8 and 9 December set for our 2018 Conference

We are pleased to announce that the 6th London Chess Conference will take place on the week-end of the 8th and 9th December. The leading conference on chess and education is jointly sponsored by Chess in Schools and Communities, the European Chess Union, and Erasmus Plus. Attendees will be able to spectate at the nearby 10th London Chess Classic and to participate in its FIDE rated Open (which will overlap only with the final conference session). Please save the dates in your calendar. Details on the venue and registration will be published here shortly.

The theme of the conference this year is “The Future of Chess in Education”. We invite all major chess and school chess organisations to present their vision and discuss the way forward and how we can work together. We want to publish a preliminary programme in the end of September. If you want to give a presentation or organise a session write us at conference@londonchessclassic.com

London Chess Conference Themes
2013 Chess and Education
2014 Chess and Mathematics
2015 Chess and Society
2016 Didactics of Chess
2017 Scholastic Chess
2018 Future of Chess in Education

School chess is evolving. The European Chess Union has launched its School Chess Teacher Training Course on didactical techniques ECU Course details. Chess in Schools and Communities is growing steadily and is now reaching close to 50 000 students in the UK. Its Danish counterpart
Skoleskak has become a force in the education sector of Denmark by deploying chess as an educational tool to teach primary mathematics. This is also the theme of a grant by Erasmus Plus to a consortium of organisations to develop material for primary schools. The CHAMPS< (CHess And Mathematics in Primary Schools) project /a> brings together the Slovak Chess Federation, CSC, the Chess Observatory of the University of Girona and the Portuguese Mathematics and Games organisation Ludus. The outputs from the CHAMPS project will be presented at the conference.

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: summerschool@chessplus.net

Harvesting Ideas for Scholastic Chess

Debates in smaller groups are a great way to harvest ideas and engage everyone. We invited experts to propose debating questions and to host these debates. They took place in parallel. After half an hour all participants but the hosts were invited to switch to another debate. Here are the main findings of four debates:

How can Chess Improve Intrinsic Motivation for Learning? Chess has a clear process: I watch – I think – I play. The connection between learning and improving is more obvious in chess. Taking decisions for yourself and winning games promote self-esteem and self-awareness. For all these reasons chess is a great vehicle to promote metacognition, which is the capacity to reflect on and talk about how to learn and to think. Some students feel that learning from failure in chess prepares them for real life. Some develop a passion for the game, which can transfer to other subjects or at least helps to keep children motivated for school and learning.

What is the Best Age for Scholastic Chess? Six or seven years may be the best age to start with chess if the teacher is a qualified pedagogue and introduces chess through stories and mini games. In small groups or one-on-one chess or a light version of chess can be started even earlier. Chess projects in several countries where the school age starts at six suggest that chess helps to get children ready for school. Research suggests that children starting at six or seven years tend to get more benefits from chess than those starting from nine years or older.

What are the Social Benefits of Scholastic Chess? In chess and in life you have no full control over the events, but you can always choose your response. In real life your choices depend on a social environment, which often includes peer pressure and sometimes bullying. Chess is more than an equalizer when it comes to its social implications. Perceptions of failure, what losing really is and how to deal with it, offer many opportunities to learn, which is most welcome from an educator´s point of view.

How should the Scholastic Chess Movement Organise Itself? A scholastic chess network needs to be independent from chess federations due to the divide between education-driven and competition-driven school chess. A scholastic chess network should drive professional development in chess teaching by providing best practice examples, teaching content and opportunities to network and train. It should connect practice and research. It would provide an affiliation and credentials to teachers and chess teachers and make them independent from the goodwill of chess federations which are by nature competition oriented. Usual school chess competitions favour those who learned and trained more competitive chess. A network should promote and develop new types of competitions on a more level playing field.

What would you like to debate at the sixth London Chess Conference?

Presentation videos from the 2017 Conference

Psychologist Karel van Delft, a chess education expert from the Netherlands (Chess Talent), recorded several presentations from the conference. You can also follow the actual slides.

