Skip to main content

Exercise:: Pair Chess Game


Some years ago I designed this exercise for a Pair Programming simulation using the media of the game of chess.  The idea was to have a pair on each side of the board, they would work together to finish a famous game against their opponents (a pair also).

I never used the exercise because the developers I was working with didn't know the game of chess, and didn't seem interested in the simulation.   If you use this please let me know how it works out.




Garry Kasparov (White) vs X3D Fritz Computer (Black)
Man-Machine World Chess Championship 2003
Game 1 (after 31 ... Bxa2)
White to move





Instructor material for Chess Game Pairing Exercise

Required Materials

Chess board and pieces (one per 4 students)
Timers (optional)
Diagram of an in-progress chess game(s) (attached)

Introduce the Exercise

Pair programming is generally thought of as an XP (extreme programming) practice.  In true Agile form we are borrowing a practice that has value to use in our process.  Pair programming is when two (or sometimes more) developers work on a task simultaneously at the same computer.

This exercise is designed to give you the feel of pair programming. You will pair up with another person and become a chess playing savant team!  Each team will be pitted against another team to solve a world class chess problem.  Setup the chess board in the exact position described on the problem sheet.  Then playing as a pair (perhaps with limitations – see variations below).

The Exercise – Part One: Setup the board 

Instruct the students to retrieve a chess set and the sheet describing the chess problem.

Their task is to setup the chess board as diagrammed.  

Exercise – Part Two:  Let the games begin!

The instructor can give limitations or not, constraints, rules, etc.
Then they are to begin – White moves first! 

Variations
  • Only allow the pair that is in play to talk, the pair not moving must stay silent.
  • No talking and strict turn taking for first 5 moves, then instructor announces that communication and cooperation may take place for the rest of the moves.
  • One minute time limit per move.
  • Pair beginners with experts – have the group self rate from 1 – 10.
Debrief the Exercise

The only reason to do an exercise is to get to the debrief stage.  This is where students will apply the simulation to the “real world” and learning will happen. Please give at least 20 minutes for the debriefing phase.

Facilitator will start the debriefing – ask open-ended questions such as:
  • What happened during the exercise?
  • What did you notice about the act of pairing in a traditionally solo activity?
  • Which activity was harder, more fun, required more concentration, stimulated creativity, produced more interesting results?
  • What do you like/dislike about pairing?
  • How did you decide to what moves to make – did you talk? Did you test out move?
  • Did you find that one partner lead and the other followed, did the lead change?
  • How does this simulation compare to the task of programming?
  • What lessons can you learn?
The debrief should take 10 – 30 minutes (if the students don’t have anything to discuss, then it was not very instructive).

Major points of the exercise:  

Pairing can be more fun, more creative.  Problem solving is creative and one person’s idea can spark better ideas in another person.  To effectively pair one must take turns, and communicate their ideas and intentions, they must actively involve the partner.




Bobby Fischer (white) vs Greenblatt Computer (black)
1977 Computer Match
White to move














See Also:

Globe Chess Board


Post a Comment

Most Popular on Agile Complexification Inverter

Software Development terms applied to Home Construction

Let's Invert the typically wrong headed view of Software Development project management as a construction project.  We can map it the other way just to see if it works... to have some fun, to explore the meaning of phrases we toss around quite frequently.


Normally Project Management terms come from a construction domain.  We are going to apply the lexicon of modern software to the construction of a home.  We will follow the construction project and meet some of the people doing the work.

This is a very small (8 homes from $600,000 skyward) program in my 30-40 year old neighborhood.

About 6 months ago I saw the programs landing page go up.  It gives casual observers and some of the stakeholders a general idea of the intent of the program.  And most importantly who to contact for additional information if you happen to be interested in their products.

The Refuge program has 8 product projects and has them running independently.  Yet much of their DevOps infrastructure has already b…

Where is Shakespeare When We Need Him?

We are desperately searching for a term for people that connotes the best of human kind.  The creative, sensing, combinatorial synergistic, empathic solutioning persons that have yet to been labeled with a role name that works.

Some of the old terms:
Staff, Workforce, Human Resource, My Team, Army, Company

Shakespeare created 1700 words in his time.  He mutated verbs to nouns, and vice-a-versa, transformed verbs into adjectives, and formed words from whole cloth never before heard.  This skill is rare, but there is a poet that can create the term we need in the twenty-first century.

What should this term define?

21st Century Human Resource; the generalizing specialist.

Yes, but what more?  What less?

Suggest your poetry in the comments, let us see if we cannot do 1/1700 as well as The Bard.

By-the-way; who create the phrase "coin a word"?



A TED Play List - How do you create new words
6:52
Erin McKeanGo ahead, make up new words! In this fun, short talk from TEDYouth, lexicographer Er…

a little feedback please...

some feedback please...
How do you like the new look and feel of our site?
  ___)  nah (I like the old one better - bring it back)
  _X_)  yeah (much cleaner and easy to navigate)



powered by Typeform
See Also:

One Dark and Stormy during a Hurricane

I'm from the Carolina's where legend has it that our family commonly just hunkered down in the home on the coast and waterways than to head for inland shelter. Now that's from the old school days of barely improved (read paved) roads. They counted a storms severity by how high on the back porch steps (about 15 - top to ground) the water reached.  I don't recommend this action in todays world of long range forecast and transportation options.

I do recommend a drink or two in a hotel bar, far far away.

This is the week that Harvey came ashore in Texas.  I live on a hill in the little old town of Grapevine outside Dallas and Fort Worth.  And thank you all for letting me know that a storm is coming... I didn't get out and walk Malibu before the rain hit, so I grabbed a hat and we went anyway.  Much nicer walk with the drizzle, I'd say.

I'll raise a glass to you - if you were not smart enough to do the responsible thing, at the last responsible moment.

I do re…

Elements of an Effective Scrum Task Board

What are the individual elements that make a Scrum task board effective for the team and the leadership of the team?  There are a few basic elements that are quite obvious when you have seen a few good Scrum boards... but there are some other elements that appear to elude even the most servant of leaders of Scrum teams.









In general I'm referring to a physical Scrum board.  Although software applications will replicated may of the elements of a good Scrum board there will be affordances that are not easily replicated.  And software applications offer features not easily implemented in the physical domain also.





Scrum Info Radiator Checklist (PDF) Basic Elements
Board Framework - columns and rows laid out in bold colors (blue tape works well)
Attributes:  space for the total number of stickies that will need to belong in each cell of the matrix;  lines that are not easy eroded, but are also easy to replace;  see Orientation.

Columns (or Rows) - labeled
    Stories
    To Do
    Work In P…