All posts by Stefan Löffler

Programme Updates

conference logo
We have to apologize if the updated programme includes surprises over what you have seen before. We had to make several changes, including some this Wednesday and Thursday, due to speakers withdrawing for health and personal reasons. We also strive to avoid clashes that would impede speakers from making their contributions.

Specifically, we had to cancel the History of Chess in Society session that was planned on Sunday. To avoid a too long afternoon we have shortened the parallel workshop session on Saturday starting 16.30 to end at 17.30, from when the World Café Debates will add an interactive and more personal touch. We have also shortened the Sunday afternoon and expect the conference to finish at 17.00.

Please check the updated schedule page.

Chess as Social Enterprise

Social applications of chess are often pioneered and developed by individuals. There is a growing spirit of social enterprise in chess and a need to professionalise. Chess in Schools and Communities and the European Chess Union (ECU) have joined forces to call the first Social Chess Entrepreneurship Bootcamp during the Chess and Society Conference.

The selected participants are:

      Radislav Atanassov (Bulgaria)
      Luis Blasco de la Cruz (Spain)
      Kevin Cripe (USA)
      Tal Granite (Canada)
      Balazs Kecskemeti (UK)
      Monika Korenova (Czech Republic)
      Patrick Reinwald (Austria)
      Erzsebet Sarlos (Hungary)
      Hedinn Steingrimsson (Iceland)
      Marisa van der Merwe (South Africa)
    Kajetan Wandowicz (UK)

The Bootcamp includes lectures and workshops on topics such as Business Plan, Finance and Fundraising and Social Media Marketing as well as a competition. An expert jury will hear the project proposals and preselect the finalists. The conference audience will then vote the best social chess project.

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Chess can be Cure or Disease

online addiction unknown sourceHe was in his mid forties and there was nothing better for him than playing chess online. He had loved the game since his youth, but didn´t become hooked until worthy opponents were always within a few clicks´ reach.

He started to miss work, spent whole nights in front of the screen, eventually got missing. His wife didn´t see him for days. Later it turned out that he spent them locked away in the attic, idling away on online games and sleeping right there not to be bothered by anyone or anything but chess. Later was when his wife dragged him to a therapist. The couple went there three times but to no avail. The man didn´t find anything wrong with his constant urge to play chess. Nor with giving up on life apart from the game.

Developing a behavioural addiction in mid life is not unusual, we were told by this man´s therapist. He usually treats patients who gamble online or spend their wake life with video games. But he wasn´t aware that chess could be fast enough to constantly trigger dopamine responses. When he learned about the very fast time limits of online chess, he confirmed that it can be addictive.

We have learned of grandmasters who blitz away far beyond what could be legitimated as training or having fun. The majority of those who loose control over their online play are amateurs. What can online chess servers do to help players at risk?

When we invited Danny Reinsch, Vice President of Chess.com, the biggest chess server, he was certainly aware of the problem. He pointed out though that some of the heaviest players used to have more damaging addictions in the past. Chess was rather a path out of the dark for them.

Chess therapy might be an efficacious add-on treatment for some addiction patients, suggests a review by Sabine Vollstädt-Klein.
Chess therapy might be an efficacious add-on treatment for some addiction patients, suggests a review by Sabine Vollstädt-Klein.

Online chess addiction is one of the aspects in our path breaking workshop Chess and Addiction. Sabine Vollstädt-Klein from the Central Institute of Mental Health in Mannheim and Professor at the University of Heidelberg reviews the latest research on cognitive remediation therapy, which suggests that chess could be an effective and cheap intervention for some addiction patients. In Brazil chess has already been tried as a therapy for drug users. Darcy Lima will present promising data from a brand new study.

Bringing Refugees into Play

By the end of the year, more than a million refugees who are seeking asylum will have been registered in EU countries. Projects in Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands have deployed chess as one of the elements assisting the rehabilitation and integration of refugees. One of the features of chess is that it is an international language in itself. People from different coutries can begin to communicate across the board.

One of Germany´s biggest refugee reception centres is located in Munich in the Bayernkaserne. The Münchener Schachstiftung (Munich Chess Foundation) started the initiative in 2011 and then raised support from other foundations. Chess tutors are employed to supervise chess events each Friday where instruction is given to beginners and intermediate players. In another project, a special school for unaccompanied young refugees, Schlau-Schule, ran four classes were run during the last school year. Several of the students had learned the game at the chess meetings in the Bayernkaserne Project supervisor Dijana Dengler of the Münchner Schachstiftung is moved by the memory of how Afghan youngsters started to invite everyone interested to late night chess sessions.

Mustafa is one of the students of the Schlau-Schule for refugees in Munich - and he loves chess a lot. (photo: Münchener Schachstiftung)
Mustafa is one of the students of the Schlau-Schule for refugees in Munich – and he loves chess a lot.
(photo: Münchener Schachstiftung)

During the first weeks after they have registered their application, many refugees have little to do. When Niels van der Mark learned about refugee boredom in November 2014, he decided to give chess a try. Together with club mates from Schaakvereniging Doetinchem he started to pay regular visits to the reception centre in the Dutch town near the German border. “We were surprised how many Syrians know chess and play it quite well.”

Those who show an interest are also invited to the chess club. Offering tournaments makes little sense, as the refugees are usually just staying for a few weeks. Van der Mark encourages them to join one of the free chess sites on the internet in order to stay in contact with others who keep playing. He has also make some connections with chess clubs in the refugee’s new place so that they receive a welcome. Chess can provides a ready-made social network.

