FIRST RANK - Newsletter No.6 August 2018

How to start the term? First Rank will give the answer!

This is the first regular issue of First Rank, 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. In every issue we will present a mix of news and information about Chess in Schools in Europe, interviews, puzzles and a variety of other interesting material.  This first issue focus on how to start the chess term!

Plan the term according to The SMART Method!

The SMART method is a way to structure the term and the chess lessons to make them as pedagogic as possible. It has been developed by ChessPlus and ECU by gathering methods of chess teaching around Europe which we have combined with the latest learning theories. 

10 tips for the chess term!

The more you plan the chess term the better your lessons will be. Here are some tips what to think of:
  1. What is the age and knowledge of the children? Pitch lessons at their level.
  2. Put yourself in the children's position. Why do they come to the chess lessons? What motivates them? What goals should you set them?
  3. Make a plan for the term.  Tell the children and their parents.
  4. What tournaments to play during the term? Plan both external and internal.
  5. Modify the curriculum. What elements do I need to add to the curriculum to make it more engaging for the children?
  6. Check that you have all the material you need. Chess sets need replacing. Find the demonstration board. Competition cards.
  7. Will the children need "motivators" during the term? Should I invite a "star guest" at some point? Should we have a match against the other school? Should the principal play an exhibition game against one of the children?
  8. Start with a lively "Kick-off" event so the children get an interest for your lessons.
  9. Establish a "Code of Conduct" the very first lesson, so every one knows how to behave against each other.
  10. Two important rules: 1) Have fun! 2) Play at least 50% of the time!

Sharing, not competing!

I have a background as a Chess Trainer working with talented children. One problem I often faced was that every chess trainer thought they were the best trainer in the world, with the best method and exercises. This approach made it impossible to start a network of trainers sharing ideas. Because why share if you already have the best method in the world? What I love with Chess in Schools is the approach that we are prepared to share and develop material together. There are so many children out there that love chess that we need to reach. Our movement has a greater objective than just creating new chess players. We must continue to develop teaching methods and genereously share our results. I will work hard to maintain this attitude, and I hope you do the same! So do not hesitate to contact us with feedback or questions.

Jesper Hall
Chair, ECU Education

Minigame of the Week: Homecoming chess

Homecoming chess is a lovely minigame for children whom have just learned the start position of a chess game. As with all good minigames there are several levels of play, so more advanced children can also enjoy playing. The mini game encourages children to plan ahead and coordinate their pieces.

Facts about ECU Education

  • We are a Commission of the European Chess Union (ECU)
  • 54 countries belong to the ECU (much wider than the European Union)
  • The ECU Education was launched in 2014 in Tromsø 
  • The goal for the commission is to develop chess as a pedagogic tool
  • The Commission comprises education experts from different countries
  • The ECU Academic Advisory Board includes distinguished professors
  • During 2018 courses to become a certificated school chess teacher will be held around Europe.

Do you want a translation of the newsletter into your language?

If you want a translation of the newsletter into your language you click on the bottom that bring you to the web version. At the top to the right you see a bottom "Translate". Press and find your language. Let the newsletter be translated. 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 Chess Puzzle of the Week


Avoid checkmate if you can!

The perfect chess problem for the beginner!

White to play. Can white avoid giving checkmate in six moves? 
(Answer below)

ECU Education Calendar 2018

ECU School Tournaments
European School Chess Cup 2018 Budva Montenegro 3-18 October

ECU School Chess Teacher Training Courses
Uppsala, Sweden 1-2 September (Jesper Hall for information)
Batumi, Georgia, 30 Sept- 1 Oct
London, December 10/11

You can find a list of course graduates.
The London School Chess Conference
The annual London Chess Conference will take place this year on 8/9 December on the theme of "The Future of Chess in Education". Leading international experts on the developments in chess and education will present papers, run workshops and participate in discussions. The event is sponsored by Chess in Schools and Communities, ECU and Erasmus Plus. There will be a presentation of some results from the Erasmus CHAMPS project on Chess and Mathematics. Full details of the conference will be made available in October on

If you are interested in contributing to the conference as a speaker or presenter, please contact Stefan Loeffler describing the topic relating to the future of chess in education.

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Avoid checkmate if you can!

No, white can´t avoid giving checkmate in six moves with 1.d3-d4 b6-b5 2.d4-d5 b5-b4 3.a3xb4 a4-a3 4.b4-b5 a3-a2 5.b5-b6 a2-a1D 6.b6-b7 checkmate.
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