Losing 74 Nil and covid 19

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Alan Kennedy
Posts: 180
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2010 6:33 am

Losing 74 Nil and covid 19

Post by Alan Kennedy » Sat Apr 11, 2020 7:32 pm

An open letter to EC forumites

Dear Forumites

My daughter Abi is like many others locked own with her two boys, Asher and Jonah, aged 4 and 6 and her husband Dave. Dave fortunately has a job but Abi is climbing the walls as she now has to entertain her two boys all day every day (no nursery or school). She has posted an audio diary about this on BBC radio Derby explaining how she lost at football 74 – 0 to Asher – you can tell the pain in her voice.

This got me thinking what can we as chess players do to help mums like Abi at the same time as helping English chess thrive and grow. I therefore set up an online chess clubs for Mum’s like Abi and keep their children entertained, help them learn to play chess against their friends during the day on chesskid.com or a similar site and then when the pandemic is all over we will have a database of grateful parents who would be willing to join our chess clubs. The club combines me teaching the children, me setting homework for the children to complete and children playing chess against each other during the week using chesskid.com. We now have 20 children registered and playing chess even though we have only been going two weeks.

I have a vision to help other chess players do the same. If we got 1 or 2 players in each club repeating what i have done i calculate 10,000 children would be playing chess. We have literally a captive audience and an ideal opportunity to give back to our community – put simply “what did you do in the COVID 19 crises Grandad” To help people answer this question and set up an online club there are some useful resources for you as follows:
  • https://bit.ly/2xU0QsNis my vlog about starting the club in my local village. It starts off with a bit about Witney chess club and the people there and then moves on to comment about building a chess club and online chess club
  • The Witney chess club submission to the ECF in 2012. It tells the story of how we took Witney chess club from 5 players to be ECF club of the year on the back of amongst other things a clearly defined junior chess playing strategy https://bit.ly/ecf2012coty - do read some of the quotes on pages 7 and 8.
  • My daughter’s audio diary https://bbc.in/34A6rAU the part with Abi starts at 13.01. I have linked to this just in case you need confirmation as to what it is like for a young mother to be locked down with two young children.
  • A help sheet on the route map needed to start an online chess club with some resources https://bit.ly/resourcesonlinechess. Even the most nerdy chess player should be able to use this to set up an online club and make a difference to his community!
Why should we do this. I want to leave you with a quote from someone I taught to play chess 25 years ago ago

"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 got into the Devon junior chess team and also learned a lot from Tim Onions. We went on (despite his difficult experience of school) to get a first class degree in politics and a PhD in Business and leadership. I could repeat that sort of quote many times over. I would want other chess players to be able to quote similar experiences in 25 years time.

Do please get in touch if you need any help to start an online chess club but above all please stay safe.

Best wishes

Alan

Roger Lancaster
Posts: 1147
Joined: Tue Mar 17, 2015 2:44 pm

Re: Losing 74 Nil and covid 19

Post by Roger Lancaster » Sun Apr 12, 2020 10:48 am

Alan

I applaud the sentiments in your letter - it's a very small silver lining in a very black cloud but chess does have the advantage of being able to continue, albeit only online, when many other activities have had to close down.

Having said that, 118 teams have just entered for the Online Junior 4 Nations so my impression is that most junior-only clubs, and most integrated adult-and-junior clubs such as my own, have already migrated online. They have been joined there by schools and other groupings. With teams of four, that's something approaching 500 children. However, some 40,000 children enter the Delancey Schools Chess Challenge so that leaves a very considerable number who, although they presumably play chess, don't have an obvious outlet right now. And, from what I can make out, that's because may parents have no idea where to look.

So the question - or so it seems to me - is, how to come to the attention of [presumably] thousands of parents who would love to arrange some chess for their children but don't know how to do this. Or perhaps, still worse, have contacted their local chess club to be told something along the lines of "You have to be aged 16 or more to join us". The answer might lie in media coverage although, in our case, I'd have to report that recent coverage in both the local newspaper and local radio didn't result in any significant number of new faces. Perhaps new social media are more successful than the traditional ones. I'd be interested in others' thoughts.

