Pick Your Two Debates!

The saturday afternoon of the conference will start with a special debating format, the so-called „World Café“. Five interactive debates will be going on at thesame time. Each debate will be designated by a flipchart in adifferent part of the main hall. Each debate has one or two protagonists that will lead the conversation and engage those who join. After half an hour everyone but the protagonists will beinvited to change and join a different debate for the next thirty minutes. So you are supposed to pick two debates from these five on our plate this year:

Debating circles at a past London Chess Conference

Should after-school chess be taught by volunteers or by professionals? Boris Bruhn brought up this question which bugs many organisations as it has consequences on the quality assurance,trainings and support structure. What is the future of chess clubs? This question, presented by Vince Negri and Paul Barasi, arises inthe context of the relative boom of school chess at an earlier age. How should we relate to parents and teachers? These are the major stakeholders of school chess and the backdrop of the debate is a survey among parents and teachers that Graeme Gardiner has run in Australia. Kerry Turner, a consultant and academic who is far from being a chess activist, asks: Do schools teach the right subjects? What does it take to get the status of a subject? This is a goal, or at least hope, that many activists and officials are hedging.

The purpose of the debates is to exchange knowledge and to collect interesting arguments and perspectives on your debating question and to learn how aconversation on this question is evolving. All of the four debates mentioned so far are relevant for the Strategy workshops that will start later in theafternoon. The fifth debating theme is quite different: What cantable top computers add to the chess classroom? Is there a role for consumer electronics in today´s chess teaching environment? This is brought to you by Alexis Harakis and Stefan Löffler on behalf of theexhibitor Millennium Computers. Make your pick!

Programme Confirmed

The full programme for the 6th London Chess Conference has now been confirmed and it can be found here.

The theme of The Future of Education in Chess is a very important one and we have experts from all over the world who will be presenting their thoughts and ideas.

We believe this to be our strongest line-up to date and we are sure the weekend will provide plenty of food for thought for teachers, tutors, chess players and, indeed, anyone else interested in the role of chess in education.

Limited places are still available but with just over one week to go we strongly advise you to book as soon as possible. Tickets can be purchased here.

Strategy Matters

Our conference theme The Future of Chess in Education begs the question where we are heading to and how our goals can be reached.

One aspect is organisation. At our early conferences we discussed if education-oriented school chess or, as we like to call it, scholastic chess needs an umbrella organisation of its own. Many projects and activists are distant from and in no way represented by the chess organisations in their countries.

One aspect is the orientation. Should school chess serve the interests of clubs and federations or should it put the educational needs of children and schools first? The ECU has rebranded its former school chess commissions as Chess in Education in 2014. Just recently FIDE did the same.

Strategy is a core theme of the conference and therefore very present from the start. In our introductory session (Saturday 11-13) key players like CSC (UK), ECU, FIDE or the French Chess Federation will present their vision and reflect on their current strategy.

Some strategic questions will then be discussed in the World Café Debates (Saturday 14-15): Should organisations rather work with volunteers or with professionals to provide after school chess? What is the role of chess clubs when the game is widely used for pedagogical and social purposes?

The introductory visions and debates will be followed up in an extended workshop that comes in two parts (Saturday 15-16 and 16.30-18) to accomodate all its lined up contributors. The start will be made by two speakers who report on strategy processes: Roberto Schenker will introduce the Swiss Chess Federation´s School and Youth Chess Strategy that has been developed together with a University. Boris Bruhn will report on a recent School Chess Strategy Day in Germany.

Of strategic importance to the conference team is a more effective dissemination of our findings and results. Our answer for now was to hire the French videographer Etienne Mensch. Watch out for what we will come up with this time!

Grandmasters on Board

We are delighted to announce that we have a few Grandmasters as speakers this year.

Smbat Lputian, who won the Chess Olympiad with Armenia in 2006, has since initiated the most ambitious national school chess project in his home country where all primary school children are learning chess for several school years now. Smbat has recently become the new chairman of what used to be FIDE`s Chess in Schools Commission and has just been renamed the Chess in Education Commission. Smbat will explain this name change and line out the future strategy of FIDE.

Bachar Kouatly, born in Damascus and later on the first French Grandmaster and organiser of the Kasparov-Karpov world championship match in Lyon in 1990, has recently been elected as FIDE Deputy President. Bachar is also the President of the French Chess Federation since 2016, where he is spearheading a significant push for chess to be used for pedagogical and social purposes. He will talk about this exciting turnaround and how to run a federation strategically.

David Smerdon has represented Australia at seven Chess Olympiads and is a respected chess author. He is also a behavioral economist, and after several years as a PhD student and Post-doc in Europe he returned to Australia where he is now on tenure track at the University of Queensland. David is keen to direct research into effects of chess interventions as for example in Chess in Prisons projects. He will also deliver a keynote on What an Economist Can Learn from Chess?. His commendable blog, which focuses on the subjects of chess and economics, can be found here.

