Connecting people is a main purpose of our conference, which has many informal meetings beyond the official programme. On the eve of the 2013 edition we invited a research workshop. There Giovanni Sala, a young researcher from Bergamo in Northern Italy, first met with Fernand Gobet, Professor of Cognitive Psychology at the University of Liverpool. Recently, Giovanni has moved to Liverpool as a PhD student. They are already cooperating on several chess-related investigations.
One of them is on the relationship between handedness, gender and achievement in mathematics and chess, a topic first suggested by Guillermo Campitelli, an earlier PhD student of Professor Gobet from Argentina. While Campitelli had looked at adults, Giovanni´s focus is on children. His underlying hypothesis is that chess instruction at school improves spatial ability.
Another topic he is interested in is metacognition, the awareness of thinking processes. Chess, especially mini-games and chess puzzles, give children relatively easy access to reflecting about how they think when they find the solution or the best strategy. The focus of his presentation at the conference will be on early findings from a study Giovanni has been doing on metacognition in primary school children with Roberto Trinchero from the University of Torino, another speaker at the conference.