FIRST RANK - Newsletter No.10 October 2018

First Rank - It is all about reaching a new level of teaching!

First Rank is a weekly newsletter for everyone interested in 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 this issue we continue our work with sharing the best methods how to teach chess when the goal is to develop social and intellectual skills. Beside that you get a 752 year old puzzle and we present a video about how many chess games that is possible.

The SMART Method: Motivation

ECU Education has gathered the best methods for teaching chess and brought them together to create the SMART Method,  a comprehensive approach for teaching chess. In this video, the second in the SMART series, we present the Motivation factor.

Did you miss the movie about Self Learning in the SMART Method?

Here is the the first movie in the SMART Method - Self Learning. The basic idea is that education is more about learning than teaching. We want pupils to  the pupil that should understand, then they must be active and try for themselves. 

The SMART Method

S = Selflearning
M = Motivation
A = Adjustment of level
R = Range of activities
T = Technology

CiS in Europe - New field, new possibilities, new problems

During the last decade, I have been working with chess in schools and developing chess as a pedagogic tool, I have made presentations to around 400 headteachers to encourage them start chess at their schools. The more my experience has grown in these situations the less I speak about chess in the meetings. Instead I talk about the challenges the schools face and the need for new methods to promote social interaction, enhance the ability to concentrate, and encourage logic and creativity. I conclude by saying that chess offers all this and more and with a tried and trusted method. This approach has achieve a much more positive response and has been opening new doors, However, I have also met new challenges. To be regarded as a having an effective teaching method one must be prepared to answer questions about evidence and tests. What measurable results can you show?. So just as the doors are opening we find that we have to push them harder. The way forward is to bring chess teaching to a new level, continuously improving and learning from experience.  In the end, we will have more than enough evidence from scientific research and word of mouth.

Jesper Hall
Chair, ECU Education

How many chess games are possible?

Numberphile is a popular series on YouTube presenting a variety of mathematical problems in an accessible way. This video by James Grime examines theories on how many chess games there are.  Nobody has worked out the exact answer but it's a very big number - there are more possible chess games  than there are atoms in the universe!

The Chess Puzzle of the Week


A 752 year old chess problem

Chess is an ancient game and this problem set in 1266 is still relevant today. It comes from a collection called "Bonus Socius" (Good Companion). Can you solve it?

White to play and deliver check mate in two moves. 
(Answer below)

ECU Education Calendar 2018
3-16 November, 2018
World Cadet U8, U10, U12 Championships 2018
Santiago de Compostela (Galicia), Spain
8-9 November, 2018
ECU School Chess Teacher Course
Ingolstadt (Bavaria), Germany
Details from Boris Bruhn

14-21 November, 2018
2nd European School Team Chess Open Internet Championship*
Details from Alexander Kostyev 
8-9 December, 2018
London Chess Conference: the Future of Chess in Education*
London (Hammersmith), England
Website    Registration

10-11 December, 2018
ECU School Chess Teacher Course
London (Hammersmith), England
12 December, 2018
ECU Chess and Mathematics Teacher Training Course (new)
London (Hammersmith), England

2nd European School Team Chess Open Internet Championship 

School chess teams cannot travel long distances which is why a European internet championship, organised by the International School Chess Union, is so valuable to allow children from different countries to interact with each other.  Each school can enter two teams, U11 and U17 (calculated from 1stJanuary 2017 and 2001) comprising two boys and two girls. Entry forms must be signed by the chess teacher and school principal, and submitted to the organiser by Friday 9 November 2018.  Regulations (PDF)

London Chess Conference 8/9 December 2018

ECU is one of the sponsors of the 6th edition of this popular annual conference along with CSC and Erasmus+. The theme this year is The Future of Chess in Education. We welcome you and every school chess organisation to share and discuss your vision of the way ahead for scholastic chess. We will talk about strategy and plans, strengthen our growing community and increase co-operation. We have already gathered some exciting suggestions from all parts of Europe and beyond. If you have any suggestions for presentations, sessions or debates then please let us know. Note that after the conference there will be a chance to attend one of the ECU-accredited teacher training courses (10/11th December) and our new course on Chess and Mathematics for teachers (12 December).

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A 752 years old chess problem
In the starting position, Black is already in trouble due to the king being on the back rank with only a knight to defend against two powerful rooks. The knight can defend against a check from either rook by inserting itself into the back rank to block the check e.g. 1. Ra7-a8+ Nd6-c8.  However, after the unique solution 1.Rh7-g7, Black cannot prevent being checkmated on the next move.

Whatever Black plays in the above position, the game is lost on the next move - an example of the concept of "zugzwang".  Let us list the possibilities:
1...Nd6-c8 2.Rg7-g8 #
1...Nd6-e8 2.Ra7-a8 #
1...Nd6-b7 2.Ra7-a8 #
1...Nd6-f7 2.Rg7-g8 #
1...N other 2. Ra7-Ra8 #

Notice that the winning move 1.Rh7-g7 set up a symmetrical position around the d-file axis. No other move would work as black otherwise could play 1... Nd6-f7 blocking the g-row and covering the check on h8.
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