In alphabetical order:

Maurice Ashley: School Chess, Research and Curriculum
www.youtube.com/watch?v=SOA6UTfRU-I&feature=youtu.be

William Bart: Making School Chess Research Relevant
www.youtube.com/watch?v=bY9DmrduE-g&feature=youtu.be

Reinaldo Golmia Dante: Research
www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvqEv0aq-Ko&feature=youtu.be

Leontxo García: Chess Across Subjects
www.youtube.com/watch?v=ho1jSN1SwP8&feature=youtu.be

Fernand Gobet: Chess and Intelligence – Lessons for Scholastic Chess
www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hq6rbC4aiHU&feature=youtu.be

Jesper Hall: Does Scholastic Chess Need a Code of Conduct?
www.youtube.com/watch?v=ULU8AgaGFx4&feature=youtu.be

Mads Jacobsen: What is Scholastic Chess?
www.youtube.com/watch?v=jHnNGmEDE9c&feature=youtu.be

Ebenezer Joseph: Thinking Outside the Box – Enhancing Creativiy with Chess Instruction
www.youtube.com/watch?v=gmSlqVksqTQ&feature=youtu.be

Brian Kisida: School Chess, Research and Curriculum
www.youtube.com/watch?v=XoJaPMYcm4M&feature=youtu.be

Jakob Rathlev: What Everyone in Scholastic Chess Should Know about Evaluation
www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ix4bs5gRWD4&feature=youtu.be

Sunil Weeramantry: A Blended Learning Chess Course
www.youtube.com/watch?v=VYPCv8dIUq8&feature=youtu.be

 

Clearer Objectives in Scholastic Chess

International co-operation and a stronger commitment towards education is the way forward for school chess. This is the main conclusions of the fifth London Chess Conference which brought together eighty activists and researchers from 24 countries during the first week-end of the London Chess Classic, that was sponsored by Chess in Schools and Communities, the European Chess Union and benefiting from Erasmus Plus mobility grants.

Networking during a coffee break (photo: Leila Raivio)

Most attendees accepted that a distinction must be made between scholastic chess that is oriented towards school curricula and delivered by regular teachers who have been trained on chess didactics and how to integrate chess with the school curriculum from competitive school chess that is mostly an after-school activity delivered by chess tutors or teachers with the goal of finding and nurturing chess talent. It was noted that whilst most research scarcely details the method and content of chess instruction, future studies must look at precisely how chess is taught and how it is connected to the school curriculum.

Conference Director John Foley with Grandmaster Maurice Ashley who works in schools in St. Louis and New York City (photo: Leila Raivio)

Another flaw with existing research studies is in their design. One cannot prove a causal effect without having both an active and a passive control group. “Chess instruction is not a magic bullet but has a good placebo effect”, said Professor Fernand Gobet who has been warning against this flaw in the study design for fifteen years. He reckons that most studies were conducted by chess proponents who were satisfied to produce a positive result irrespective that the basic design is inadequate. Three-group-designs are standard in video games as well as on music instruction and cognitive training, which Gobet and his PhD student Giovanni Sala have systematically reviewed. Their verdict is that cognitive effects of these several types of intervention are close to zero. If anything, chess is doing slightly better, said Gobet, and encourages us not to focus only on cognitive effects: “Decide what you want to reach in scholastic chess and customise your tools!”

“Chess is not a magic bullet but has a good placebo effect”, said Fernand Gobet (photo: Lennart Ootes)

In order to move ahead, scholastic chess organisations should not only focus on their impact but also what their learn during projects. The value of formative evaluations was argued in a lecture and workshop by Jakob Rathlev from the Danish Scholastic Chess Association and Professor Brian Kisida from the University of Missouri professor who advises the Chess Club and Scholastic Centre of St. Louis.

