Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Encouraging news on encouraging chess in schools

In February I had an article on Comment is Free looking at the works of the charity Chess in Schools and Communities to restore the game in British state schools.

On Friday the Independent had an article detailing the progress that has been made more recently:
At Sacred Heart, a 180-pupil school in one of Liverpool's most deprived areas, all children have either an hour or 45 minutes timetabled chess a week except for the very youngest in their first year of compulsory schooling. There is also a chess club after school every Wednesday. 
The school won a Liverpool-wide schools’ chess competition - something which headteacher Charles Daniels, a keen chess player himself, is very proud of. “We're only a small one-form entry school - we don't win things like football and cricket competitions,” he said. “It's something the children will remember.”
And next month a contingent from the school will travel down to London's Olympia to watch the London Chess Classic.

The article goes on to quote Malcolm Pein, who runs the charity:
Meanwhile, Malcolm Pein is busy exorcising the myth that chess is a middle-class game. He has encouraged several pupil referral units (“sin bins”) and one young offenders' institution to take it up. “It has been popular in the pru's,” he said – possibly as a result of the calming influence it has on its players. In the United States, it is also widely encouraged in prisons.
You may also be interested in the piece on Judit Polgar, the world's strongest women's player by Stephen Moss in the Guardian. Judit will be playing at the London Chess Classic.

When I interviewed Malcolm Pein he mentioned that Polgar's father, who home-schooled his daughters and turned all three into strong players, would never allow her to play in single-sex tournaments. She always played with the boys. Ending single-sex tournaments, he suggested, was the way to produce more strong female players.

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