All posts by Kajetan Wandowicz

Reminiscences

How time flies! The Didactics of Chess are well behind us, if still fresher in our memories than the previous three editions.

Beginnings were modest. The first London Chess Conference, back in 2013, could fit in one of the commentary rooms at the London Chess Classic. With a grand total of 15 speakers (distinguished though they were), the gathering had a decidedly cosy ambience. “Plenary workshop” was not a contradiction in terms. By the first afternoon, everyone had met everyone else. Forget cursory introductions: one would have had a long, stimulating conversation with every other delegate over the course of the weekend. Sessions ran consecutively, aministrative work was minimal, and the networking gathering was an affair so quiet and serene that many would entertain ideas of a quick game of chess. Those were simpler times.

Fast forward three years and we all found ourselves at an eight-room conference centre to discuss teaching chess with 150 delegates working in 25 countries of the world. The 4th London Chess Conference was by far the largest and most international ever gathering of educators, researchers, schoolteachers, coaches, organisers, civil servants and non-profit executives interested in how chess can be used as a force for driving educational attainment. Disappointment was universally voiced at having to choose between concurrent sessions, all equally excellent. But there was no alternative: who would have time to attend a fortnight-long conference? That is what it would have taken to run all talks, workshops, seminars, debates and panels consecutively.

The diversity of topics was staggering and the quality of sessions universally excellent. As has become a tradition, a competition was also held: this time for the best chess exercise involving collaborative problem solving. In the end, the judging panel could not decide between two very different entries, and awarded a shared first prize.

As is unavoidably the case with an event at such scale, there were organisational challenges, but we hope that they remained hidden behind the scenes. At the end of the day, it is not our work as organisers that made the Conference what it was, but the expertise of over a hundred unbelievably clever and dedicated delegates along with your love of chess, passion for education, and selfless enthusiasm for sharing your knowledge and experience.

Our job was gathering all of you together in one building; if we could do that, the event was guaranteed to be a success. We hope that everyone left London feeling as inspired as we certainly did.

From all of the organisers to all the attendees, thank you for making the 4th London Chess Conference so unforgettable.

Competition results

The jury in our competition for the best original classroom chess exercise involving collaborative problem solving decided to award a shared first prize. The winners will share equally the cumulative prize fund for places 1-2, receiving EUR 400 each. Congratulations!

Full results and winning entries:

  • Shared 1st-2nd: Alison Bexfield (“Partner chess”: download here) and Tim&Sarah Kett (“Knight’s tour snooker”: download here)
  • 3rd: Jerry Nash (“A safe journey home”: download here)
  • Special commendation: Jerome Maufras (“My kingdom for a horse”: download here)
  • Special mention for an excellent entry but outside the scope of the competition rules: Mahwish Khan (“A scientific enquiry using chess”: download here)

Congratulations to the winners!

Competition deadline extended!

The Jury of the competition for the best classroom chess exercise have resolved to extend the deadline for submissions to 5pm London time on Thursday 8 December.

We appreciate that some who have already submitted entries may consider that they would have preferred to work on them longer had they known that the deadline would be extended. Anyone who wishes to amend their earlier submission is permitted to do so.

The prize fund of 1000 Euros is provided by the European Chess Union.

problemsolving
Collaborative Problem Solving in Science

For more details, how to submit and competition regulations, go here. Prospective entrants may also find very helpful a recent note about the competition by John Foley, the Conference Director.

Draft conference programme

We are pleased to publish the first draft of the Conference programme. A more detailed version and a list of speakers will be available soon.