Professor William Bart´s several suggestions to improve the state of research found a mixed response. While a centre for scholastic chess research would be a very useful resource, it is not likely to materialise in the near future. More practical would be the establishment of a Journal of Scholastic Chess. The consensus is to start with the creation of an international network of scholars and key activists engaged in networking and project building. The next step will be to create a map of knowledge on which to base a future research agenda. Progress on this front as well as on the CHAMPS (Chess and Mathematics in Primary Schools) Erasmus Plus project that was launched at the conference will be reported at our sixth edition during the London Chess Classic in December 2018.

Planning is underway for our sixth conference in December 2018 (photo: Leila Raivio)

High Marks on Creativity in Indian PhD Research

While our attendees from places like Brazil and Australia are currently based in the UK, Ebenezer Joseph has the longest trip to London. The veteran chess teacher and activist has taught and trained 7000 kids in Southern India. In Chennai he founded and is running the Emmanuel Chess Centre in the Russian Cultural Centre. After observing big cognitive improvements for many years he thought up a research project.

Ebenezer Joseph during a TV interview with NEWS 7 Tamil

A trip to the first London Chess Conference 2013 got him on track. Right afterwards he registered for a PhD in Coginitive Psychology in Madras University and became Principal Investigator at the Department of Science & Technology for a project funded by the Indian government to study “The Influence of Chess Learning on Comprehensive Cognitive Development of Children”

Now Ebenezer is returning with results of this study which followed 200 children, half in the experimental, half in the control group, from two government and two private schools. In one of the longest chess studies over two years
measures on intelligence, creativity and academic performance were taken, including tests like WISC IV, Binet Kamat for intelligence and Wallach Kogan for creativity as well as cognitive functions such as working memory, processing speed, verbal comprehension, perceptual reasoning, verbal reasoning, conceptual thinking, numerical reasoning, social intelligence , creativity and language skills.

The improvements on intelligence and creativity in the experimental group that received chess instruction were highly significant. “This study could possibly be a trigger to incorporate chess in Indian schools”, writes Ebenezer. Promoting Creativity is a hot topic in Indian education policy, and his presentation in our opening session will focus on this aspect.

Conference Now Full

We have reached the maximum number of registrants for the 2017 Conference.  We thank all those who registered and we look forward to seeing you at the Hilton London Olympia at the weekend.

This is a highly professional and international event with  72 people from 24 countries. Participant statistics: 85% have experience of teaching chess in schools, 30% women, 30% British, 12 chess tutors, 8 professors, 8 international masters, 8 teachers, 6 Doctors, 5 from each of Slovakia, Spain and USA, 2 grandmasters.

We are grateful to those organisations who have made this event possible: Chess in Schools and Communities, European Chess Union, Erasmus Plus CHAMPS project.

Increasing Co-operation in Chess Research

William Bart, professor of educational psychology and director of the Thinking Lab at the University of Minnesota, is rather positive about the effects of chess on scholastic achievement. He is giving the opening keynote talk “Making School Chess Research Relevant“ (Saturday 13.15-). He writes:

Although there have been empirical studies on the educational and psychological effects of chess in schools and studies of correlates of chess competency, many questions remain unanswered. To answer such questions in a scientific manner, collaboration among scientific researchers and practitioners of scholastic chess is required.

Professor Bart proposes three courses of action:

  1. The establishment of an International Center for Chess Research (ICCR) would advance the scientific study of scholastic chess through empirical research on the effects of scholastic chess.
  2. The establishment of an International Fund for Scholastic Chess Research (IFSCR) would provide financial support to and basis for the ICRR.
  3. The establishment of a Scholastic Chess Network would promote communication among and collaboration between scientific researchers of scholastic chess and practitioners of scientific chess for the purpose of the design and implementation of scientific studies of scholastic chess.

These provisions would provide the basis for answering many questions regarding the effects of scholastic chess in a scientific manner and facilitate the scientific study of scholastic chess and the effective expansion of scholastic chess.“

William’s suggestions will be further discussed in a workshop on Sunday 9.00-10.30. Research Co-operation, the workshop´s theme, is on the rise, even though an attempt to establish a joint academic publication, the Journal of Chess Research, has failed to get off the ground so far.

