Have adults ruined children’s Chess?

National developments, strategies and ideas.
harrylamb
Posts: 140
Joined: Thu Apr 22, 2010 1:33 am

Have adults ruined children’s Chess?

Post by harrylamb » Thu Dec 28, 2017 1:14 pm

Is a headline from today's BBC web site at
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-42329564
But I have changed the word sport to Chess. The thrust of the argument put forward is that children have been driven away by coaches and parents forgetting it's all supposed to be fun. Consequently participation of children in sport is dropping. I believe the same thing is happening in chess. Do you agree?
No taxation without representation

David Robertson
Posts: 1972
Joined: Tue Apr 03, 2007 6:24 pm
Contact:

Re: Have adults ruined children’s Chess?

Post by David Robertson » Thu Dec 28, 2017 1:39 pm

harrylamb wrote:
Thu Dec 28, 2017 1:14 pm
Is a headline from today's BBC web site at
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-42329564
But I have changed the word sport to Chess. The thrust of the argument put forward is that children have been driven away by coaches and parents forgetting it's all supposed to be fun. Consequently participation of children in sport is dropping. I believe the same thing is happening in chess. Do you agree?
Philip Larkin called it right:

They f**k you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.

But they were f**ked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another’s throats.

Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don’t have any kids yourself

Andrew Zigmond
Posts: 1566
Joined: Tue Nov 22, 2011 9:23 pm
Location: Harrogate

Re: Have adults ruined children’s Chess?

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Thu Dec 28, 2017 3:31 pm

There will be pushy parents in any sport and, to be 100% fair, some children do need to be pushed in order to achieve their potential and respond accordingly (other children react against it).

Perhaps a more general example of UK chess getting it wrong is down to that old chestnut of declining activity at secondary school age. We're sometimes blooding children in adult league chess when they're too young (primary school age), simply because they're the only youngsters we have.
Controller - Yorkshire League
Chairman - Harrogate Chess Club
All views expressed entirely my own

Andrew Martin
Posts: 684
Joined: Sun Feb 12, 2012 4:37 pm

Re: Have adults ruined children’s Chess?

Post by Andrew Martin » Thu Dec 28, 2017 4:18 pm

My experience with the girls event mentioned otherwise in this section is that chess among children in England is getting more and more south-east centred.

I have racked my brains trying to think of ways to improve this situation, but nothing obvious comes to mind.

One of the biggest issues facing those who present chess as purely fun is that it is not nice to lose again and again. An element of encouragement to work hard to improve is inevitable.

This should not extend to 100 press ups after each defeat. Maybe 500 is better.

Kevin Thurlow
Posts: 2531
Joined: Wed Apr 30, 2008 12:28 pm

Re: Have adults ruined children’s Chess?

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Thu Dec 28, 2017 4:46 pm

" ...chess among children in England is getting more and more south-east centred. "

Surely, that was always the case?

I was pondering whether to write a book about junior chess, including reports of appalling behaviour of players, coaches, parents and arbiters (whilst making it clear that the awful people are a minority).

I think the sport article hit the nail on the head. You have the contrast between schools that say competitive sport is evil, because someone loses (or the FA rule that local newspapers being forced to report junior football results as 2-1, when the score exceeds 6-0), and the schools having an enquiry if they lose a game.

It's nice to win, but it is supposed to be fun... I recall a school hockey match between Reigate Grammar School U15 and St Georges Weybridge, when the latter's umpire was at their defence end and every time RGS got in the SGW half, their umpire awarded a free hit to the defence. Our umpire got so annoyed he did the same thing, so there was 35 minutes of play in the middle 10 yards of the pitch, with the whistle going about 100 times. 22 players came off the pitch sympathising with the opposition that the game was ruined. When I was umpiring a game between two Public Schools, my colleague was horrified when I suggested afterwards one of the players should have been sent off. "But that would upset his coach!"

I agree with Harry and David - good to see a Hull poet quoted!

Andrew Zigmond
Posts: 1566
Joined: Tue Nov 22, 2011 9:23 pm
Location: Harrogate

Re: Have adults ruined children’s Chess?

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Thu Dec 28, 2017 7:14 pm

Andrew Martin wrote:
Thu Dec 28, 2017 4:18 pm
My experience with the girls event mentioned otherwise in this section is that chess among children in England is getting more and more south-east centred.

