More than one hundred school chess organisers and activists from the German speaking countries met in Bad Hersfeld, a spa town near Frankfurt, for the seventh German School Chess Congress. A dozen experts presented methods and ideas to improve chess instruction in the classroom as well as after school. Stefan Loffler presided over a “game inventing workshop” and presented chess-related mathematical games and puzzles. Local kids were invited for lessons as by Walter Raedler on mini games suitable for beginners.
A highlight of the meeting was the presentation of the Methodenkoffer, a unique collection of materials to enrich chess instruction. The box, which is sold by the Deutsche Schulschachstiftung for €170, will also be on display at the exhibition of chess instruction materials at the London Conference.
17 lost pawns have to be returned to their chess sets each of which comprises 8 pawns. How many boxes are required? The most common answer is “3”. This is plausible based upon some common assumptions – e.g. that a single-number answer is required or the judgement that only a few sets would have been affected, and so on.
This is such a simple problem you might think that virtually everybody gets it right. But curiously the Lost Pawns Problem catches out both children and adults. It is not as if people are addled, not knowing where to begin or how to approach the problem. In practice, answers come rapidly, confidently and erroneously.
You enter the room after the chess club has finished. All the equipment has been stored away. Unfortunately you notice that there are pawns on the floor. This is the bane of the chess teacher – pieces fall off the table and roll behind a chair leg. Tut, tut, we can’t allow the room to be untidy – the pawns will have to be returned to their boxes. You pick them up and count. There are 17 black pawns.
The question is “How many chess sets did they come from?”