Richard James on Junior Chess at S&B

National developments, strategies and ideas.
Paul Cooksey

Richard James on Junior Chess at S&B

Postby Paul Cooksey » Sat Apr 28, 2012 12:43 pm

The S&B Blog has been serialising a series of articles by Richard James on Junior chess over the last week.

He has presented his views by giving a series of plausible statements about junior chess, which he examines and responds to with a proposition. Often an apparently reasonable statement is brought into doubt.

I don't generally post in junior chess. I'm not really involved, and a wise man once said it isn't good to be bloviating on every issue. But I think when somone with Richard's experience and sucesses talks at length, we should listen.

Links and propositions below.

Paul Cooksey

Re: Richard James on Junior Chess at S&B

Postby Paul Cooksey » Sat Apr 28, 2012 12:43 pm

Part 1
1. England leads the world in junior chess
Proposition 1: England is way behind much of the world in junior chess, specifically in terms of strength in depth. We need to look at what’s happening in other, culturally similar, countries in Western Europe, and see how we can learn from them.

Part 2
2. All children should learn chess
Proposition 2: All children should have the opportunity to learn chess.

3. All schools should do chess
Proposition 3: Schools should think very carefully about what they want out of chess.

4.We should be encouraging chess in schools
Proposition 4: We should set up a network of junior chess clubs providing outreach to schools.

Part 3
5. Chess makes children smarter
Proposition 5: Learning chess in a methodological way may in some circumstances have a beneficial effect on some children.

6. Chess is a fun game for young children
Proposition 6: Chess is a game at which some young children, in specific circumtances, can excel - but there are many fun games children can play with chess pieces.

7. The more children who learn chess the better
Proposition 7: It’s better to teach a few children well than a lot of children badly.

Part 4
8. The younger you start chess the better
Proposition 8: If you start children too soon or don’t teach them correctly they will give up after a year or so: the later children start competitive chess the more likely they are to continue playing as adults.

9. We should employ professional chess players to teach young children
Proposition 9: The earlier children start the more important it is that the teachers understand child development as it applies to chess – the best teachers for young children are often schoolteachers or parents armed with a manual.

Part 5
10. We should teach the moves in a couple of weeks so that they can play complete games
Proposition 10: We should spend 6 to 12 months, depending on the age of the child, teaching the other pieces along with board vision and control, and attack, defence and safety, before we introduce the king, along with concepts of check, checkmate and stalemate, and then another 6 to 12 months working on these ideas before children start playing competitive chess.

11. After teaching the moves we teach tactics, endings and openings
Proposition 11: After teaching the moves we teach children how to avoid one-move oversights through exercises teaching board vision and control, attack, defence and safety.

Part 6
12. We should put children into tournaments as quickly as possible
Proposition 12: we should only put children into tournaments when they have reached an appropriate level, and when they have sufficient emotional maturity to deal with victory and defeat.

13. Children give up chess when they leave Primary School because there’s no chess at their Secondary School
Proposition 13: Most children give up chess long before they leave primary school because they are not taught the basics correctly so fail to make progress.

14. Promoting Primary School chess clubs will produce a lot of strong players
Proposition 14: Promoting Junior Chess Clubs will produce more strong players. Promoting chess in Primary Schools, unless is it taught correctly, will produce weak players with only a short-term interest in the game.

Part 7
Conclusions and recommendations

John McKenna
Posts: 3105
Joined: Tue May 17, 2011 2:02 pm

Re: Richard James on Junior Chess at S&B

Postby John McKenna » Sat Apr 28, 2012 2:28 pm

Not a conclusion or recommendation but from a scan of the blog a couple of days ago I make the following observation - somewhere Richard acknowledged that - as in junior tennis - a considerable amount of organised effort and a measure of financial expenditure over a period of time has resulted in many less juniors reaching the top level internationally.
I don't think that either in junior chess or tennis it is understood why that is the case. On the other hand, many more young persons may be participating.
Last edited by John McKenna on Sat Apr 28, 2012 4:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
To find a for(u)m that accommodates the mess, that is the task of the artist now. (Samuel Beckett)

Roger de Coverly
Posts: 15375
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 2:51 pm

Re: Richard James on Junior Chess at S&B

Postby Roger de Coverly » Sat Apr 28, 2012 2:52 pm

John McKenna wrote:I don't think that either in junior chess or tennis it is understood why that is the case


Nigel Short tangentially muses on this in the latest New in Chess. He comments that he didn't have a coach in his formative years but that he trained in a harsh Darwinian environment, namely the weekend Swiss tournaments of the seventies. He also comments that prizes have not kept pace with inflation.

