Online chess for young players

National developments, strategies and ideas.
Nick Grey
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Re: Online chess for young players

Post by Nick Grey » Thu Apr 09, 2020 9:04 pm

When concentrating on ensuring children in need FSM have a meal to eat we realised the same 40% Primary age have no access to internet at home. challenging For Schools to educate them. Not as if benefits pay enough.

I'm pleased that your parents have a choice and you are tapping into CSC and Richard James. Best wishes. Nick

Angus French
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Re: Online chess for young players

Post by Angus French » Thu Apr 09, 2020 10:02 pm

Nick Grey wrote:
Thu Apr 09, 2020 9:04 pm
When concentrating on ensuring children in need FSM have a meal to eat we realised the same 40% Primary age have no access to internet at home. challenging For Schools to educate them. Not as if benefits pay enough.
Is that in the London borough for which you work, Nick? 40% of children of primary school age qualify for free school meals and 40% also have no internet access at home?

Alan Kennedy
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Re: Online chess for young players

Post by Alan Kennedy » Fri Apr 10, 2020 7:24 am

Nick Grey wrote:
Thu Apr 09, 2020 9:04 pm
When concentrating on ensuring children in need FSM have a meal to eat we realised the same 40% Primary age have no access to internet at home. challenging For Schools to educate them. Not as if benefits pay enough.

I'm pleased that your parents have a choice and you are tapping into CSC and Richard James. Best wishes. Nick
In answer to your original question how are children who do not have access to the internet going to learn then it wont be in an online environment but to see chess in this country expand we as chess players need to change the culture. If chess is seen as a game played by boring old people then it wont be an attractive option and the culture wont change. However if chess is seen as a fun activity which develops extremely good quality strategic thinking and careful thought parents will be desparate for their children to learn and children without the internet will learn from their peers. When i was aged 11 all 22 children in my class played chess every morning before school started. There were a few of us who were very enthusiastic chess players and that enthusiam spread to all 22. There were incidentally no teachers involved we did it ourselves (as happened did four years later when the success of our school cross country team brought 74 pupils voluntary to a training session.) Again there was no real teacher involvement the success was driven by a few enthusiastic pupils. Incidentally i am still running and play chess over 50 years later (both badly) so in my case (and i know anecdotal evidence is not good evidence) the enthusiam stuck. In both cases the school produced country and England level performances. In Witney chess club we worked very hard on the atmosphere to make sure people enjoyed playing chess. When we started it was really hard work but gradually we changed the culture, the banter increased, people started smiling and we became good friends. In the junior section it took a long time to get our first few players along but eventually once we got a few the parents would join as well so the fathers and sons could do something together and then people started coming to us from Oxford (16 miles away and strictly speaking in the wrong direction as usually people in Witney travelled to Oxford to partake in social activity.) We also set the tone - I remember one junior arriving from Oxford and I sat down with him with a position from "winning chess tactics for juniors". We spent about half an hour analysing the position and teaching him how to find the winning line (which was tough). After about 10 minutes into the exercise other juniors gathered round the board and joined in. Then about 10 minutes later some of the first and second team came along to contribute (it was a puzzle graded about 135-145 compared with the children then playing level of 90) and we ended up with about 10 people who had contributed to the discussion. The enthusiasm for solving the problem spread throughout the club. The child in question carried on playing chess well after i had left the club and the lessons of that day stayed with him for a long time.

I am very grateful to you for your best wishes. It does make a refreshing change for too often on the forum commentator focus on the negative and offer no encouragement. if the ec forum is dominated by such a toxic environment it will not be attractive to others nor will our chess clubs. We were very fortunate in Witney chess club that the management team got on well together, had similar views to each other on how to build a chess club and were very supportive of each other both in the chess club and outside of it. that took a lot of effort to achieve but it was worth it and created an excellent atmosphere. Each of us new our role and that worked very well. We set the tone from the outset. For example when started the online chess club i said to the assembled juniors "what do you say to your opponent if he beats you" eventually one of them said "say well done". I then posed to him the supplementary questions "should you call him a smelly xxxxx." they laughed and clearly they thought i was stupid! I then said "should you go into a sulk" and again they laughed. I did the same when I started our first tournament "what do you do when your opponent tries to win by kicking you under the table" - which happened everynow and again. For example i posted this video https://bit.ly/2xU0QsN no one on the forum said anything positive about it (even though 23 people watched some or all of it). - unlike some of the board of the ecf who were very encouraging. If we want English chess to grow the right atmosphere needs to be developmented and one of the places we can start is this forum - is that asking too much?

In terms of atmosphere We were also very tough on parents who were difficult - complaining about how their child had been "allegedly" badly treated and pointed out we were all volunteers and if they did not like what was being done they were very welcome to help out. (Those who complained usually were not involved). I mention the video not because I am fishing for compliments but because it illustrates the point. It is a sad fact that scandal gets much more comment than good work. I for one would like that culture to change not least because when i ask people "why don't you go on the forum" the answer is uniformly "because it is too toxic".

Changing the subject to that of videos I do not know how many of you have seen Carl Portman's video on chess in prisons - it is inspirational. https://bit.ly/2UYlxwK If they can get 8000 prisoners playing chess surely we can get 8000 children who are also lockeddown playing chess.