Alan Kennedy
Posts: 180
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2010 6:33 am

Re: Losing 74 Nil and covid 19

Post by Alan Kennedy » Sun Apr 12, 2020 3:50 pm

Roger thank you very much for your post. It too was a silver lining amongst a black cloud. To build any initiative you need to address the limiting factors. There is underlying my post 4 limiting factors. 1 is to find the coaches 2. it to find the players and 3 is to resource the teaching material. 4 is to change the culture within our chess clubs if we want to keep the juniors (which is in turn linked to 1 above). Please bear with me if i deal with each one in turn.

1 finding the coaches - to my mind this is the major challenge. to quote from one dm i received "I really enjoyed the Witney chess club article, excellent https://bit.ly/ecf2012coty . I wish there were a few more people around with a bit of vision and energy. I guess locally, like many areas, we are quite good at one off events, but trying to put together something which is ,forward looking is rather more of a challenge for a lot of people.". The resources sheet described the sort of person who would make a good coach. My challenge to the chess playing community is to find 500 coaches who set up online chess clubs that coach on average 20 children. Let us assume that there are 10,000 chess players that would be 5% of the chess playing population. I find it difficult to accept that 5% of the chess playing population do not want to bring about change, who are outward looking and want to make a difference, and currently have time on their hands to give to the community. However they do not at the moment appear to be putting their head above the parapet.

2. Finding the players. I do not want to find those who play in the junior 4ncl I want to find children who don't play chess at a chess club. I have to say that is really easy and does not need to be done by the coach. All that is required is a few posts on facebook and the parents and children will come flocking to your door. If you have never done this - i will train you. It literally took me 10 minutes. The literally captive market is desperate for our product and ready and waiting to buy.

3. the resources - this is the easiest to solve. they are largely already there and i hear rumours that yet further resources are being developed that even the most nerdy chess player will be able to teach a bunch of children - as a start have a look at the helpsheet referred to above https://bit.ly/resourcesonlinechess.

4 changing the culture. that is probably the hardest to issue. It is probably indicative of the culture that the posts during the Phil Ehr era about the conflict amongst the ECF board received significantly more comment than this post here. I personally find that very sad and i have received a significant number of dm's describing such an atmosphere on the forum as "toxic". It is however sadly no doubt similar to the atmosphere in a number of chess clubs. To those chess players who post predominantly negative comment, do not give anything back to the chess playing community or indeed the wider community and come up with problems rather than solutions, i would ask you to look in the mirror and have a word with yourself.

It was huge fun building Witney chess club and i would want other chess players to experience similar fun but to do so requires a change in attitude. At the start it was very hard work - turning up to club nights when only Tim Partridge and i were there and sending out newsletters to just five people was a challenge but it was well worth it in the end. Why, read the comments on pages 7 and 8 of the submission our submission to the ECF or the quotes above. There is something very special about the feedback we received, seeing a player you taught to play chess when he was six get his grade above 2400, or have a parent come up to you with tears in their eyes to say thank you after their child has just one an England championship. I am sure other coaches would say the same.

So for those of you who have been reading thank you and i hope you can follow my dyslexic English. The challenge is there for our community to answer my question "what did you do in the COVID 19 crisis Grandad". I hope we can. It wont be for want of trying on my part.

Paul Cooksey
Posts: 794
Joined: Fri Oct 21, 2016 4:15 pm

Re: Losing 74 Nil and covid 19

Post by Paul Cooksey » Mon Apr 13, 2020 6:34 pm

Alan Kennedy wrote:
Sun Apr 12, 2020 3:50 pm
To those chess players who post predominantly negative comment, do not give anything back to the chess playing community or indeed the wider community and come up with problems rather than solutions, i would ask you to look in the mirror and have a word with yourself.
A sentiment commonly expressed, but rarely true. Negative comments here, and in chess in general, are almost exclusively from people who think things should be done their way, rather than people who are doing nothing.

I don't think this sort of post gets many comments since everyone respects the right of the poster to run their events their way, even if they are organising junior/ online chess differently themselves. Good luck Alan!

Alan Kennedy
Posts: 180
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2010 6:33 am

Re: Losing 74 Nil and covid 19

Post by Alan Kennedy » Mon Apr 13, 2020 9:45 pm

Paul Cooksey wrote:
Mon Apr 13, 2020 6:34 pm
Good luck Alan!


thanks

Alan Kennedy
Posts: 180
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2010 6:33 am

Re: Losing 74 Nil and covid 19

Post by Alan Kennedy » Sun Apr 19, 2020 5:00 pm

I have just heard that CSC have teamed up with Chesskid.com. The email says:

One million ChessKids - Free Online Lessons and Play to July 20!