Prizes were a numbers game, just look at the head count for the Open section of the first two Surrey Congresses in the thread in the History section.

Richard James
Posts: 911
Joined: Tue Apr 17, 2007 7:34 pm
Location: Twickenham
Contact:

Re: Richard James on Junior Chess at S&B

Postby Richard James » Sun Apr 29, 2012 12:24 pm

Many thanks for drawing the Forum's attention to my articles, Paul.

Perhaps the lack of response from anyone connected with junior chess is symptomatic of our problems.

Meanwhile, Canadian GM Kevin Spraggett referred to the articles on his blog.


Kevin Spraggett wrote:The facts are clear enough: 99% of all children who are taught chess in schools in North America stop playing the game within 3 years. Other countries that use the same model have experienced similar results. There is something very wrong here. In 2008 David Lavin, soon after being elected president of the CFC (Chess Federation of Canada) asked me where were all the children from CMA's chess program-- that had been running for more than 2 decades--since the CFC's membership had actually dropped during that time!

The truth is that this is the reality of school chess in Canada and the US. The easy approach to teaching chess has failed. There is more to teaching than providing information and memorizing rules. The current programs do not bring in their share of members to the chess federations, nor have they tried hard enough to promote the game to our youngsters. What may be good for chess business is definitely not as good for the children who want to learn the game...

User avatar
Peter D Williams
Posts: 835
Joined: Wed Dec 28, 2011 2:15 pm
Location: Hampshire

Re: Richard James on Junior Chess at S&B

Postby Peter D Williams » Sun Apr 29, 2012 12:42 pm

Going to Richmond Junior chess club when Richard was there we learnt a lot about chess and how to help Peter.The chess club was also run in a friendly way for all standards of junior chess.
when you are successful many losers bark at you.

John Foley
Posts: 262
Joined: Thu Oct 15, 2009 9:58 am
Location: Kingston-under-Thames
Contact:

Re: Richard James on Junior Chess at S&B

Postby John Foley » Sun Apr 29, 2012 4:04 pm

I run courses for chess tutors at CSC http://www.chessinschools.co.uk/ and I couldn't agree more with Richard James's perspective on chess in schools.
Richard modestly fails to mention that his primary school chess curriculum is used by CSC.

User avatar
Peter D Williams
Posts: 835
Joined: Wed Dec 28, 2011 2:15 pm
Location: Hampshire

Re: Richard James on Junior Chess at S&B

Postby Peter D Williams » Mon Apr 30, 2012 11:07 am

In my view the ECF should approach Richard and ask for his help over junior chess.With all of Richard experience of junior chess over the years its seems plain daft not to have him involved or recognized in some way by the ECF? his advice would help juniors and the ECF form policy.
when you are successful many losers bark at you.

Richard James
Posts: 911
Joined: Tue Apr 17, 2007 7:34 pm
Location: Twickenham
Contact:

Re: Richard James on Junior Chess at S&B

Postby Richard James » Mon Apr 30, 2012 11:13 am

Peter D Williams wrote:In my view the ECF should approach Richard and ask for his help over junior chess.With all of Richard experience of junior chess over the years its seems plain daft not to have him involved or recognized in some way by the ECF? his advice would help juniors and the ECF form policy.


Many thanks, Peter.

I had a meeting with Phil Ehr a few months ago and sent him a copy of my article several weeks before publication.

I appreciate that he's very busy on other aspects of junior chess at the moment but I'm sure he'll get back to me when he has time.

