The Story of our stories
In 2008, Tyler got the “Chess Specialist” job at “The Washington Market School” in Manhattan, which meant he was in charge of teaching chess to 150 children every week. Tyler started teaching chess the traditional way to students and something kept happening. He would show a group of children a King and say, “this is the King. It moves 1 square a time in any direction it wants”. Simple enough, right? Over and over, group after group, children would ask “why?”. “Why does the King move 1 square at a time?”. At first Tyler ignored the question, as it seemed trivial. But the question kept coming up.
One special day this happened. “This is the king, it moves 1 square at a time”. Tyler explained. Sure enough a student asked, “Why?”. Without any thought, or plan Tyler blurted out, “because he has a huge belly!”.
“Really?” the students responded. “Yes!” Tyler improvised, “this is King Fischer, and he has such a big belly because he ate pancakes for breakfast. 10 Pancakes!”. The students roared with laugher. "Yes! And for lunch King Fischer had 20 Sandwiches”. The Students laughed and laughed…this was working. “And for dinner King Fischer ate 30 pizzas”. The children could not control their laughter.
“Here is King Fischer”. Tyler put the white king on the chess board. “This is how he likes to move, uhhhhgggg!”. Tyler made the noise of a man who just ate 30 pizzas and scooted the king over 1 square. The children gladly imitated the playful exercise and. just like that. everyone discovered how King Fischer ‘likes’ to move. The next week the children demanded another story.
Tyler took that core idea, stories that explain why chess pieces move the way they do, and wrote 20 stories that explained chess.
Then Tyler's best friend, Jon, moved to New York and Tyler wanted to give Jon some chess lessons. Jon is an amazing storyteller and awesome with kids, but not a competitive chess player. The more Tyler and Jon thought about it, they realized being a great storyteller was the most important quality for teaching in this new way. Could a non-chess player actually be an amazing chess teacher? Tyler gave Jon 5 lessons. In 3 months, Jon had 20 clients.
Tyler and Jon wrote the stories down; "The Chess at 3 Core Curriculum" was born. Tyler and Jon began to train people who were good with children to be chess teachers. Their first year they had 5 teachers. Their second year they had 10 teachers. By their third year they had 20 teachers. In 2015 Chess at 3 will have close to 40 tutors working all over the world with dozens of schools licensing their curriculum each year."