Getting Your Child Started With Chess

Chess is a game of all seasons and ages, wherein players pit their mental faculties and emotional maturity against each other. This is not just a globally popular game but also fun to play as a form of recreation. This is one game which makes a substantial impact on a child’s critical thinking and planning abilities. Emotional maturity can be developed very early in life if a child’s energies are channelled to this game. Studies have shown that skills learnt while playing chess are normally applied by children in their classrooms and daily life as well.

The right age to introduce children to chess – If you are planning to introduce your child to this game, here are a few pointers. There is no particular age at which chess could be taught. Some kids take to it like fish to water and others need a gentle initiation, though a good age to start is between four and five. This is the period when children take an avid interest to learn and explore new things. The goal should be to make it fun and easy to grasp and children used to playing slightly complicated board games will find it a little easier to pick up chess.

It is important to watch your child’s interest level in the game. If the child is just fiddling around with the pieces on the chess board, know that he/she is not yet ready to sit down and focus. Stop before you become too pushy or your child may stay away from the game forever. If your child has learnt the basic rules of the game, you can take the learning to the next level. Get a workbook for beginners and by the time the workbook is completed, your child will have the ability to identify a checkmate. This can be achieved with regular practice and will require your nurturing support constantly.

Providing Chess Training to Children – If you have an older child, training the younger one becomes easy as kids tend to follow and imitate their siblings. Online practice is another option that you could make use of. As your child’s interest and expertise grows in the game, it would be a good idea to get him/her associated with the local chess club. Interacting with kids in a formal set up will teach your child not just to improve their moves but also develop the social etiquettes of the game. As your child develops his/her skills of the game, it will allow you ample opportunity to guide them about the importance of honing intellectual abilities as opposed to the trending fads about physical appearances.

The next step is to check if your child is ready for tournaments. Keep in mind that formal tournaments take up a minimum of 8-9 hours. If your child is too young, say a 5 or 6 year old, be careful about their ability to sit through a regular 5 round game. Some kids tend to wither under the stress – so be prepared for temper tantrums. It is alright if your child is not ready for competitive tournaments.  As a parent you will know when your little one is mentally and emotionally prepared to tough it out in the competitive world of chess.


Caving Across the Globe

The deep dark underground and unfathomable abysses of the earth have always fascinated mankind. Most of us have grown up hearing stories of the subterranean caves and hidden treasures – some were mysteriously wonderful and others malevolent and cursed. All that theatrics aside, cave exploration or caving otherwise known as spelunking has grown into a popular sport for the adventurous. If you happen to like the great outdoors and don’t suffer from claustrophobia, caving can be a great recreational sport to try out.

Cave exploration should be done in groups. Do not try it out all alone. Different types of caves are spread all over the globe. Touristy kind of caves can be explored with family as they are safe and you need not be worried about kids wandering off. The other kinds of caves attract the daredevils. The more advanced type of caving will at times involve swimming underwater, crawling through narrow tunnels or simply walking through underground cathedrals of stalactites and stalagmites.

Popular Caves around the world

  1. Austria happens to have one of the largest ice caves in the world – Eisriesenwelt Cave. As it is made up of intertwined passages, the caves can get pretty chilly as the air flows freely across the chambers.
  2. The Krubera Cave in Georgia is another huge cave worth exploring. Access to it is through very tough terrain. Cavers have come back with tales of incredible flora and fauna. The subterranean cataract is home to some pretty interesting sea creatures.
  3. The Cave of Swallows in Mexico requires you to go rappelling down a great abyss of 200 feet. This is definitely not for the queasy stomachs.
  4. Waitomo Caves in New Zealand are exceptional. They are home to millions or glow worms which light up the dark interiors to make up for the missing stars.
  5. Italy is the home to one of the most magnificent grottos. Neptune’s grotto has the perfect stage lighting that Mother Nature could provide. The salt lake within adds to the grandeur.

Spelunking Equipment

If you are serious about caving – get the right gear. Get a climbing helmet suitable for protection against shock and impact. It should have the provision for mounting a headlamp. LED flashlights and headlamps are preferred by cavers these days. Additional backups of light sources and batteries are a must. Candles and waterproof matchsticks may seem prehistoric but can be life savers in emergencies requiring some form of heating source.

Clothing is a critical part of the preparation. Type of clothing to be used will depend on the geography of the caves that are being explored. Try water proof clothes if you are going to wade or swim through underground channels. Keep warm clothing as a backup to avoid hypothermia. A pair of tough shoes and gloves will complete your kit. Don’t forget to pack food, water and a first aid kit.

Of late the preservation of caves is becoming a big concern. Irresponsible cavers/spelunkers have been carelessly destroying the subterranean ecosystems which are very fragile. Cave conservation has resulted in efforts to educate caving enthusiasts as well as restricting access to caves that are sensitive to human activity.

Don’t let these restrictions put a damper on your caving spirit, enjoy the experience, respect the pristine underground world and just remember to take your trash home.

Origin and Growth of Tennis as a Popular Sport

There is still a strong debate on the origin of tennis among Egyptians, Romans and Greeks, but historians’ state that the game first began only in the late 11th century.  The earliest records about this game state that French monks used to pass their free time playing a crude handball game over a rope strung across an open courtyard. This was later picked up by locals who kept the game limited to open courtyards and balls were struck against the wall using hands. With time people modified the game and started wearing gloves with webbing to hit the ball. Further innovation led to nets tied on pieces of wood like a modern racquet but the ball was strangely made of wool or cork tied with string and cloth.

Once the nobility learnt the game from the monks and locals, the game attained further popularity and by the 13th century, there were nearly 1800 courts in France. Once English kings Henry VII and later Henry VIII developed a fascination for tennis, which spread to England and several more tennis courts were built. Around 1500, the net and handle morphed into a wooden racquet with net made of sheep gut while a cork ball weighing three ounces was made the official ball for this game. Early courts of tennis were generally indoors and the present format of lawn tennis developed only in the 1600’s.

Over the next few years people lost interest in the game due to the turbulent political and economic conditions until Charles Goodyear developed the rubber ball and players developed a likeness for this bouncy object. This rubber ball made the outdoor game more interesting and a new set of rules were made to accommodate the change in equipment. In 1874 the game underwent further changes when Major Walter C Wingfield patented both rules and equipment for playing tennis. By now the game gained popularity in United States and soon the game traveled to Canada, Russia and to Far East locations like India and China. Since tennis could be played in croquet courts it was readily adopted around the world.

Wingfield’s original tennis court design came under criticism for its hourglass design, so he left it to others to make the changes. The first Wimbledon tournament which was held in 1877 by All England Club had a rectangular court and almost the same set of regulations that are followed today. The French Open tennis championship that we know today was developed as a tournament for French nationals only in 1891 and was held by members of French Tennis clubs. Women joined tennis during 1897 when the first women’s singles tournament was held. In 1925 the organizers of French Championship opened the tournament to international amateurs and it was declared as the second grand slam title after Wimbledon. The first tennis tournaments in United States were held in 1881 and only certain local club members were allowed to play. Different tournaments were later held as men’s singles, men’s doubles and women’s singles and doubles followed by men and women mixed doubles. All five events were combined together as US open in 1970 which opened to the professionals from all around the world.