Problem Solving Steps and Vocabulary Martha Rice
Problems are all around! You can use the same problem solving methods to solve just about any problem, from word problems to logic problems to real-world problems in your own life.
Step 1: Evaluate the evidence Look at all the parts of the problem that you can experience. • What do you see? • What do you know? • What does the problem tell you? • What do you already knowabout this situation? Use the evidence to figure out what to do next!
Step 2: Hypothesize You may have heard the word “hypothesis” in science class. Hypothesis basically means an idea that you think can explain or answer a problem. When you have evaluatedyour evidence, you will be able to make a hypothesis about how to solve the problem.
Step 3: Experiment A scientist experiments to test a hypothesis about a problem or situation. People also call experimenting testing a hypothesis. Once you’ve figured out yourbest hypothesis about yourproblem, you need to test it. Unfortunately, your hypothesiswon’t always work out to solve the problem.
Step 4: Re-evaluation If your hypothesis fails,you’ll need to go backto other hypotheses andtest them. If you get really stuck,maybe it would help todiscuss the situationwith other people whocan help you figure out pieces of the puzzle that you’ve overlooked.
How does this relate to chess? • Chess is a big bunch of problems. • Every time you look at a chessboard, you’re facing a big problem. Which piece should you move? Why? Will good things happen as a result of your move or will you start losing? • Every move tests your best hypothesis.
Problem in ChessKid.com In ChessKid, you can see how to use problem solving steps to successfully solve individual chess problems.
Evaluate the evidence The computer has moved its white knight to c3. What is your best move? Notice all the details or “clues” or “evidence.”
Evaluate the evidence • Details for black… • Both rooks are basically blocked in. • Knight at g8 is probably too far away. • Bishop at c8 is basically blocked in. • Pawns are all too far away. • Queen at b2 could take the white knight at c3, but then the white bishop at d2 would take her on the next turn. • Bishop at b4 can take the white knight at c3, but it might get captured on the next turn, too.
Evaluate the evidence This is actually what computers are programmed to do when they play chess. The computer will evaluate all the possible situations on the chessboard. We do this, too, just much, much slower. With more chess experience, our brains can be trained to do this more effectively.
Make hypotheses Based on the evidence, you might make two hypotheses… Take the white knight at c3 with the b4 bishop, or Take the white knight at c3 with the queen.
Test the best hypothesis Based on the evidence, you might make two hypotheses… Take the white knight at c3 with the b4 bishop, or Take the white knight at c3 with the queen. Test the best hypothesis. In this case, the best answer is using the bishop to take the knight.
If the hypothesis doesn’t work… …try out another one! Hypothesis: Maybe advancing the pawn on c5 to c6 will threaten the king…?
Test that hypothesis… That didn’t work. Let’s try again.
Test another hypothesis… Maybe the answer is the moving that e1 rook up to take the e7 knight… …but that hypothesis isn’t the best answer, either. Let’s try again. Again...
Yea! This hypothesis works! This hypothesis works! I thought maybe moving the e1 bishop to c4 would be a good move, because I thought it would put the king in check. It worked!