I have racked my brains trying to think of ways to improve this situation, but nothing obvious comes to mind.
There is a perception that prestige junior events are mainly held in the South East. Having said that I suspect that attempts to move events further North haven't really prompted many entries. During the years of weakness the ECF itself became very South centred with the North tending to do its own thing. My own perception is that there are excellent individuals in the North of England but activity tends to be very spotty and poorly co-ordinated.
Controller - Yorkshire League
Chairman - Harrogate Chess Club
All views expressed entirely my own

John Moore
Posts: 1710
Joined: Wed May 14, 2008 6:33 pm

Re: Have adults ruined children’s Chess?

Post by John Moore » Fri Dec 29, 2017 8:12 am

In my case, children have ruined an adult's chess by regularly beating me and causing my Elo rating to tumble off a cliff :lol:

MJMcCready
Posts: 1212
Joined: Mon Jun 24, 2013 2:30 pm

Re: Have adults ruined children’s Chess?

Post by MJMcCready » Fri Dec 29, 2017 11:44 am

In all the years I have been playing and all the 'teachers' and 'trainers' of chess I have met and worked with I have noticed a general trend emerge between those who have children themselves and those who don't. A German FM I once taught with had a far greater knowledge of chess than I but no real understanding of how to communicate that to very young people. He didn't think about what they wanted to do and was insistent that they start off by learning how to annotate their games. It killed their interest in our game, and even after that he blamed them rather than himself. I think the majority of adults find it very hard to understand children or don't have the patience they need.

Richard James
Posts: 939
Joined: Tue Apr 17, 2007 7:34 pm
Location: Twickenham
Contact:

Re: Have adults ruined children’s Chess?

Post by Richard James » Fri Dec 29, 2017 11:57 am

MJMcCready wrote:
Fri Dec 29, 2017 11:44 am
In all the years I have been playing and all the 'teachers' and 'trainers' of chess I have met and worked with I have noticed a general trend emerge between those who have children themselves and those who don't. A German FM I once taught with had a far greater knowledge of chess than I but no real understanding of how to communicate that to very young people. He didn't think about what they wanted to do and was insistent that they start off by learning how to annotate their games. It killed their interest in our game, and even after that he blamed them rather than himself. I think the majority of adults find it very hard to understand children or don't have the patience they need.
I don't have children. Perhaps I'm the exception that proves the rule.

I suspect (without looking it up) that the majority of adults have children, but not all adults with children understand other people's children (or even their own). There's a general tendency to push kids to do too much too soon. Many chess teachers want to produce prodigies and don't go slowly enough because they don't want to hold back the potential stars.

Richard James
Posts: 939
Joined: Tue Apr 17, 2007 7:34 pm
Location: Twickenham
Contact:

Re: Have adults ruined children’s Chess?

Post by Richard James » Fri Dec 29, 2017 12:20 pm

The article Harry quotes is very important and there's a lot of truth in it, although some children will thrive on the pressure.

But for every chess parent putting children under too much pressure there are a hundred parents who teach their children the moves because it 'makes kids smarter' but refuse to let them take chess seriously because then 'it wouldn't be fun'.

Yes, some adults have ruined children's chess by starting them too young, expecting them to do too much too soon and putting them under too much pressure. Many more adults have ruined children's chess by insisting that playing chess is 'easy' and 'fun' and not employing sufficient rigour when teaching the basics. For real chess players the fun comes from seeing how good you can get, rather than from playing or studying.

Primary school chess clubs, the way they're run at the moment, offer the worst of both worlds by not ensuring that children master the basics (most parents don't know the basics themselves: we can go into schools and teach them week after week but unless they're reinforced at home the kids won't remember) while at the same time putting them into competitions with silence, touch move and arbiters. There are a small number of primary and (mostly) prep schools which do chess well by making it part of the life of the school, but they are very much the exception.

All this, though, is a microcosm of primary schools themselves, and a microcosm of childhood, so perhaps there's not much we can do.

(Apologies for the generalisations: this really needs a book rather than a short blog post.)

Mick Norris
Posts: 7012
Joined: Tue Apr 17, 2007 10:12 am
Location: Bolton, Greater Manchester
Contact:

Re: Have adults ruined children’s Chess?