The European Chess Union, which is a co-sponsor of the London Chess Conference, has recruited scientists to advise the Education Commission. The first, non-public meeting of the ECU Academic Advisory Board on Monday, 4 December, is one of many side meetings of the conference. One of the advisors is Fernand Gobet from the University of Liverpool who has cooperated with colleagues and PhD students in many chess related studies.

Scientists at the University of Girona have formed a Chess Observatory. Its director Carme Saurina Canals, a professor of statistics and econometrics at the Faculty of Economics of Girona, will share how this unique interdisciplinary group interacts.

In October the International Society for Applied Chess was formed during a conference in Bulgaria. Sabine Vollstädt-Klein, an addiction scientist at the University of Heidelberg and the German Institute of Mental Health, will present this brand new organisation with its goals and strategy. With researchers from five continents expected the workshop will boost transnational cooperation.

Debating Scholastic Chess

Scholastic Chess is the core theme of the 2017 conference and also of the six debates that we are running on Saturday afternoon 15.30-16.30. The debating format is called World Café and has been developed to share knowledge and to encourage action. Each debate is hosted by an expert who has proposed a debating question. The host keeps the discussion going and engages the participants to contribute. All six debates go on at the same time in the same big room. After thirty minutes everyone but the host will be invited to move on to a different debate. Originally we intended to have everyone switch after twenty minutes, but this may have been too hectic.

Three topics are following up on the crucial distinction between education oriented and competition oriented school chess: The Dutch chess psychologist, coach and author Karel van Delft asks what Separates Scholastic and Competitive Chess? The question put up by the London Chess Conference Programme Director Stefan Löffler is how should the Scholastic Chess Movement Organise Itself? Yonne Tangelder, a school chess coordinator at the Norwegian Chess Federation, wants to know, what is the best age for scholastic chess?

Tal Granite, chess coach and founding director of the Chess Institute of Canada, picks up experiences and insights on the Social Benefits of Scholastic Chess to supplement his lecture on the following day about Chess and the Hidden Curriculum. How can Chess Promote Intrinsic Motivation in the Classroom? is the topic of Sabine Vollstädt-Klein, an addiction scientist at the Central Institute of Mental Health in Mannheim and the University of Heidelberg. Jesper Hall, the Swedish chairman of the European Chess Union´s Education Commission, argues for a code of conduct in scholastic chess and in junior chess and what it may entail.

Pick the two debates that interest you most!

Making More out of Evaluations

Very few school chess projects are properly evaluated. Evaluations are often mistaken for marketing tools losing out on the potential of evaluations to provide valuable learning and insight as well as to keep projects on track to get the most out of them.

Jakob Rathlev is not only a board member and until recently chairman of the Danish Scholastic Chess Association but also division head at the Danish Institute of Evaluation where he specialises in the evaluation of education programmes. His talk is entitled “What Everyone in Scholastic Chess should Know about Evaluation” (2 December, approx 14.00). Later on the same afternoon (2 December, 16.30-18.00) there will be a workshop, in which Jakob will guide you to plan an evaluation of your current or next scholastic chess project.

Dansk Skoleskak board member and evaluation specialist Jakob Rathlev (photo: skoleskak.dk)

He will be joined by Brian Kisida, a professor in the Department of Economics and the Truman School of Public Affairs at the University of Missouri. Brian has conducted numerous experimental and quasi-experimental evaluations of education programmes for the U.S. Department of Education and others. Brian works closely with the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis to evaluate the implementation and effectiveness of their scholastic chess programming.

Maybe nobody has as much experience managing diverse scholastic chess projects as Alessandro Dominici from Italy. Alessandro will share what Erasmus Plus, educational foundations and the public sector expects from evaluations and on how to manage their monitoring tools.

The line-up of this high level workshop will be completed by Anna Harazińska, who is the school chess co-ordinator at the Polish Chess Federation. She will share what their ambitious scholastic chess project, the role-out of chess in primary schools across Poland, has learned from its pilot phase.