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Ho Math and Chess Teaching Set Review by Kathy Gelzer

Frank Ho
Ho Math and Chess
Room #4, 2265 West 41st
Vancouver, BC, Canada VCM 2A3

Ho Math is a beginning chess set. It comes in a little cardboard box (less than 4 x 4 x l inch) and contains 32 playing pieces and a thin plastic sheet with an 11-inch chessboard which folds into the box. The playing pieces are the distinguishing feature of this particular chess game. They are little square tiles, reminiscent of Mah Jong tiles, except these are smaller and less shiny. All of the pieces are engraved with line designs that indicate the ways the pieces may move. Thus a bishop piece has two intersecting lines in an "X" shape with arrows on all four ends. Half of the pieces are marked in red and half in black to signify the two players' pieces. 

No written instructions come with the game. The website contains some instructional videos, but the ones I viewed were a little difficult to see and understand clearly. On the website, you will also find information on math workbooks that are available. 

In my opinion, standard chess pieces are easier to tell apart because they are different shapes and sizes. Ho Chess pieces are identical except for the movement markings. Also, without some basic knowledge of chess, you would not be able to use this set to teach someone the game. Even if you knew what the specific markings on each piece meant, you still need to know the rules of the game: how to set up the pieces, how to capture, point values, castling, etc. My 11-year-old daughter, who knows how to play chess, was not able to play with this set because she needs to see what the pieces physically look like. The pieces were meaningless to her. Perhaps it would be different for a beginner with no previous chess background. 

I think Mr. Ho should include a chart with diagrams showing the various markings, the name of the chess piece, and how it moves and captures. Basic chess instructions would also be helpful to make the game a stand-alone item, not requiring the customer to go elsewhere for information before using the product. 

Beginners or those who have tried learning chess without success may want to investigate Ho Math and Chess Teaching Set.

Product review by Kathy Gelzer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, March 2010