Day 1: Saturday 10 December

9.30-10.30 Registration and Refreshments

10.30-10.45 Conference Opening

10.45-12.30 Plenary presentations

12.30-2.00 Lunch

2.00-3.30 Parallel sessions

  • (workshop) Chess Didactics I: Classroom skills
  • (tutorial) Chess for children with special needs
  • (workshop) Window on Mexico
  • (workshop) Chess and primary school mathematics

3.30-4.00 Break

4.00-5.00 Parallel sessions

  • (workshop) Chess Didactics II: Scholastic chess in the classroom
  • (tutorial) The gamification of education
  • (workshop) Achieving variety in chess lessons
  • (workshop) Telling stories to enrich chess instruction

5.00-6.00 Parallel sessions

  • (table debates) World Café
  • (workshop) IT resources for school chess: ECU views
  • (tutorial) Teaching chess with the STEPS Method

 

Day 2: Sunday 11 December

9.00-9.30 Welcome and refreshments

9.30-10.45 Parallel sessions

  • (workshop) Chess Didactics III: Mini-games
  • (workshop) Teaching chess through media
  • (workshop) Cognitive insights into chess improvement
  • (workshop) Launching large scale chess education projects

10.45-11.00 Break

11.00-12.30 Parallel sessions

  • (workshop) Chess Didactics IV: Differentiation
  • (workshop) How to improve motivation in chess
  • (workshop) Personal tutoring
  • (workshop) From school chess to junior chess
  • (tutorial) Teaching Programmes

12.30-1.45 Lunch

1.45-2.00 Plenary: ECU Prize Award

2.00-3.45 Parallel sessions

  • (panel) Is there any proof that chess has educational benefits?
  • (workshop) Chess organisational development?
  • (tutorial) Chess as a part of the curriculum
  • (presentations) Online learning systems

3.45-4.00 Break

4.00-5.30 Parallel sessions

  • (workshop) Chess teacher training: best practice
  • (workshop) How to run a private chess teaching business
  • (workshop) Teaching chess with other strategy games
  • (workshop) Sources of funding for chess in schools

 

Day 3: Monday 12 December

9.00-9.30 Welcome and refreshments

9.30-12.30 Parallel sessions

  • (panel) The professionalisation of chess teaching
  • (panel) New research into the effectiveness of chess (by invitation)
  • (meeting) European Chess Union Education Commission (by invitation)

12.30-2.00 Lunch

2.00-3.30 Parallel sessions: optional extension meetings

3.30-4.00 Plenary: Summaries and conclusions

Speaker profile: Dr Barry Hymer

Do we want to nurture chessplayers who are intrinsically motivated, challenge-loving learners, or who cower in the steely grip of performance anxiety? Research into motivation provides us with compelling evidence that the dominant educational orthodoxy of praise-based self-esteem brings with it great risks, whereas a counter-intuitive emphasis on praise-lite, process-heavy feedback brings far richer rewards. Barry’s sessions will sketch out both the theory and the significant practical implications for chess coaches.

Barry Hymer

Dr Barry Hymer is Professor of Psychology in Education at the University of Cumbria in Lancaster.

Barry has been interpreting and researching learning theory as it relates to classroom practice since he became a professional educator in 1983. Over this period he has acquired extensive experience in schools, initially as a primary and secondary school teacher, subsequently as an educational psychologist and since 2004 as an independent consultant, academic and researcher. Having invested his “10 000 hours of purposeful practice”, he has an international reputation as an engaging and highly effective communicator

Barry has particular interests and expertise in the related areas of motivation, mindset, talent development and independent learning. Barry has toured with Prof Carol Dweck, originator of mindset theory, during the summers of 2010, 2013, 2014 and 2016, speaking at packed conferences in England and abroad.  Barry has created and leads the Osiris Mindset Programme – a one-year intervention aimed at introducing and embedding growth mindset practices in schools. His most recent books are the bestsellingGrowth Mindset Pocketbook (Hymer & Gershon, 2014), and Learning Teaching: Becoming an inspirational teacher (with Pete Boyd & Karen Lockney, 2015) – described by Prof John Hattie of Melbourne University as “The perfect book for those who want to make the most of their opportunity to enhance students’ brain power.”

A fixed mindset killed Barry’s own engagement in chess. Barry was a keen chessplayer in his youth (winning South African junior and senior provincial colours) and is again in his more enlightened late middle-age. In the intervening 30 years he avoided the game, having come to believe that he’d reached a mediocre peak at 22 years of age and was unlikely to improve further. He is belatedly putting the fruits of his professional learning to the test in his own re-engagement in the game.