Category Archives: Speakers

Speakers and presenters at the conference


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.

mini games with Walter Raedler

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.

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

Watch this: Hours of Conference Video!

A great deal of the conference can now be accessed on video thanks to Karel van Delft.

Anna Nicotera discusses the available studies on chess in schools and implications for future research. Susan Sallon studies effects in English primary schools. Roberto Trinchero presents new data from Italy. Giovanni Sala explores metacognition effects of chess. There is also a video on the post conference research workshop.

The conference comes alive with speakers like Wendi Fischer
The conference comes alive with speakers like Wendi Fischer
Bo Johansson considers from an education scientist´s point of view which children benefit from chess and why. His colleague Christina Schenz argues for chess to promote giftedness in all children. Roland Grabner introduces the conditions of successful maths learning and how chess can contribute. David Wells reviews connections between chess and maths. Jorge Nuno Silva takes you by fasttrack through the history of games and mathematical learning. Rob Eastaway shows how simple games (some of which can be transfered to the chess board) convey mathematical insight.

Wendi Fischer presents the holistic approach of the First Move curriculum. Jennifer Shahade tackles gender issues and presents new formats of informal learning through strategic games. And this video highlights the exhibition and exchange of ideas.

Karel van Delft
Karel van Delft
An overview of all videos that are available can be found on Karel´s website

Presentations Available

Due to technical difficulties and other commitments we have been slow to share the presentations from the conference sessions and workshops. Please excuse the delay. The presentations page is now updated, and more is coming. We have chosen the pdf format to prevent misappropriation. We have added Presentations in the menu, too.

Malcolm Pein, right, opened the conference
Malcolm Pein, right, opened the conference

“Football Chess” by Tatyana Ogneva wins New Game Prize

ognevaCroppedThe winner of the New Game Design Competition is Tatyana Ogneva from Moscow. Her chess variant called Football Chess was judged to be perfect to encourage children to play chess. One of the attractive features of the game is that uses the word “football” which automatically engages interest (not only with boys). Scoring a goal is easier to understand than getting checkmate. Children learn to direct their pieces to the square of the ball in the arrangement phase, and the better players try to hunt down the opposition team as well as aim to score. Clear rules, the rich strategies involved and a relatively quick conclusion all make this an enjoyable game to play. Tatyana runs a small chess club called Etud. She also has developed an online chess program for young children called Virtual Chess as exhibited at the Chess and Mathematics Conference. Originally a psychologist she studied child cognitive development and used that in designing her games. It is not surprising that the football concept has been reinvented in England, Germany and other places before. However, the judges decided that Tatiana’s game was sufficiently different to be regarded as an original implementation. She receives an award of £500 for winning the competition.

The quality and number of submissions exceeded expectations. There were 20 entries in total. The judges analysed anonymised standardised versions of the games. The judges were Jerome Maufras (France), Alan Parr (England) and Rita Atkins (Hungary/UK). The full Order of Merit is as follows.

Order of Merit Game Author City
Winner Football Chess Tatyana Ogneva Moscow
Runner Up Middle Game Chess Malcolm Pridmore Wells
Hors Concours The Interference Game John Foley Kingston
First Commendation Production Line Game Vasileios Parginos Ankara
Special Commendation Blokkology Kevin O’Shea Cork
Commendation Always 32 Pieces Kaj Engstrom Stockholm
1st Honourable Mention Race to the 8th Rank Malcolm Pridmore Wells
2nd Honourable Mention Substitution Chess Thomas Friess Stuttgart

Malcolm Pridmore from England was the Runner Up with Middle Game Chess and had another top 8 game, the only person to have achieved this. He thoroughly tests his games on his own children first. The First Commendation goes to Vasilis Parginos, a FIDE Trainer and National Master from Greece who is working as a chess coach in Turkey. The positions arising in his Production Line Game are very unusual and stimulating. A Special Commendation goes to Kevin O’Shea, a musician from Ireland whose game Blokkology was loved by the maths teachers. It uses dice with pieces on a chessboard in an original way. If the competition had only been about maths games, then this may have won. However, it was not quite ‘chessy” enough in making full use of the piece capabilities. Kaj Engstrom from Sweden receives a Commendation for his variant in which you must not capture an opponent’s piece. Bright children respond very well to this game and the winning plans need an early grasp of the positional possiblities. Malcolm Pridmore’s Race to the 8th Rank receives the 1st Honourable Mention for being simple and fun for beginners. Thomas Friess from Germany tested out his games on his children. His game is like a football friendly where the pieces can be substituted at any time. He receives the 2nd Honourable Mention.