Van der Mark is unaware of other Dutch chess clubs that have followed the example of Doetinchem, “because we didn´t make a noise about this”, but the local media found out about the project and loved it. Here you can see a TV report (in Dutch)..

Only men and boys joined the chess sessions. As Van der Mark noted “They kept saying that women don´t have a place in war, and they pointed out that what we call queen is in Arabic a vezir – a minister”. Some of the Syrian children would move the pieces in a different way. They play a variant called “damen” (a word which means “draughts” in several European languages).

In Sweden, instilling an interest in chess fever has been found to improve the mood of formerly depressed and isolated youth. Ake Drott, a therapist and social worker specialises in unaccompanied young refugees at Steget Verdare (One Step Further), a non-for-profit organisation in Mölndal near Gothenburg. Two years ago he started using chess and has been passing on his lifelong enthusiasm for the game to the young people he is assisting. “Chess works tremendously well: they feel better, they get better at school, they get along better with others. Everything!” says Drott.

Last year Ake and his team leader, Pontus Teiler, participated in a graduate seminar on chess teaching at the University of Malmö. They documented and analyzed their experience which now comes as a basis for a presentation at our conference. Drott, Dengler and Van der Mark will all share their experience in our workshop Chess for Refugees and encourage others to establish projects elsewhere.

 

Social Chess Entrepreneur Bootcamp

The first ever professional program for social entrepreneurs in chess is going to be part of the Chess and Society Conference and what we hope to be a perfect addition to our theme. The twelve best applicants will be invited for a professional crash course and a best project competition.

On Friday, 4 December, throughout the afternoon and evening, experts will lecture and give workshops on crucial topics like

  • Business Plan
  • Pitching and Presenting
  • Social Media Marketing
  • The Social Investor’s Perspective

On Saturday and Sunday, 5 and 6 December, the participants will, apart from participating in the conference, pitch their project or project idea first to an expert jury and then to the conference audience at large. The best voted project shall receive an award.

In your application you shall demonstrate why you have the skills and personal resources to be a social innovator in chess and why your participation will be an asset to this group. Your application must include a CV and an essay in English of up to 500 words on your expertise and your project or project idea and make clear what social need it is addressing. Grammar and style won´t be judged beyond that your English is good enough to participate actively. No cover letter or reference letters are required. Applications are only accepted by e-mail to
conference@chessinschools.co.uk
until Tuesday, 6 October 2015, 18.00 CET.
(original deadline postponed)

The stipendia, half of which are made possible by the European Chess Union, include free participation in the social entrepreneur training, competition and conference but do not include travel, accomodation and food. If you don´t have the resources to cover these costs, please add a brief letter to your application, and we may be able to help.

Successful applicants shall be informed by mid October. If you are selected you will receive reading materials and links for 10-15 hours of preparation. Please keep in mind that you will also need to be prepared to deliver a ten-minute-presentation of your project or project idea. And be ready to network at the conference.

We are looking forward to hear from you!

Social Chess Projects Wanted

Chess and Society is the theme of the third London Chess and Education Conference on 5 and 6 December 2015. While keeping a focus on chess in education, we wish to promote social entrepreneurship in chess more generally. We are inviting contributions from social chess projects on the following topics:

Chess for Old People
Chess for the Visually Impaired
Chess with Refugees
Chess in Prisons
Chess against Addiction
Youth Counselling with Chess
Chess in Libraries and other Informal Learning Settings
Chess and Community Work
Organising Social Chess Events

Please contact us if you are interested to make a presentation at the conference or if you want us to consider a different topic. We also invite you to contribute a poster about your project or research.

conference@londonchessclassic.com

Please pass this on and alert everybody interested in the social and societal potential of chess!

Call for Presentations

The London Chess and Education Conference wants to bring together the best chess in education experts and projects. Workshops with presentations from different countries have proven to be an efficient way to instill international exchange, cooperation and joint projects. We are inviting contributions on the following school chess related topics:

Chess and Maths
Early Years Chess
Inclusion and Integration in School Chess
Chess Interventions for Children with Special Needs
Training Education Professionals to Teach Chess
Chess Teachers´ Qualification Needs and Certification
Chess in Camps for School Students
International Exchanges in School Chess
Lobbying for School Chess

Please contact us if you are interested to present in any of these workshops or if you want us to consider an additional topic.

mailto:conference@londonchessclassic.com

Spanish Parliament Supports School Chess

Leontxo Garcìa is a succesful lobbyist for chess in Spain
Leontxo Garcìa is a succesful lobbyist for chess in Spain
The political camps rarely agree on anything in Spain. However, when it comes to chess in schools, politicians from all parties represented in the education commission of the Spanish Parliament came together to support the introductio of chess in schools, as reports El Paìs in its English edition. Although their decision is not immediately allocating resources, this is a major opportunity and has been accomplished by two initiators: Pablo Martìn, a member of parliament (here´s a video of his speech in parliament – in Spanish) and journalist Leontxo Garcìa, who was a speaker at our conferences in 2013 and 2014.

Skak gør børn klogere

This means “Chess makes children smarter” and is the headline of a six minute report by Denmark´s TV 2 main news broadcast last Monday.

denmark tv2 newsThe TV talked to Michael Rosholm and Andreas Rasch Christensen from the University Aarhus. There research was done on a pilot, where fifth-graders had one weekly maths lesson replaced by a weekly chess lesson for one school year, after which they did better on maths than pupils in a control group. Rosholm, a reputed education scientist, said that chess teaches thinking, and that thinking ahead and improved self-control are likely the main factors to explain the improved performances. The TV crew visited Virupskolen, a school in Hjortshoej, where an impressed teacher, Linne Nissen, said that she is going to start chess with her first grade next year.