Neill Cooper
Posts: 1122
Joined: Sun Feb 24, 2008 4:43 pm
Location: Croydon
Contact:

Re: Richard James on Junior Chess at S&B

Postby Neill Cooper » Tue May 01, 2012 9:36 pm

Richard has written with insight on the problems of junior (mainly under 11) chess in England. What is less clear is how we can take things forward. With Phil Ehr as junior manager lots of good things are happening, some of which are new others of which are developing existing activities. It obviously will take time for Richard's ideas on 'The Way Forward' to develop but he has not referred to some significant activities which are already happening.

Whilst there are not many junior chess clubs active in England, and certainly very few like Richmond JCC was in its heyday, there are some very active county junior chess organisations who have developed their own structured training of juniors. In particular I am aware of Kent JCA, Sussex Junior Chess, Berkshire JCA all of whom work with juniors of all abilities, from beginners up to those playing in the British Championship and graded around 200. I think a key aspect is having kept teenagers involved, as they are the ones who progress to the high ability and also provide role models for younger players.

Another asset that Richard does not refer to are secondary schools. We now have quite a few whose first team averages around 150 (see the teams lists form the national schools tournament http://www.sccu.ndo.co.uk/schoolsres.htm). Some of these schools are already involved in running events/clubs with/for younger players - either chess clubs or tournaments. I think (as ECF Manger of Secondary School Chess) that this should be encouraged. Secondary schools can also host training events (as Wellington College has been doing recently).

I think any training structure that the ECF does develop should include all the existing examples of excellence as models.

Paul McKeown
Posts: 3009
Joined: Thu Apr 12, 2007 3:01 pm
Location: Hayes (Middx)
Contact:

Re: Richard James on Junior Chess at S&B

Postby Paul McKeown » Thu May 03, 2012 3:06 pm

Neill Cooper wrote:Another asset that Richard does not refer to are secondary schools. We now have quite a few whose first team averages around 150 (see the teams lists form the national schools tournament http://www.sccu.ndo.co.uk/schoolsres.htm).


What pokes one in the eye is the preponderance of "posh" schools in that list.

User avatar
Christopher Kreuzer
Posts: 6224
Joined: Fri Aug 06, 2010 2:34 am
Location: London

Re: Richard James on Junior Chess at S&B

Postby Christopher Kreuzer » Thu May 03, 2012 3:50 pm

Paul McKeown wrote:
Neill Cooper wrote:Another asset that Richard does not refer to are secondary schools. We now have quite a few whose first team averages around 150 (see the teams lists form the national schools tournament http://www.sccu.ndo.co.uk/schoolsres.htm).


What pokes one in the eye is the preponderance of "posh" schools in that list.


Yeah. Still, it is very impressive that Wellington College have a 194 on board 5 (of 6)!

PS. The blogs by Richard are well worth reading!

Nick Thomas
Posts: 447
Joined: Sat Oct 11, 2008 9:56 pm

Re: Richard James on Junior Chess at S&B

Postby Nick Thomas » Thu May 03, 2012 9:55 pm

Christopher Kreuzer wrote:
Yeah. Still, it is very impressive that Wellington College have a 194 on board 5 (of 6)!


I should think a few of those are benefitting from chess scholarships.

Jim Wadsworth
Posts: 296
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2010 10:40 pm

Re: Richard James on Junior Chess at S&B

Postby Jim Wadsworth » Thu May 03, 2012 10:22 pm

Christopher Kreuzer wrote:Yeah. Still, it is very impressive that Wellington College have a 194 on board 5 (of 6)!


Whilst I have to declare a personal interest (see board 3) I think it's quite impressive that a state school - Reading - has a 150 on board 6.

Neill Cooper
Posts: 1122
Joined: Sun Feb 24, 2008 4:43 pm
Location: Croydon
Contact:

Re: Richard James on Junior Chess at S&B

Postby Neill Cooper » Thu May 03, 2012 10:46 pm

Jim Wadsworth wrote:
Christopher Kreuzer wrote:Yeah. Still, it is very impressive that Wellington College have a 194 on board 5 (of 6)!

Whilst I have to declare a personal interest (see board 3) I think it's quite impressive that a state school - Reading - has a 150 on board 6.

It is even more impressive that 2 state schools can have a 150 on board 6 (Wilson's School, but he has not yet played in the National Stages). [I have a professional interest as I teach maths at Wilson's.]


Return to “Junior Chess”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest