Category Archives: Games

Classroom Chess and Mathematics

Chess is evolving – its purpose has moved towards the needs of schools. Whilst playing chess competitively remains an important motivating factor for many children, there is so much more that can be done. Chesss may be regarded not as one game but as a resource for all sorts of logical and mathematical mini-games, game variants and puzzles.
The rapid rise of classroom chess has been achieved by teaching the game from the simplest beginnings. By working with children on the basic components of the game, literally one piece at a time, they grow in confidence and enthusiasm. Rather than throwing children in at the deep end, modern educational methods have been used to deconstruct the game into digestible components. Continue reading Classroom Chess and Mathematics

John Foley is Sixty Today

John Foley pictureThe co-director of our conference and frequent author of this website is celebrating his sixtieth birthday this Tuesday. Of Irish origin, he studied in Oxford, Lancaster and London. He is also a qualified barrister. Apart from practicing law he worked in highly qualified positions in the film and media industries. Full of ideas, he has always a fascinating project on his hand.

A couple of years ago John saw opportunity and demand for better mathematics education at the time Chess in Schools and Communities was set up. It was a match at the right moment. The charity started to work with John and appointed him Director of Training and Education. John has since trained a thousand of teachers and chess tutors in England, Wales and Ireland, and has written teaching manuals and children workbooks. Always up for something new, this summer he co-organized an international chess summer camp in Riga. Continue reading John Foley is Sixty Today

MiniChess Goes Global

Marisa was elected South African Teacher of the Year 2012
Marisa was elected South African Teacher of the Year 2012

At our 2013 conference Marisa van der Merwe inspired many with her moving talk on chess teaching in South African townships. Through her MiniChess curriculum thousands of disadvantaged kids picked up arithmetic and coordination skills. At the time she was already deep into a new project, translating MiniChess into an app, that can reach many more children worldwide. Marisa found investors and an Estonian team for the programming.

As the MiniChess app is just being launched, Marisa is working the globe: She was an invited speaker at the recent WISE convention in Doha, a prestigious education conference. Here is a video of her session. Actually, another WISE speaker Paul Tough spoke about school chess in New York. From Doha Marisa went to Australia and New Zealand. In December it´s on to London.

The mouse Cheddar is the hero of the MiniChess App
The mouse Cheddar is the hero of the MiniChess App

The energetic networker is partnering with Kasparov Chess Foundation Africa to bring the educational benefits of chess to other African countries. Another cooperator is educational psychologist Joreta Parsons, who is also joining the conference.

New Game Call until 25 November

Ten of these for the winner
Ten of these for the winner

At the request of some contributors, we have extended the deadline to submit a new game suitable for primary school students by ten days until 25th November. An international jury will judge all suitable submissions at the conference and vote the winner of the £500 first prize.

The game, which should not already have been published, must make use of the chess board and pieces but doesn’t have to be a chess variant. Continue reading New Game Call until 25 November


MarienbadposterIn the stylish 1961  nouvelle vague film Last Year at Marienbad two men vie for the attention of a woman. This spa town was the venue for the famous 1925 tournament won by Nimzowitsch. However, the film protagonists decide the matter with a game of Nim. In the crucial scene, the players nervously remove sticks from four piles: the last one to remove a stick is the loser in both senses. Their nervousness defines the message of the film – casting doubt where there should be knowledge, chance where there should be strategy. Nowadays there is no prospect of a Nim challenge because the players would discover that the game had been cracked. Continue reading NimChess

New Game: Interference

The conference hosts a Game Design Competition with a prize of £500 for the winner. The deadline for entries has been extended until 25 November 2014.  For the detailed rules go here.

One purpose of the competition is to add variety to chess instruction at school. Whilst orthodox chess holds a special place in the realm of board games, there are many other games which can be played with the same board and pieces. Popular variants such as Loser´s Chess or Avalanche Chess keep the essential nature of chess and adjust one or two rules which can make the game feel very different. Importantly, the disparity between playing ability at orthodox chess is often reduced or vanished.

Another purpose of the competition is to encourage creative thinking.  A new game could use the board and pieces in a different way. An example is the Polynesian game Konane that can be played on a chess board using 31 white and 31 black pawns, checker pieces or counters.

Designing a new game is not that difficult.  Whether other people will like it depends upon many factors. The ultimate test is have the game played many times by different people. Let’s try a new game. Continue reading New Game: Interference