‘Chess on Earth’ is a children's picture book, written and illustrated by Daniel Weil. Doubling up as a first chess set, it provides an imaginative and very unique way of introducing pre-school children to the game of chess.
Whereas the traditional way of teaching chess involves instructions which attempt to explain the complex rules and moves, ‘Chess on Earth’ uses storytelling to capture young readers’ imaginations, at the same time as immersing them in the basic principles of the game.
Published by independent children’s publisher Owl & Dog Playbooks, the beautifully crafted hardback book opens up to become a chessboard with push-out chess pieces. Influenced by classic rhyming books, ‘Chess on Earth’’s playful text was written by Daniel for parents to read to children and provides an excellent opportunity for both to share some off-screen bonding.
‘Chess on Earth’ could be described as ‘the game before chess’ as it imagines the origins of the game through a narrative so that children can learn the moves through play.
The book takes inspiration from the origin of chess and early versions of chess pieces in Persia and Islam in the 10th Century, which were non-figurative and geometric; as well as the playful and very characterful 12th Century Lewis Chessmen. Whereas the classic game of chess has black and white as two opposing sides, ‘Chess on Earth’ features day and night. Nature features strongly throughout, and the emphasis is on the joy of playing the game, changing the landscape and connecting to the planet.
It’s widely thought that playing chess can help children strengthen their intuition and problem-solving skills, enhance their memory and encourage creative thinking. However, at school level chess might already be stereotyped as complicated, leading many children to miss out on the benefits of learning and playing the game. ‘Chess on Earth’ is created to appeal to all children, encouraging them to develop a lifelong love of chess through its playful and imaginative storytelling format.