Lack of chess sets is not the problem

Discussions regarding the 70,000 Free Chess Sets for Schools in England.
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Ben Purton
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Re: Lack of chess sets is not the problem

Post by Ben Purton » Sun May 31, 2009 8:43 pm

thats right, everything bad at the 4ncl is sambuca sharks.
I love sleep, I need 8 hours a day and about 10 at night - Bill Hicks
I would die happy if I beat Wood Green in the Eastman Cup final - Richmond LL captain.
Hating the Yankees since 2002. Hating the Jets since 2001.

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Ben Purton
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Re: Lack of chess sets is not the problem

Post by Ben Purton » Sun May 31, 2009 8:44 pm

but everyone on list 99 is in the other teams * points fingers around room everywhere*
I love sleep, I need 8 hours a day and about 10 at night - Bill Hicks
I would die happy if I beat Wood Green in the Eastman Cup final - Richmond LL captain.
Hating the Yankees since 2002. Hating the Jets since 2001.

Neill Cooper
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Re: Lack of chess sets is not the problem

Post by Neill Cooper » Sun May 31, 2009 9:03 pm

Richard Bates wrote:I don't see how anyone who scores 0/6 can be considered "champion" of anything. It's one thing to have specific prizes to challenge underparticipation among girls. Another to make the whole thing a complete farce.
They are actually called 'Supremo' and 'Suprema' at the Megafinal, and 'Ultimo' and 'Ultima' a the Gigafinal.

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IM Jack Rudd
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Re: Lack of chess sets is not the problem

Post by IM Jack Rudd » Sun May 31, 2009 9:51 pm

Ben Purton wrote:but everyone on list 99 is in the other teams * points fingers around room everywhere*
More list 99 references? Why is list 99 at all relevant in this context?

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Ben Purton
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Re: Lack of chess sets is not the problem

Post by Ben Purton » Sun May 31, 2009 11:08 pm

so many comebacks, all to brutal for this forum not to blush.
I love sleep, I need 8 hours a day and about 10 at night - Bill Hicks
I would die happy if I beat Wood Green in the Eastman Cup final - Richmond LL captain.
Hating the Yankees since 2002. Hating the Jets since 2001.

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Greg Breed
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Re: Lack of chess sets is not the problem

Post by Greg Breed » Thu Jun 04, 2009 9:02 pm

Alex Holowczak wrote:There are a few problems with it, though. I don't like how girls and boys are split up. For instance, one girl entered as an U18, and qualified from school with 0/7, qualified from the Megafinal with 1.5/6 (but 0 would have done), qualified from the Gigafinal with 0.5/6 (a bye), and finished last in the Terafinal. Yet she won £130, essentially for just turning up. Conversely, I got 5/7, 4/5/6 and 3/6 and went out. A little unfair, in my opinion. The boys are disadvantaged! But that's not really an issue, in the end she became interested, and she's gone from an 1100 rated player to 1500 (roughly) in the year since (she entered on the proviso that I taught her so she didn't embarrass herself...).
Hi Alex, I can understand your feelings in this matter. I too would be a bit p*ssed off knowing that someone else was going through to the next round without a single positive score when I had played hard to score half or more of the total points available.

On the flip side (as I've read further down the thread) you have strengthened your character as a result, but most importantly I feel, is the fact that this girl's undeserved victories spurred her on to improve with your help. This really brings a smile to my face as this is what it's all about - helping others - friends, colleagues, schoolmates or simply fellow chess players, to learn, improve, understand and most of all - enjoy the game.

I'm proud of what you have done Alex, not just in this instance, but previously in your dedication to the game despite possible ridicule from some school pupils with less common sense than an American President called G.W. Bush!

I wish you were in my neighbourhood as I could really do with someone like you from your age group to inspire kids to play, learn and enjoy chess (and bolster my diminishing club membership ;) )

Live long and prosper (chess-wise at least) :P
Hatch End A Captain (Hillingdon League)
Harrow Captain (Middlesex League)

Arshad Ali
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Re: Lack of chess sets is not the problem

Post by Arshad Ali » Fri Apr 23, 2010 9:16 pm

Mike Gunn wrote:I don't think coaching is necessarily the key. OK, this is just my experience (in a grammar school in the 1960s) but we had no coaching. One master was responsible for chess and was present at the school club one night a week and must have arranged fixtures with other schools but everything else was down to us pupils, including team selection, and we made our own way to away fixtures by bike or public transport. In my last year at the school I organized and ran the internal chess competition (inter house) and I produced training materials for beginners. Most lunchtimes we would play chess against each other and/or analyse a game from a newspaper or magazine. One of us (not me) owned a copy of MCO and we would discuss openings before school matches. The key to all this activity was the chess cupboard which contained sufficient sets and clocks to make all this possible. Many more resources are available today using computers and the internet. Coaching is good - but not essential!
This is an old thread but I'd like to respond. Coaching is not essential if the youngsters just want to have a good time moving the pieces around and engage in some friendly games. Their game won't go anywhere fast -- but for that coaching is essential. A coach can explain tactical ideas, basic endgames, opening ideas, and basic positional ideas that might otherwise take youngsters years to learn (if they ever do). I wish I'd had a coach when I was young -- instead of ineffectually groping in the dark. In addition, a coach can sit with a player to do the all-important post-mortem analysis of a serious game. A coach can give shape and direction to the chess efforts of youngsters.

