Chess as a Sport in the UK

Debate directly related to English Chess Federation matters.
PeterFarr
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Re: Chess as a Sport in the UK

Post by PeterFarr » Wed Sep 18, 2013 2:41 pm

Paolo Casaschi wrote:
PeterFarr wrote:If I wasn't a chess player, I think I'd be pretty annoyed at Parliamentary time being used to re-define the notion of sport to include chess. George Osborne's name was mentioned - really? shouldn't he be spending his time managing the economy (ok maybe not, but as a point of principle).
As a chess player, aren't you equally annoyed with the amount of funding provided to some obscure sports? After all it's your money that the government gives away to archery, fencing and the likes.
Actually no I'm not, as I quite like those. I do take your point, I just think it's a hard argument to make. I agree with David Robertson.
Paolo Casaschi wrote:
PeterFarr wrote:Also, bearing in mind the high incidence of media references to the obesity of younger generations, lack of exercise etc., it feels like a very hard sell, in spite of Peter T's interesting points above.
I would not worry about that, in fact the ability to help development of children is probably the most important marketing argument in favor of chess.
Hmm, yes, but it's not about chess as a sport. Also whether chess actually helps children develop is a rather dubious argument - I don't believe there is any really reliable evidence on it (I think previous threads have discussed this - fairly sure David Robertson has said something about that too in the past).

David Gilbert
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Re: Chess as a Sport in the UK

Post by David Gilbert » Wed Sep 18, 2013 11:55 pm

PeterFarr wrote: Hmm, yes, but it's not about chess as a sport. Also whether chess actually helps children develop is a rather dubious argument - I don't believe there is any really reliable evidence on it (I think previous threads have discussed this - fairly sure David Robertson has said something about that too in the past).
Actually there is some published evidence in the international Literature. Two Abstracts, one from Spain and another from the Ukraine beneath:

Span J Psychol. 2012 Jul;15(2):551-9.
The benefits of chess for the intellectual and social-emotional enrichment in schoolchildren.
Aciego R, García L, Betancort M.
Source
Facultad de Psicología, Universidad de La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain. raciego@ull.es
Abstract
This paper examines the benefits of regularly playing chess for the intellectual and social-emotional enrichment of a group of 170 schoolchildren from 6-16 years old. It is based on a quasi-experimental design, where the independent variable was the extracurricular activity of chess (n = 170) versus extracurricular activities of soccer or basketball (n = 60). The dependent variable was intellectual and socio-affective competence, which was measured by an IQ test (WISC-R), a self-report test (TAMAI) and a hetero-report questionnaire (teacher-tutor's criterion) applied at the beginning and the end of the academic year. In contrast to the comparison group, it was found that chess improves cognitive abilities, coping and problem-solving capacity, and even socioaffective development of children and adolescents who practice it. The results are modulated, particularly in the area socioaffective, by the personal profile of students who choose practice this activity.

Fiziol Zh. 2004;50(5):80-6.
Effect of sport participation on the dynamics of attention parameters and successfulness of studies in school children of junior age.

Zaporozhets' OP.
Abstract
The study of dynamics of attention parameters in junior schoolchildren (aged from 7 to 9) going in for sports has established that this period of ontogenesis is characterized by further progressive development of attention, though uneven in rate. The age-related dynamics of change in attention parameters (its volume, efficiency, distribution and turning rate) in children having additional physical and intellectual load has been discovered to be identical with non-sportive group. The rate of formation of attention qualities in junior pupils having additional physical training is higher and more marked than in those playing no sports. This correlation is particularly prominent in 8-9-year old children. Additional physical training is one of the major factors contributing to pupils' successfulness at school. Children playing chess are characterized by the highest successfulness. The gymnasts' successfulness is higher than that of the non-sportive children of the same age but lower than in chess-players. We assume that the ontogenesis program of psycho-physiological functional development can be partially corrected by means of physical training, sports and additional intellectual loading which result in formation of a new perfected functional system responsible for higher psycho-physiological activity of sportsmen in relation to control group.

Brendan O'Gorman
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Re: Chess as a Sport in the UK

Post by Brendan O'Gorman » Thu Sep 19, 2013 12:23 am

But were the kids involved randomly assigned to the groups compared? If not, the research is worthless, isn't it?

John Foley
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Re: Chess as a Sport in the UK

Post by John Foley » Thu Sep 19, 2013 1:13 am

Roger de Coverly wrote:There's an old law enacted by the Baldwin or Chamberlain governments of the late 1930s which defines a sport as requiring physical activity.
Here's the reference
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/p ... 329-01.htm
The proposed change of legislation never happened.
I had a look at the Physical Training and Recreation Act 1937. I cannot see where it defines sport as physical activity. In fact, I cannot see where the word "sport" appears. That particular Act is about promoting physical training and recreation and it deals with facilities like playing fields, gymnasiums, swimming pools etc. Are we sure that this Act is the barrier to defining chess as a sport? Surely there has to be a more pertinent legislation or regulation. Some legal research needed here.