PDF  Football Chess Winner

Chess and Poker – the Mathematical Brain

JenPLAGshoot500Poker has attracted a significant number of talented chess players. Poker players are cool-headed and calculate the odds for the prospect of substantial monetary rewards. To survive and prosper they must have a mathematical brain – or must they? The formidable Jennifer Shahade addresses this topic at her conference presentation on Sunday. She is a Woman Grandmaster and twice the USA women’s champion – and a professional poker player. She will host the prizegiving at the English Girls’ Chess Championship on Saturday at Olympia and give a pep talk to the girls.

Jennifer has written two critically acclaimed books exploring the involvement of women in chess. Chess Bitch looked at the histories and personalities of female chess players and Play Like a Girl extracted sparkling gems from female play. Her message is that traditional feminine preoccupations such as fashion and cosmetics are not necessarily in conflict with being an aggressive chess player. She suggests that females are socialised to be less outwardly competitive.

Remarkably, more girls are playing chess in USA both numerically and proportionately than at any time in the history of the USCF. Jennifer predicts that this trend will continue as chess becomes more glamorous and mainstream with the rise of champions like Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana (who was brought up in the USA although he now plays for Italy).

Continue reading Chess and Poker – the Mathematical Brain

In School Chess Italy is a Superpower

Alessandro Dominici is the motor of school chess in Italy
Alessandro Dominici is the motor of school chess in Italy
Italy is represented not only by the top player of the London Chess Classic, world number two Fabiano Caruana, but also by several speakers at the conference. The country has a vibrant school chess scene. This is mostly thanks to Alessandro Dominici. The organiser from Piemont in North Western Italy has run two international school chess conferences in Turin and introduced chess to hundreds of schools in his region. He has initiated the learning website La Casa di Scacchi di Vittorio and the psychomotricity on a giant chess board method of coordination games for young children to precede instruction on regular chess boards. One year ago, Alessandro presented at our conference about EU funding for school chess. Now he is leading the Erasmus plus project “CASTLE”. And he is already exploring and propagating new ways to finance school chess.

Roberto Trinchero is probably the most productive school chess researcher
Roberto Trinchero is probably the most productive school chess researcher
Alessandro is working closely with Roberto Trinchero, Professor of Education at the University of Turin. Roberto may well be the most productive researcher on school chess during the last ten years. In the study he is going to present this year, he found that students taught chess by chess teachers make more progress in maths than those taught chess by regular teachers. Giovanni Sala, a young scientist from his team who has recently moved to the University of Liverpool, has already been featured here.

Beatrice Rapaccini is using chess to teach primary students about computation
Beatrice Rapaccini is using chess to teach primary students about computation
Among Italy´s many creative teachers with ideas to use chess for teaching mathematics, we are pleased to have secured Maria Beatrice Rapaccini as a speaker. The former space engineer is working together with the University of Macerata to use chess to teach computational thinking to primary students. She will also share her special version of Psychomotricity in the workshop on Early Years Chess.

Digital Assisted Learning

Janos Pallagi profile picture
János Pallagi Developer of

The conference has a panel debate on digital assisted learning on Saturday afternoon: ‘Promises and Limitations of Digital School Chess’ which will be an opportunity to discuss a topic which is becoming increasingly important to the teaching community. Schools are gaining experience in how to integrate online curricula into the classroom but there are many issues to be resolved. Digital applications supplement the traditional methods and teachers value the structure and insights these can bring especially as the applications evolve through feedback from many users. Teachers feel more effective and better able address the diverse range of abilities and interests of their children. Schools are exploring which systems to use and the best way to introduce them. On the panel are János Pallagi, who developed a chess learning system (that he will present on Sunday morning), Mads Jacobsen who heads the Danish Scholastic Chess Association, and Melissa Remus Elliot, the Headteacher of Heathside Preparatory School in London who strongly promotes chess for educational purposes.

An example from LeaningChess.Net
An example from LearningChess.Net

János Pallagi´s LearningChess system arose from a project at Pipacsvirag Secondary School outside Budapest. János Pellagi, an IT specialist, worked with Erzsébet Sarlós, the school Director, on a Chess and Logic Curriculum which breaks new ground. The accompanying software was further transformed into a chess learning application system. This has been translated into English and made free for schools (see video). Already, a couple of thousand children are using it worldwide. The system has evolved so that pupils can track their own development and teachers can monitor the progress of their pupils and their strengths and weaknesses. The evidence suggests that tools such as this can improve attainment in chess, logic and mathematics.