Workshops to Break New Ground

Workshops form a large part of the London Chess Conference programme. They provide ample opportunity to present projects and findings, exchange best practices and to discuss challenges and new ideas. Many ongoing conversations and cooperations have started at our workshops. The range of workshop topics reflects the diversity of our attendees.

Chess in Communitities (Saturday 15-16) and Early Years Chess (Sunday 13.45-15.15) gather best practice examples in the respective fields. Chess in Prisons (Saturday 15-16) has the specific goal to start an informal network of chess-in-prison projects and also link them with a researcher interested in studying the effect of chess on inmates. Making School Chess Research More Relevant (Sunday 13.45-15.15) brings together scientists and school chess leaders to discuss methodological challenges and ideas for future research.

Increasingly we hear that chess not only helps with numeracy and literacy. Therefore we introduce a workshop on Promoting Social Skills through Chess (Sunday 13.45-15.15). Maybe surprisingly, we never had a workshop before on Large Scale School Chess Events (Sunday 9.30-11) even though the UK Chess Challenge, Schack4an, K12 Nationals, Linkes Alsterufer gegen Rechtes Alsterufer and Belaya Ladya are legendary events whose strategic value for public affairs and marketing cannot be overestimated. Speaking of Strategy, another ground-breaking topic is School Chess Strategy with so many speakers and organisations lined up that this workshop will come in two parts (Saturday 15-16 and 16.30-18).

Following up on this is a workshop on Business Development for School Chess (Sunday 9.30-11) which promises to be highly relevant for aspiring project leaders and professional chess teachers. Neil Dietsch is leading this. Also on Sunday morning we will feature two pioneers: Kevin Cripe, a Californian school teacher who has started a chess project for impoverished children in Panama, will discuss didactic innovations as described in his new book The Learning Spiral (Sunday 10-11). Boris Raguet, a French teacher and teacher trainer, will show how to apply chess to teach coding and other computer skills (Sunday 10-11). Make your pick!

Visions: International Baccalaureate

The programme for this year’s conference offers a rich and varied assortment of guest speakers, covering a wide range of topics within the theme of The Future of Chess in Education.

The Saturday morning session takes Visions as its subgenre and it promises to start the conference in fine style.

One of our speakers will be John Claughton, former Headmaster of Solihull School and Chief Master of King Edward’s School, Birmingham,  from 2006 to 2016.

John, a keen advocate for the International Baccalaureate – the international education foundation – will discuss the battle between depth and breadth in education.

Are schools being forced to specialise the children far too early? Should they be offering the alternative to A Levels, with more respect given to the arts?

It is quite clear that chess (along with many other enrichment opportunities) is being squeezed out of the Secondary School system. What can be done to reverse the trend?

Would the introduction of the International Baccalaureate bring more breadth to the education of our children and, if so, what (if anything) is preventing schools from making the change?

I am sure we are in for a fascinating and passionate discussion.

More About IT

The conference is not far away and NOW would be an excellent time to enrol if you have not already done so.

IT will feature prominently on the programme and here is a teaser as to what to expect:

  • Chess Explanation Engine using Artificial Intelligence (Decode Chess)
  • Embedding chess lessons in the classroom digitally (Learning Chess)
  • Chess and computer coding using chess (French Chess Federation)
  • Enhancing memory of chess openings and patterns (Chessable)

This is shaping up to be the best conference yet. We hope to see you there!

Guest Speaker Announcement

We are delighted to announce two new speakers for the 6th London Chess Conference.

Sarah and Alex Longson will be there on the morning of Sunday 9 December to talk about the Delancey UK Chess Challenge  – the world’s largest chess tournament.

Further announcements will follow – especially when the programme moves on from ‘draft of a draft’ stage – but meanwhile, if you are involved in schools’ chess and are based in the UK then now is the time to enter the UK Chess Challenge.

Simply head here for the online entry facility.

Christmas Céilí Night

Chess tutors are always saying to me:

‘I could have danced all night
I could have danced all night
And still have begged for more
I could have spread my wings
And done a thousand things
I’ve never done before…’
 

Well, this year their luck is in!

The 6th London Chess Conference, organised by ChessPlus and supported by Chess in Schools and Communities, is making the most of its change of venue.
The Irish Cultural Centre is hosting the Christmas Céilí Night

with The Gleann Catha Céilí Band on the evening of Saturday 8 December – and anyone who has enrolled for the conference can come along and join the fun for a mere £8.

Put on your dancing shoes, lose your inhibitions and make your booking here!
Perhaps your evening will end with the words:


‘I’ll never know what made it so exciting
Why all at once my heart took flight
I only know when he began to dance with me
I could have danced, danced, danced all night…’

The Foolish King

The 6th London Chess Conference, organised by ChessPlus, will be held in London on the weekend of 8-9 December.

The theme of the conference is The Future of Chess in Education and many speakers are being assembled to deliver high-quality material.

The addition of Mark Price to the programme is significant.

Mark wrote The Foolish King, which was included in the Delancey UK Chess Challenge packs two years ago.

I found the book engaged and entertained the children in my chess classes and I am looking forward to seeing Mark’s presentation at the conference.