FIRST RANK - Newsletter No.3 May 2018

First Rank - A Newsletter for Chess in Schools in Europe! 
In this issue of First Rank we get inspired by school chess in Hamburg and we present the weekly minigame, puzzle and pedagogic trick!

Inspiration from Hamburg: The largest school chess tournament in the world!

In Hamburg, Germany, a fantastic annual event takes place in the Barclaycard Arena involving over 4,000 children. In the tournament "Rechtes Alsterufer gegen Linkes Alsterufer" children from one side of the river Alster play children from the other side. Here you can see a reportage from German TV (in German).

Facts about Rechtes Alsterufer gegen Linkes Alsterufer

  • The tournament is officially recognized as the largest school chess tournament in the world with 4,240 players
  • The tournament started in 1958
  • The tournament is a team competition between schools from the west side and the east side of the river Alster
  • Hamburg was founded at the mouth of the river Alster
  • Here you find the webpage of the tournament with a lot more information.

Interview with Walter Rädler and Boris Bruhn

Two of the most important people in Chess in Schools in Germany are Walter Rädler and Boris Bruhn. They are both teachers by profession but also devoted to developing chess as a pedagogic tool. In this interview (in English) they talk about school chess in Germany, the situation in Hamburg and the Alsterufer tournament.

The most important player in a school chess tournament is the one in last place!

Most Chess in School (CiS) organisations provide tournaments as an integral part of their offering. We teach the children the game and they usually love to play. BUT... most CiS organisations realise that they need to make everyone feel included. Competitions can make some children feel left out.  What to do? Firstly, I recommend team tournaments, so that the performance is shared. Secondly it is advisable to use the 1-2-3 point system. This means that you get one point for participating, one extra for a draw and two extra for a win. It feels so much better for children to leave a tournament with some points rather than none! This point system is fundamental to how to arrange a school chess tournament, to ensure that the one finishing last had a good time! Giving every participant a memento, such as a medal, is also welcome. Using this approach, the tournaments are regarded as more successful because not just the winners are happy.  There are many other things you can do. You can create a great atmosphere with a lot of entertaining side events such as chess characters in costume, giant chess sets, chess posters, chess training, but most important is the attitude! If the organisers have this idea in mind, they will find concrete ideas.

Jesper Hall
Chair, ECU Education

A translation of the newsletter into your language?

Did you know you can get a translation of the newsletter into your language by clicking on the top to bring you to the web version. Select the "Translate" option and find your language. As it is an automatic translation it will not be a perfect one, but maybe the content will be easier for you to follow. 

The Minigame of the Week: Disco Duel

One of the best ways to teach the children how the pieces move. is to let them play minigames utilising specific pieces. In this minigame called Disco Duel you learn how to co-ordinate your pawns, and how to attack them with the knights. You alternate play with black and white. This nice minigame was invented by the chess pedagogue Boris Bruhn from Hamburg. He introduces the game it with a story about a party taking place in which the knights are acting as bouncers keeping out the pawns who want to come to the party.

The pedagogic trick of the week: How to start a course?

Boris Bruhn has neat trick of how start a chess session. He divides the participants into two teams and lets them play a minigame against each other. When a participant has made a move he or she must answer a question on the card that will reveal why they come to the course.

The Chess Puzzle of the Week


 What is wrong in the position?

Can you see why this position is not a legitimate one?

ECU Education Calendar 2018

ECU School Tournaments
European School Chess Championship, Krakow, 29 June - 8 July  Information

ECU School Chess Teacher Training Courses
Toledo, Spain   2-3 June (Luis Blasco for information)
Uppsala, Sweden 1-2 September (Jesper Hall for information)

About First Rank

First Rank is a regular newsletter  for everyone interested in using chess for education. The newsletter is a co-operation between the Education Commission of the European Chess Union (ECU Education) and ChessPlus, a company working with strategy games in education. In each issue we present a mix of news and information about Chess in Schools in Europe, interviews, puzzles and a variety of other interesting material.  

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What is wrong?
White's black squared bishop can not have reached c3 as the pawns on b2 and d2 remain on their starting squares which block the way from c1. No white pawns have been swapped so the bishop on c3 cannot be a promoted bishop either.
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