Common Sense Review
Updated December 2012

Solitaire Chess by ThinkFun

Practice classic chess moves in a fun, unintimidating package
Common Sense Rating 4
Teacher Rating (1 Teacher Review) 2
  • Main menu with Challenge and Quick Play modes and Tutorial button at bottom.
  • Puzzle in easy level with four pieces.
  • The player held a finger down on the knight to see possible moves.
  • Four levels of difficulty, expert shown.
  • Puzzle in expert level with eight pieces.
Pros
Simplifies chess for novices and maintains flexibility in play.
Cons
Doesn’t capitalize on the opportunity to teach real chess strategy, testing routines, or probability concepts.
Bottom Line
A great starting point for kids who want to build chess and memory skills.
Leslie Crenna
Common Sense Reviewer
Common Sense Rating 4
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 4

Clean graphics, easy navigation, a simple game concept, the ability to replay endlessly, plus 400 puzzles across four levels of difficulty give this app a wide range of appeal.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 4

The app can help develop memory, probability, and strategy skills through repeated practice. Hints respond by making the correct next move, which doesn't necessarily help kids strategize.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 3

A tutorial helps with basic moves, Solitaire Chess rules, and how to use hints, reset, and undo. Kids are able to reset all data and replay endlessly.

About our ratings and privacy evaluation.
What's It Like?

Solitaire Chess is an app that takes the basic rules of chess and combines them with classic peg solitaire: Make every move a capture and finish with just one piece. Faced with an arrangement of traditional chess pieces on a 4x4 board, kids drag pieces to capture others and test out various sequences until they find one that leaves only one piece standing. The difference from regular chess: Every move must be a capture. It's not easy; players will need to reset many times before finding the right sequence. Kids can choose Challenge or Quick Play (same puzzles, just no menu) among four difficulty levels with 100 puzzles each.

Tap and hold pieces to see where they can be moved, or use the hint button to solve puzzles one step at a time. Skip to any challenge without solving previous ones, reset all data (single user only), or replay each challenge endlessly.

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Is It Good For Learning?

As with chess, kids learn to test and remember sequences using probability skills and to consider powers and limitations for each move. With 400 total puzzles in four difficulty levels, Solitaire Chess offers plenty of challenge for any skill level. With just basic knowledge of chess moves, grade-school beginners will be able to solve the easy-level puzzles.

The tutorial splits up topics well: basic chess moves; rules for Solitaire Chess; and how to use hints, reset, and undo (kids will need to use reset routinely even though the text says "we frown" upon this). Trainer mode can be toggled off, but it's unclear what effect this has, if any. It would be nice if the game told kids when they were stuck, especially for new players. Although the app doesn’t include hints written specifically for each puzzle, students might enjoy the challenge of writing testing routines or hints that ask players to consider particular piece attributes.

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