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Chess as a Sport in the UK

Post by Roger de Coverly » Thu Sep 19, 2013 1:29 am

John Foley wrote: Are we sure that this Act is the barrier to defining chess as a sport?
The current Speaker and those who helped advise the then Minister of the DCMS seemed to think so.

Sport England quote something from twenty years ago

http://www.sportengland.org/about_us/re ... _ngbs.aspx
When deciding whether to recognise a sport, the sports councils look to see if it meets the Council of Europe’s European Sports Charter 1993 definition of sport and if the sport is well established and organised within our jurisdiction.
Google comes up with
http://sportdevelopment.info/index.php? ... rnational-
documents&Itemid=82
which again describes a sport as requiring physical activity.

Perhaps the interesting question is how the French, Germans, Austrians and others have managed to sneak past this definition. Historic rights perhaps?

Richard Bates
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Re: Chess as a Sport in the UK

Post by Richard Bates » Thu Sep 19, 2013 6:37 am

Just out of interest, why is it thought that recognition as a sport would generate more lottery/government funding anyway? Isn't it Olympic recognition (and the prospect of Olympic success) that tends to be the precursor to that sort of thing?

Kevin Thurlow
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Re: Chess as a Sport in the UK

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Thu Sep 19, 2013 8:06 am

"Just out of interest, why is it thought that recognition as a sport would generate more lottery/government funding anyway? Isn't it Olympic recognition (and the prospect of Olympic success) that tends to be the precursor to that sort of thing?"

Yes - and most of the funding goes to pay for the compulsory drug tests!

David Gilbert
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Re: Chess as a Sport in the UK

Post by David Gilbert » Thu Sep 19, 2013 9:40 am

Brendan O'Gorman wrote:But were the kids involved randomly assigned to the groups compared? If not, the research is worthless, isn't it?
Research takes many forms. A large randomized controlled trial is likely to carry more weight as people are placed in control groups and that reduces the affect of confounding factors. That’s not to say there is no place for observational research, cross-sectional studies, longitudinal studies, interventional studies etc where there is no randomization. They are all important in building the evidence base. Richard Doll’s original epidemiological research was based on statistical data on the smoking habits of doctors. John Chanley’s total hip replacement spread around the world like wildfire, without randomized studies or control groups. It was enough that observational studies reproduced the same findings that after the procedure most patients reported their pain had disappeared and their mobility had been restored.

PeterFarr
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Re: Chess as a Sport in the UK

Post by PeterFarr » Thu Sep 19, 2013 10:05 am

Well, the examples David gives do on the surface look like serious studies (though I'm no statistician), and no doubt there are many political decisions made on flimsier evidence. But I don't think any of this will convince people that don't want to be convinced.

I think it makes more sense to focus on promoting chess as something in its own right, rather than go down the sport positioning route, which seems hard to achieve and with uncertain benefits.

Actually I rather liked Paul Sanders' thinking of positioning chess more as a cultural activity.

Jonathan Bryant
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Re: Chess as a Sport in the UK

Post by Jonathan Bryant » Thu Sep 19, 2013 10:08 am

PeterFarr wrote:Also whether chess actually helps children develop is a rather dubious argument - I don't believe there is any really reliable evidence on it (I think previous threads have discussed this - fairly sure David Robertson has said something about that too in the past).

The Education Endowment Foundation recently allocated nearly £700,000 to a research project which will investigate the impact of teaching chess to children. Specifically the impact on maths scores. (A randomised control trial Brendan and others will be pleased to know).

http://educationendowmentfoundation.org ... ry-schools


This suggests to me two things:-

(a) a firm evidence base for the assertion that teaching chess in schools in Britain is not - yet - supported by a firm evidence base. Otherwise, why spend £700,00 on the research?
(b) there is reason to consider that teaching chess in schools in Britain might well be beneficial. Otherwise, why spend £700,000 on the research?


Once the results are in it will settle things one way or another I suppose - at least as far as maths is concerned. Although, FWIW, it seems to me that raising academic attainment scores is only one reason to teach chess in schools. And not the most important either in my personal opinion.



What David was talking about - quite rightly, I think - was the possibility that other interventions to improve academic attainment were available and could be proved to be even more effective. The one he mentioned specifically was a programme to counter the fact that many children go to school without eating breakfast

(e.g. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-20936420)


That's the challenge for chess in schools. It's not enough to prove it 'works'. It has to work better than everything else. £700,000 could buy a lot of breakfasts, for example. Evidently, it's a challenge that the bod who allocates the money feels that chess teaching can very possibly meet.

