Education & Review

A cat house

29 Jul 2020

Victor is a charming chess teacher, but his programme, Victor’s Chess House, runs slow and doesn’t allow to jump any single lesson, game or test, writes Philippe Kalman.

The house of Victor, the chess cat
The house of Victor, the chess cat

Victor’s Chess House

Age recommendation
5–10 years
German, English, Spanish; Castilian, Italian
+ includes mini games
+ exercises of increasing level
+ exercises are gamified
+ includes play against engine
+ enables online play
- smartphone
+ web-based
- whiteboard compatible
Latest version
2011 (level 1), 2016 (level 2)
System requirements
€6.10 per individual child and year, €4 + VAT per child for schools, free for teachers
Trial Period
Europe Chess Promotion

Victor, the cat, is the chess teacher. His house is the place where the game is learned. Victor’s house is full of chess. There are books, computers, clocks, and on the wall pictures of the most famous chess players in history. Victor will be happy to introduce the chessboard, its pieces and its rules.

The learner doesn’t need to read or even be able to read, because Victor can give all explications in spoken language, in four different languages actually. Victor’s lessons advance wisely and step by step. Level one has ten steps, and so has level two. For every chapter there is a lesson to learn, some games to play and a test to pass.

Victor and his chess board
Victor and his chess board

Only after everything is achieved the learner is allowed to move on to the next step. In the first step, for example, it takes a lot of time to do what is asked: to construct a chessboard, square after square, and to put every piece on the board with a delay of several seconds between each piece. Without completing these tasks it is impossible to reach step two. If the learner is not a total beginner and willing to go step by step, Victor’s Chess House is not the right place.

Philippe Kalman is a chess teacher and coach in La Varenne near Paris.
Philippe Kalman is a chess teacher and coach in La Varenne near Paris. (private)

Victor’s Chess House has been developed some ten years ago in Flash. This ancient and slow format will not be supported any more after 2020. A Javascript version is in the making and it is overdue. The whole presentation is fun and neat but, at least for now, way too slow. Is this meant to teach patience, since this is something a good chessplayer needs? I am sorry to say that, Victor: You are so cute, and very intelligent; but you are getting old!

This review reflects only the personal view of its author and its publication does not include an endorsement by the FIDE Education Commission. It is part of a ChessTech Special: Educational Chess in cooperation with the FIDE Education Commission and with support by FIDE.