The Step Method in Chess

I stumbled upon a blog post that mentioned the Step Method in Chess, this piqued my interest and I began to research it further. Unfortunately, there is not a lot of information on the Internet, so I have tried to compile as much as I could find about this chess teaching program.

The step-by-step method has been developed by Rob Brunia and Cor van Wijgerden to teach children a Step-by-Step Chess Method to play chess. A large number of schools and chess clubs in the Netherlands and Belgium use this method for their chess lessons. The Step Method is intended to take students from the basics all the way to an approximate ELO rating of 1900 after the student has mastered step 5, and to an approximate rating of 2100 once they master the self-directed 6th step.

This method consists of six steps.

Step 1

Rules of the game and basic skills are covered in step 1.

15 lessons:

1: Board and pieces
2: Moves of the pieces
3: Attacking and capturing
4: The pawn
5: Defending
6: Check and + getting out of check
7: Mate
8: Mate
9: Castling
10: Profitable exchange
11: Twofold attack
12: Draw
13: Mating with the queen
14: Taking ‘en passant’
15: The notation

Step 2

Tactics and a basic introduction of strategy strategy are covered in step 2. Most exercises require 2-4 ply calculation. The student that has mastered step 2 can expect to attain a 1100-1200 rating.

1: Activity of pieces
2: Double attack: queen (1)
3: Double attack: queen (2)
4: The pin
5: Elimination of the defence
6: The 3 golden rules
7: Mate in two
8: Double attack: knight
9: Mating with the rook
10: Double attack: RBQK
11: Discovered attack
12: Defending against mate
13: The short notation

Step 3

Step 3 builds upon the first 2 steps. Strong focus on tactics and the pawn endgames are introduced. In this step supporting skills are introduced such as ‘thinking ahead’. Exercises in this level require 3-6 ply calculation. The student can expect to attain a rating of 1300-1400 after completion of this level.

Lessons:

1: Finishing the opening
2: Discovered and double check
3: Attack on a pinned piece
4: Mate in two (access)
5: The square of the pawn
6: Eliminating of the defense
7: Defending against the double attack
8: Mini plan
9: Draw
10: X-ray
11: The opening
12: Defending against the pin
13: Mobility
14: Key squares (1)
15: Pinned pieces
16: Threats
17: Key squares (2)

Step 4

The difficulty level rises in this step. More ply calculations are required to solve the exercises in this step. Most exercises in this level require 5-8 ply calculation

Strategic concepts are introduced via the endgame. This step contains lessons about material advantage and endgame strategy as well as weak pawn concepts.

The student can expect to attain a rating of 1500-1600 after completion of this level.

Lessons:

1: Advantage in the opening
2: Interfering
3: Luring
4: Blocking
5: Thinking ahead
6: Placing the front and back piece
7: The passed pawn
8: Eliminating of the defense
9: The magnet
10: Weak pawns
11: Material advantage
12: Chasing and aiming
13: King’s attack
14: Seventh rank (tactics)
15: Endgame strategy
16: Clearing
17: Queen against pawn

Step 5

For step 5 students the positional aspects begin to play more and more important role. There are lessons about pawn structure, the seventh rank, strong square and open file contain many strategic aspects. Exercises in this level require 7-10 ply calculation. Students can expect to attain a rating of 1700-1800 after completion of this level.

Playing according to a plan is important in chess, that is why it is discussed in some lessons about the endgame. They show how important the cooperation of the pieces is and how relative the value of the pieces can be. The lesson ‘Defense’ pays attention to some aspects which are almost by all the students insufficiently used.

Step 6

Exercises in this step require 9-13 ply calculation and the mastery of this step can leave the student at the 2000-2100 rating level.

It is not a manual for the chess trainer, but a self study book for everyone.

The difficulty level of the material goes up again. The solutions to the exercises are consequently one move deeper. A lot of attention is paid to strategy. This occurs to be and still remains a tough subject for everybody, especially the positions in the workbook. The endgame comes also back in some chapters. Studying it, is a good way to gain a higher playing strength. Tactics is treated in just one chapter.

Practical Application
So, how do you implement the steps method in your chess training? Well, you can buy the booklets from the official site or you can use the TASC chess training program. A word of warning about the program: it is from 1999, and while I have tested in Windows XP, I am not sure if it will work on Vista or Windows 7. There is a new version slated to come out in English in the very near future which you might probably want to wait for.

More info

Official Site

http://www.stappenmethode.nl/stepsmethod/index.html

General Information

http://www.scholastichess.com/stapplan.htm

Good practical info on using the method

http://chesstrainerphaedrus.blogspot.com/search?q=step

Exercises

http://www.stappenmethode.nl/stepsmethod/tekst_opgaven.htm

beginchess has written 145 articles

5 thoughts on “The Step Method in Chess

  1. hiddenleaf says:

    @Farbror: That CD is an english version of a new and improved version of TASC Chess Tutor, but it covers only Step 01. The original TCT covers Step 1 – 5.

    If you’re looking for the old complete and multilangual version, you’re looking for TASC Chess CD 2.

    It’s the same beginchess refers to.

  2. anon says:

    A humble note:

    Don’t forget to be always reading games. Exercises are absolutely essential but your game can become dislocated if you don’t keep up a steady uptake of complete chess games.

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