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Re: Lack of chess sets is not the problem

Post by Arshad Ali » Fri Apr 23, 2010 9:24 pm

Tony Robson wrote: I agree, Brent, from our modest experience we feel too that lack of chess sets is often not the problem. Our problem is perhaps slightly different, but frustrating none-the-less.
1. I and two colleagues have taught chess to children from 4 to 18 since 2007.
2. We can provide chess sets and teaching materials at no cost.
3. We do not charge for our time or other expenses.
4. We have enhanced CRB clearance.
5. We are not members of the teaching profession.
6. Less than 15% of the 60 schools in our immediate area "do chess".
We have approached about 25 of these schools and they are simply not interested in receiving any outside help. As far as we can judge, they appear reluctant to deal with people not within the schools system.
Have any others found this in their areas of the country? Why do you think this is? How can we overcome this?
If you would like me to clarify anything regarding our experience, please just ask.
Yes, it chimes with my own experience. School bureaucrats deal with such proposals as just another unnecessary headache and one where they gain nothing -- so why bother? Independent schools are more open to such ideas.

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Re: Lack of chess sets is not the problem

Post by Neill Cooper » Fri Apr 23, 2010 11:42 pm

Arshad Ali wrote: School bureaucrats deal with such proposals as just another unnecessary headache and one where they gain nothing -- so why bother? Independent schools are more open to such ideas.
Most secondary schools like to have an internal champion for any venture (on the teaching or non-teaching staff). I don't think the school I teach at would be keen on outside people running a bridge club, unless a member of staff would also be involved. Primary schools are more open to such outside involvement.

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Re: Lack of chess sets is not the problem

Post by Mike Gunn » Sat Apr 24, 2010 10:28 am

Arshad, I'm not saying professional coaching isn't good, but you're wrong in saying that no useful progress can be made without it. I learned the moves of chess at the age of 13 from a book I borrowed from the local library. My parents actually discouraged my interest in the game and I had no opportunities to play. When I was 15 I went in to the lower 6th and was joined by a group of boys from local secondary modern schools who all were active players and it was because the school had chess sets available that we played in the lunch hour. I borrowed Edward Lasker's "Modern Chess Strategy" (still a good beginners/ intermediate book in my view) from the local library and when I was 16/17 I was teaching other kids to play/improve using teaching handouts I prepared myself on tactical motifs (double attack etc), how to mate with king and rook etc. The key to all this activity was actually the availability of chess sets!

Neill Cooper
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Re: Lack of chess sets is not the problem

Post by Neill Cooper » Sat Apr 24, 2010 12:09 pm

Arshad Ali wrote: Coaching is not essential if the youngsters just want to have a good time moving the pieces around and engage in some friendly games. Their game won't go anywhere fast -- but for that coaching is essential.
It depends what you mean by 'anywhere'. I think to become a GM you will need coaching, but very few are of that ability.
I and a few friends took up chess at school aged 14, with no formal coaching but lots of playing in events and at school I was about 170 by age 18, and I was not the best.

Arshad Ali
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Re: Lack of chess sets is not the problem

Post by Arshad Ali » Sat Apr 24, 2010 12:44 pm

Mike Gunn wrote:Arshad, I'm not saying professional coaching isn't good, but you're wrong in saying that no useful progress can be made without it.... The key to all this activity was actually the availability of chess sets!
For sure there have to be chess sets. I'm not saying no progress can be made without coaching -- just that progress without it tends to be fumbling, inefficient, and groping in the dark. It's like taking some bright 16-year-olds and telling them they have to prepare for their math A levels by themselves. Some might even get halfway decent grades but all would have profited from an experienced teacher who explained the key concepts carefully, pointed out what was important and what was trivial, and drilled them mercilessly in the kind of exam questions likely to appear, aiming for both speed and accuracy. In chess, the kind of player who was 170 by the age of 18 might have been 210 with directed coaching. The player who was 130 might have been 165. Speaking for myself, I wish I'd had expert help. If with nothing else, just a guide to the literature and pointing out what the lacuna in my own background were. As it is, the diagnosis of the gaps in my background has been done slowly by myself over the years and it's taken time to learn how to learn and how to use the literature. In his book, "Searching for Bobby Fischer," Fred Waitzkin points out the differences between the USA and Soviet Union. In the former, many players remain experts for a long time before eventually becoming weak masters (I know several such Americans myself). In the USSR, such players, with directed training, used to become grandmasters. Dvoretsky used to specialise (maybe still does?) in taking 2200 and 2300 players and transforming them into 2600 players in a couple of years. Admittedly this is for players with genuine talent and aiming for the heights. But in my exceedingly humble opinion, players at all levels of aptitude greatly benefit from directed help. This is not even a counterintuitive proposition -- just plain common sense.

The problem, I think, is that school establishments are unaware of the benefits a systematic chess training makes to overall intellectual development -- and by implication to overall academic performance. Or perhaps they are aware but bureaucratic indifference and inertia prevail. Chess is treated as merely a leisure-time activity where the students just need to be provided with sets and can then be expected to fend for themselves. But what can be done about this I have not the foggiest.

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