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Post-Graduate Course on Scholastic Chess

What is research telling us about the benefits and the best ways of teaching chess? How can chess help to improve learning motivation and develop a growth mindset in your students? Which mini games, chess variants and puzzles can you apply to promote mathematical and logical skills? How can you effectively raise metacognition through chess? These are core themes of the Summer School „Chess in Primary Education“ to be held on 2-6 July 2018 at the University Girona in Spain.

The first ever international post-graduate course on school chess is part of the CHAMPS Erasmus plus project that was launched during the London Chess Conference. The Summer School will bring together teachers and teacher trainers from all over Europe for an intensive week of advanced professional development under the lead of Professors Fernand Gobet (Cognitive Psychology), Barry Hymer (Educational Psychology) and Jorge Nuno Silva (Mathematics and Games). Methods and materials developed in the CHAMPS are part of the course.

Attendees will receive a certificate and can additionally get 3 ECTS upon completion of a paper, based on action research in their classroom during the months after the Summer School.

Applicants must have at least two years experience of teaching chess, a good command of English and be academically trained school teachers or have at least a bachelor in social science, mathematics or another relevant field. We specially encourage applications by those who train teachers for teaching chess. Chess teachers and tutors are kindly refered to the ECU teacher chess training or other courses.

The course fee of €300 includes course materials and refreshments. We offer full waivers for ten applicants from low income countries. Applicants must send a CV and a motivation letter (and if you want to apply for free attendance a proof of current income) until 15 March 2018.

Girona is known for its beautiful old town, excellent restaurants, airport and former mayor Carles Puigdemont. Girona is half an hour drive from the Costa Brava and an hour to the North of Barcelona. Accomodation in a modern student house with personal bathroom, kitchenette and wifi is available for €27 in single and €19 double per person and night.

Ask for a course folder (PDF) or other queries:

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!

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.


Size Matters

When studies on school chess are claimed to have a positive effect, it is no big deal. Very few interventions in school show no effect or a negative effect. Size matters. On the average, the effect size of an educational intervention in school is 0,4. An effect size above 0,4 is therefore seen as a desirable outcome. This has been established in a synthesis of more than 800 metaanalyses of studies on educational interventions directed by John Hattie from the University of Auckland in his seminal “Visible Learning” (2009).

Giovanni Sala and Fernand Gobet (pictured above at our 2013 conference) from the University of Liverpool have picked up Hattie´s challenge and conducted the first real metaanalysis of studies on chess in school. According to seven criteria they included 24 studies based on more than 5000 students in the experimental and control groups. They found an average effect size of 0,338. It was less in reading abilities and slightly bigger in maths abilities, but smaller than Hattie´s treshold of 0,4. However, after excluding studies with less than 25 hours of chess Sala and Gobet found an average effect size of 0,428, which is quite satisfiable.

The first real metaanalysis on chess in Schools has been presented by Giovanni Sala from the University of Liverpool.
The first real metaanalysis on chess in Schools has been presented by Giovanni Sala from the University of Liverpool.
As Sala pointed out in his presentation at the conference, none of the studies reached the highest methodological standard of comparing chess not only with no intervention but also with another intervention. Their metaanalysis has been accepted and will soon be published by a journal. We are delighted that they gave us permission to publish a preprint version. If you want to quote it, please contact for an updated reference.

Make the Best of the Conference!

hilton olympiaGetting you to cooperate is the main goal of this conference. This is why we have added more opportunities to interact in workshops, debates and the exhibition. Ask the conference team if you look for partners. Use the exhibition area to show your materials and to check out what the others have. Agree on what you can do together in the future and stay in touch. The printed programme includes a participants list with your e-mail contacts.

Registration opens at the Hilton Olympia on Saturday at 10. If you visit the Olympia for the opening day of the London Chess Classic on Friday (and are not a registered participant of the bootcamp) please notify

Another option for Friday might be a visit to the Tate Modern which opens until 10 pm and has free live music, performances and exhibitions. Friday is also the announced release date of the movie “Pawn Sacrifice”, but we could not locate any London theatre that is showing it.

Upon your arrival you will get a printed programme at the venue. You don´t have to register to attend any of the conference sessions, even though the conference is very well booked.

The wheather in London is mild throughout the week-end with highs above ten degrees. Sun is only forcasted for Friday, it may well also stay dry on Saturday and Sunday.

The UK has its own kind of electricity plugs. Converters are available for 1 pound at poundshops (elsewhere expect to pay 4 pounds). We stock converters at the conference and at the Lily Hotel for you.

It is still possible to make a guess and win the prize offered by Björn Frank. It only takes a minute. Everything you need to know is here.

Please report about the conference. Use this website, which is now going into documentation mode, twitter (#LondonChessConf) and the photo and video materials which we will provide.

Please bring your educational and marketing materials to show to others. If you want a designated area in the exhibition please contact us.

If you make a presentation (yes, there are enough projectors) please e-mail us the presentation.
Most or virtually all presentations will be available from the conference website. If you don´t want your presentation online or want to provide a different version this is perfectly fine but you have to tell us.

Have a safe journey! We are all very excited to see you!
John Foley, Stefan Löffler, Tereza Pribanova

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.

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.