Ho Math and Chess Teaching Set to train children how to play chess, this set of patent applied Symbolic Chess Symbols is also integrated into its math program to make math learning much fun and interesting. 
More fun math and information can be found at www.mathandchess.com.

Frank Ho


Ho Math Chess at Home = Math + Chess + Puzzles = A fun place to learn math at home.

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