Like Carl I have received some extremely positive feedback. I remember the mother who with tears in her eyes sought me out to thank me just after her child had won an england title and the parents whose heavily dyslexic child, where the dyslexicia had not been disagnosed and the school had labelle the child thick, thanked me after their child won the school chess tournament. No longer could he be called stupid! that sort of thing makes putting in the work very worthwhile.

Anyway if you have been reading, thanks for doing so. I hope it all makes sense and is taken in the spirit it is intended ie to be helpful and inspirational rather than blow the trumpet of any vested interest or cause. Do feel free to give me feedback good or bad. As you gathered i prefer good!

Nick Grey
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Re: Online chess for young players

Post by Nick Grey » Fri Apr 10, 2020 11:44 am

Both of the boroughs yes. Some real poverty and wealth.

Battersea was poor in 60s/70s. A primary teacher taught me how to play chess to help boost maths/music spatial awareness.

Keep your enthusiasm and make it fun.

Kevin Thurlow
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Re: Online chess for young players

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Fri Apr 10, 2020 1:10 pm

"When i was aged 11 all 22 children in my class played chess every morning before school started. There were a few of us who were very enthusiastic chess players and that enthusiasm spread to all 22."

Many years ago, a member of my club, who taught at a Middle School, had started a chess club there and asked if I would do a simul there. I agreed, and asked how many pupils were playing.
"Oh, about 200."
"WHAT!? How many pupils are there?
"Just over 200."
"That's amazing."
"Well once enough got interested, everyone else wanted to join in."
"Yes, but even so..."

Eventually, he did get everyone playing. I have no idea how many continued to play. But they all seemed very enthusiastic.

As for the negativity and trollism which infest fora of many descriptions, it's probably best to try to ignore it. After all, you are trying to do something useful, if people just criticise and don't do anything useful, (and they may have an axe to grind) why should you care? Sometimes people make useful comments of course, so you don't want to ban comments altogether!

Alan Kennedy
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Re: Online chess for young players

Post by Alan Kennedy » Fri Apr 10, 2020 2:58 pm

Kevin Thurlow wrote:
Fri Apr 10, 2020 1:10 pm
Many years ago, a member of my club, who taught at a Middle School, had started a chess club there and asked if I would do a simul there. I agreed, and asked how many pupils were playing.
"Oh, about 200."
"WHAT!? How many pupils are there?
"Just over 200."
"That's amazing."
"Well once enough got interested, everyone else wanted to join in."
"Yes, but even so..."

Eventually, he did get everyone playing. I have no idea how many continued to play. But they all seemed very enthusiastic.

As for the negativity and trollism which infest fora of many descriptions, it's probably best to try to ignore it. After all, you are trying to do something useful, if people just criticise and don't do anything useful, (and they may have an axe to grind) why should you care? Sometimes people make useful comments of course, so you don't want to ban comments altogether!
Thanks Kevin very wise advice. My son Jonathan keeps telling me "dont feed the trolls". I do not think we have many trolls on here just people who might be more encouraging. I often find that when challenged people come up with positive comment and praise.

My online chess club has thus far had some very good feedback for example.
  • Well done for doing this!
  • It was really good, helpful and a nice way to play chess!
  • All good - very clear guidance and [name of child] was interested throughout. You are doing such a brilliant job, thank you so much
I mention this not because i want recognition but to encourage others that it is a project worth doing. All i did was explain opening principles, play a demo game with the children suggesting moves in the chat box and then did a few puzzles. It is just they are not used to playing chess properly.

If i can get an online chess club going, so can others so how about we aim for 5 online chess clubs in each county, which if they averaged 20 members would result around about 3000 children and their parents being taught to play chess. I will write to Mike Truran and others to see what the board of the ECF think. As I said earlier we have literally a captive audience and the opportunity needs to be exploited for the benefit of our country's children and our chess clubs.

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Adam Raoof
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Re: Online chess for young players

Post by Adam Raoof » Fri Apr 10, 2020 4:35 pm

I agree Alan! I have just started a Chess England Kids club (this afternoon) and I am already getting lots of applications - I want to run tournaments on chesskid.com. I have posted separately about this.
Adam Raoof IA, IO
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Alan Kennedy
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Re: Online chess for young players

Post by Alan Kennedy » Fri Apr 10, 2020 10:08 pm

Thanks Adam - i have some very heartening feedback. It got me thinking about how we as chess players should respond to COVID 19 crisis or to paraphrase a well known phrase "what did you do in the COVID 19 crisis, Daddy?". Is my village and family is anything to go by there are lots of young couples stuck at home with young children who would be grateful of any help they can get. Teaching a child to play chess can make a huge difference to their life to quote from a post on my facebook site which came quite unexpectedly as a result of me posting about the shipton and milton chess club "I'll always be grateful for you teaching me chess..... Those chess tournaments were very formative for me. They taught me to keep my nerve under pressure and something I could be decent at when school was very much not that thing..." The child in question was taught by me 25 years ago.

I see no reason why for example accross the county of Oxfordshire we could not get 10 online chess clubs going which would attract circa 200 children. I already know of four other coaches who are cable of teaching such clubs so finding others would not be that different. replicated accross the country would mean circa 18,000 pupils learning to play on the grounds Oxfordshire is about 0.08% of the UK population. Once you get that many the process becomes infectious. Is anyone out there up for the challenge? Figures above are difference based on different assumptions - dont mind which you use.

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