CSC is delighted to announce the launch of our campaign to get one million children playing chess in the UK during lockdown. We have teamed up with ChessKid to offer 1 million free 3-month Gold Memberships* of their online platform. Every child of primary school age in the UK is eligible. ChessKid is a website and app that gives children access to interactive lessons, instructional videos, thousands of puzzles, and a safe environment in which to play chess online. Schools can find out how to claim a subscription for every pupil here (link given). The offer is also open to individual parents or carers and will be backed up by a national PR campaign. Please help us spread the word.

If you need further details do get in touch with Malcolm Pein and his team. Huge congratulations Malcolm that is an amazing achievement - well done.

David Sedgwick
Posts: 4262
Joined: Mon Apr 09, 2007 5:56 pm
Location: Croydon

Re: Losing 74 Nil and covid 19

Post by David Sedgwick » Sun Apr 19, 2020 6:26 pm

Alan Kennedy wrote:
Sun Apr 19, 2020 5:00 pm
I have just heard that CSC have teamed up with Chesskid.com.
Please also see Chris Fegan's announcement at viewtopic.php?f=7&t=10746.

Alan Kennedy
Posts: 180
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2010 6:33 am

Re: Losing 74 Nil and covid 19

Post by Alan Kennedy » Sun Apr 19, 2020 8:56 pm

David Sedgwick wrote:
Sun Apr 19, 2020 6:26 pm
Alan Kennedy wrote:
Sun Apr 19, 2020 5:00 pm
I have just heard that CSC have teamed up with Chesskid.com.
Please also see Chris Fegan's announcement at viewtopic.php?f=7&t=10746.
thanks David

Jonathan Bryant
Posts: 3290
Joined: Sun May 11, 2008 3:54 pm

Re: Losing 74 Nil and covid 19

Post by Jonathan Bryant » Tue Jun 16, 2020 12:04 pm

Well we seem to be on our way out of lockdown now (I suspect we’ll be heading back in a couple of months but that’s by the by).

How did you get on over with this project over the last few months?

Alan Kennedy
Posts: 180
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2010 6:33 am

Re: Losing 74 Nil and covid 19

Post by Alan Kennedy » Tue Jun 16, 2020 10:45 pm

Jonathan Bryant wrote:
Tue Jun 16, 2020 12:04 pm

How did you get on over with this project over the last few months?
I was very pleased with how it went. We got 28 children signed up pretty quickly and ran sessions for eight weeks but then doing two clubs each week as well as selling my buisness proved too time consuming and i had stopped when the children started to go back to school. The children however continued to play on chesskid.com and for example over the last 30 days they have completed over 1000 puzzles and 250 games amonst 16 active users. None of the were playing regular chess before started. What went well - the children and parents loved it we got a lot of good feedback. Using social media made attracting members very easy. I found the resources on the ECF certificate of excellence and Richard James site were particularly good. I did not use the CSC resources so much but I could see they were also very good. We also had good feedback on the social media and the video i posted on the experience got almost 90 views *see https://bit.ly/2xU0QsN The children learned alebraic notation pretty quickly so it made posting answers to the quizes in the zoom chat box a fun experience.

What could have gone better - i found it was much more difficult than teaching in a classroom even though Zoom was helpful. Learning to use chesskid.com was a real challenge because the parents were not used to chess software and we spent sometimes upto twenty minutes getting the children playing each other. Towards the end we got more profecient and i could set the children up fairly quickly and then go to each game and make suggestions. Replaying games to the group and analysing in the following week was however very instructive for the children as did doing puzzle. The blunder rate was however very high - again classroom teaching would have helped - it is easier to get children to sit on the their hands before they move if you are present in the room.

Overall i am glad i am very glad did it and the feedback we got was good and it would be a spring board to setting up a club in the local school if i can find the time. The fact that the chidren continue to play chess against each other makes it in self worthwhile. there were two or three children who i could see with the right tuition could be particularly talented ie county level potential - just a shame we could not give them more input. Thanks for asking Jonathan.

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