Post by Mick Norris » Fri Dec 29, 2017 4:34 pm

Richard James wrote:
Fri Dec 29, 2017 11:57 am
I suspect (without looking it up) that the majority of adults have children, but not all adults with children understand other people's children (or even their own)
Well, I certainly don't understand other people's children, and my daughter would happily tell you I don't understand her either :lol: (albeit, we aren't a normal family, and have a different dynamic to most other families)

Having children does give you a better chance of understanding, though, and certainly teachers have a varied understanding of children in my experience
Any postings on here represent my personal views and should not be taken as representative of the Manchester Chess Federation www.manchesterchess.co.uk

MJMcCready
Posts: 1212
Joined: Mon Jun 24, 2013 2:30 pm

Re: Have adults ruined children’s Chess?

Post by MJMcCready » Fri Dec 29, 2017 4:52 pm

Richard James wrote:
Fri Dec 29, 2017 11:57 am
MJMcCready wrote:
Fri Dec 29, 2017 11:44 am
In all the years I have been playing and all the 'teachers' and 'trainers' of chess I have met and worked with I have noticed a general trend emerge between those who have children themselves and those who don't. A German FM I once taught with had a far greater knowledge of chess than I but no real understanding of how to communicate that to very young people. He didn't think about what they wanted to do and was insistent that they start off by learning how to annotate their games. It killed their interest in our game, and even after that he blamed them rather than himself. I think the majority of adults find it very hard to understand children or don't have the patience they need.
I don't have children. Perhaps I'm the exception that proves the rule.

I suspect (without looking it up) that the majority of adults have children, but not all adults with children understand other people's children (or even their own). There's a general tendency to push kids to do too much too soon. Many chess teachers want to produce prodigies and don't go slowly enough because they don't want to hold back the potential stars.
Having read your book on this subject, I'd say you most certainly are an exception Richard. Your book stands out far above anything else I have read on that topic if I may say so.

I have made some generalisations here, I did want to also say that if chess is presented as an extra-curricula activity in a school setting, the more formative/academic aspects of play should be lessened as, and I am speaking from experience only here, after 5-6 classes, most children aren't in the right frame of mind to learn opening/endgame theory and so on.

Andrew Varney
Posts: 81
Joined: Mon Jul 11, 2011 10:25 pm

Re: Have adults ruined children’s Chess?

Post by Andrew Varney » Sat Dec 30, 2017 12:37 am

I don't have nearly as many years experience, nor am I at the same level, in teaching chess as the likes of Andrew Martin or Richard James, so please excuse me if what I say is too specific to the area and level I teach at.

My children got me into my new career and right from the beginning I have applied the same principles with my students as I have with my own children "if you win great, if you lose you learn". My own children, Zoe and Daniel, and some of my other students, have become quite good players over the years; others have not. Some have stopped playing, for various reasons.

I think it is very important not to hold the stronger players back, but it is equally important not to push others too much. It's all about giving the opportunities at the right level for the children. The most successful schools chess-wise that I've been involved with have offered ALL of a beginners' chess course, a recreational chess club and "squad" competitive chess playing against other schools and encouraging the children to take part in other chess tournaments on an individual basis. It's a real joy to teach a local state school and see the excitement of the class as they learn the basics, and equally so to see one of the school teams get through to a national final. It's fantastic when one of the stronger students plays at a top national level in his or her age group, but it's equally as rewarding when the pupil who has struggled for the last two terms finally delivers his (or her) first checkmate.

I did toy with the idea of running a "Chess for Parents" course (and would still love to give it a go if I could find the time), but it did not get a big welcome from those I approached, and I'm not so sure any more that it's needed. Parental support for their children in chess is key, but it does not actually have to be from the basis of knowing very much as long as they can encourage (and transport!) and have the advice to hand on where to get the resources (books, online, clubs, etc) that they need.

YMMV

MJMcCready
Posts: 1212
Joined: Mon Jun 24, 2013 2:30 pm

Re: Have adults ruined children’s Chess?

Post by MJMcCready » Sat Dec 30, 2017 12:00 pm

Then you are ahead of many people I have worked with. At least you think in terms of what is good for the children and not what suits yourself best.

Richard James
Posts: 939
Joined: Tue Apr 17, 2007 7:34 pm
Location: Twickenham
Contact:

Re: Have adults ruined children’s Chess?

Post by Richard James » Sat Dec 30, 2017 7:49 pm

MJMcCready wrote:
Fri Dec 29, 2017 4:52 pm

Having read your book on this subject...
You're one of the few who have. On the other hand, my book for children is still selling well, as, no doubt, are other books for children.

Which suggests that many parents buy a book and give it to their kids for them to teach themselves. Of course chess doesn't work like that.

Many thanks for your kind words, by the way.

Post Reply