I guess there's a potential cost effectiveness element to this decision too. If it is proved to be effective it would be a very cheap way of reaching a lot of kids and doing a lot of good.
Last edited by Jonathan Bryant on Thu Sep 19, 2013 8:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

PeterFarr
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Re: Chess as a Sport in the UK

Post by PeterFarr » Thu Sep 19, 2013 10:41 am

Interesting.
Jonathan Bryant wrote:
That's the challenge for chess in schools. It's not enough to prove it 'works'. It has to work better than everything else. £700,000 could buy a lot of breakfasts, for example.
This seems to be the key point - and pretty much impossible to "prove" as are so many other things in education. Realistically, there are so many competing demands on the curriculum, and its such a controversial area, that I can't see any prospect of chess being included. The best that might be achieved is greater recognition of its value as an extra-curricula activity.

Although there are some examples / attempts elsewhere:

When Judit Polgar was in London last year she was talking about efforts to put chess on the curriculum in Hungary. It will be interesting to see how that goes.

Somewhat bizarrely, there is also this quote (via Chris Rice), in a letter to the Bulgarian chess federation, from the hero of another thread. "I wish you successful management of Bulgarian and international chess, especially in your endeavor to introduce chess as a compulsory subject in schools. I wish you health! Sincerely ! FM Borislav Ivanov".

There's also Armenia of course.

On the whole though, I rather doubt whether any Eastern European examples will hold a lot of sway over here.

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Paolo Casaschi
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Re: Chess as a Sport in the UK

Post by Paolo Casaschi » Thu Sep 19, 2013 10:43 am

David Gilbert wrote:Fiziol Zh. 2004;50(5):80-6.
Effect of sport participation on the dynamics of attention parameters and successfulness of studies in school children of junior age.

...Children playing chess are characterized by the highest successfulness..
Somebody should contact Mr Fiziol and explain how chess has nothing to do in a paper about children successfulness and participation in sports :D

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JustinHorton
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Re: Chess as a Sport in the UK

Post by JustinHorton » Thu Sep 19, 2013 11:06 am

Paolo Casaschi wrote: Somebody should contact Mr Fiziol
I suspect "Fiziol" is not a person's name but rather part of the abbreviation of the journal's title, which I will speculate is Fiziolohichnyi zhurnal.
"Do you play chess?"
"Yes, but I prefer a game with a better chance of cheating."

lostontime.blogspot.com

Jonathan Bryant
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Re: Chess as a Sport in the UK

Post by Jonathan Bryant » Thu Sep 19, 2013 12:05 pm

PeterFarr wrote: This seems to be the key point - and pretty much impossible to "prove" as are so many other things in education. Realistically, there are so many competing demands on the curriculum, and its such a controversial area, that I can't see any prospect of chess being included. The best that might be achieved is greater recognition of its value as an extra-curricula activity.
Well, I'm no expert in evaluating this kind of thing (although a friend of mine is - I must ask him how you'd go about it), but I would think a large enough research programme with an appropriate format should certainly allow a 'compare and contrast' type decision at the very least. Perhaps not providing 'absolute proof' as you might get in physics or something, but at the least improving the decision making above and beyong guessing or relying on gut feeling (or personal preference).

Then you'd get into cost benefit analysis, I suppose. Let's say we have enough money to provide breakfast for 500 kids or teach chess to 1000. What do we do?


The extra-curricular bit is also interesting I think. It occurs to me that part of the issue around evaluating effectiveness of chess in schools (like anything else) is working out if it works better in some areas and/or from some groups than in/for others. It seems to me that it's at least theoretically possible that it will turn out to work best in those areas and for those pupils where providing something 'out of hours' is not a viable option. And therefore, even if providing chess lessons in class time is not seen as justified for everone, it could well be appropriate for some.

PeterFarr
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Re: Chess as a Sport in the UK

Post by PeterFarr » Thu Sep 19, 2013 12:24 pm

Jonathan Bryant wrote:
The extra-curricular bit is also interesting I think. It occurs to me that part of the issue around evaluating effectiveness of chess in schools (like anything else) is working out if it works better in some areas and/or from some groups than in/for others. It seems to me that it's at least theoretically possible that it will turn out to work best in those areas and for those pupils where providing something 'out of hours' is not a viable option. And therefore, even if providing chess lessons in class time is not seen as justified for everyone, it could well be appropriate for some.
If that's the case, then you are talking about a more achieveable objective perhaps; I guess people are more likely to go along with a claim along the lines of "chess is a useful educational tool for these types of pupil (x), in these circumstances (y) because it helps in this way (z)." than with a more blanket assertion.

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