FIRST RANK - Newsletter Launch Issue April 2018

First Rank - A Newsletter for Chess in Schools in Europe!

First Rank is a weekly newsletter (starting regularly autumn 2018) 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 every issue we will present you with a mix of news and information about Chess in Schools in Europe, interviews, puzzles and a variety of other interesting material.  This first issue contains a short presentation about ECU Education, an invitation to the first Summer Camp for chess teachers in Girona, Spain 2-6 July, an instructional video on the fundamental mini-game "Across the Board" and the Chess Puzzle of the Week.

ECU Education - The Organisation Supporting the Development of Chess in Schools in Europe!

The ECU Education Commission started in 2014 with the goal to support the growing movement of using chess as a pedagogic tool. Since its inception, the Commission has been very active. Our first ECU School Chess Conference was held in Batumi, Georgia. A short video was made about the event in which interviews are made with some of the key people promoting chess in schools in Europe.

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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
  • We have already run six certificated training courses for school teachers

CiS in Europe - Let us Unite!

Chess is gradually becoming a more important pedagogic tool in schools across Europe. We estimate 5 million children play chess every week in schools or after school activities. The movement is like "a wild bunch of flowers" with schools and chess teaching organisations working very differently depending on their objectives, skills and the culture of education. ECU Education we conducted a survey two years ago that showed that there was a demand to improve the standard of chess education, and not least to exchange of ideas on how to teach chess in the best way to make it a tool to develop social and intellectual skills. The goal of ECU Education is to support all of you interested in Chess in Schools (CiS) and to strengthen chess in Europe even more. I hope that this newsletter can become one step in the right direction!

Jesper Hall
Chair, ECU Education

Minigame of the Week: Cross the Board

We encourage children to learn by playing.  The best way to start is with mini-games, which are easy to learn not only for the children but also for the teacher.  It is essential to go step by step, building up from simpler games. A popular first mini-game is Cross the Board (also known as the Pawn Game) where just the two lines of pawns face each other. There are no complications with pieces. And, as with all good minigames, there are some important insights that also apply to chess.

Summer School for Chess Teachers in Girona 2-6 July

What is research telling us about the benefits of chess and the best ways of teaching it? How can chess help to improve learning motivation and develop a growth mindset in your students? How can you apply mini games, chess variants and puzzles to promote mathematical, logical and metacognitive skills? These are core themes of the Summer School “Chess in Primary Education” to be held on 2-6 July 2018 at the University of Girona in Spain.Attendees will receive a Certificate and 3 ECTS (European Credit Transfer Sytem).

The first ever international post-graduate course on scholastic chess is part of the CHAMPS Erasmus Plus project which was launched during the London Chess Conference in December 2017. The project partners include CSC (UK), Ludus (Portugal), Slovak Chess Federation and the University of Girona.
The Summer School at the beautiful ancient town of Girona will bring together tutors, teachers and teacher trainers from across Europe for an intensive week of advanced professional development under the lead of Professors Fernand Gobet (Cognitive Psychology), Barry Hymer (Educational Psychology) and Jorge Nuno Silva (Mathematics and Games). Methods and materials developed in the CHAMPS are part of the course. John Foley (ChessPlus) and Stefan Löffler (CHAMPS) will also be presenting along with experts from the Chess Laboratory at the University of Girona.  More information and register here!

The Chess Puzzle of the Week


 What has happened?

White to play. What were the last two moves? 
(Answer below)

ECU Education Calendar 2018

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

ECU School Chess Seminar
Durres, Albania   27-28 April (Majlinda Pilinci for information)

ECU Summer School for Teachers
Girona, Spain   2-6 July (Stefan Löffler for information)

ECU School Chess Teacher Training Courses
Toledo, Spain   2-3 June (Luis Blasco for information)
Dillingen, Germany   27-29 August (Walter Rädler for information)
Uppsala, Sweden 1-2 September (Jesper Hall for information)

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What has happened?

The only possiblity is that there was a white knight on b6 that moved 1.Nb6-a8 and that the black king took the knight with 1...Ka7xa8. This is an example of a retrograde problem - you have to work backwards to figure out what happened. From a pedagogic point of view, it is pleasant to present a chess problem as a detective mystery!
Source: The Chess Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes by Raymond Smullyan.
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