FIRST RANK - Newsletter No.2 May 2018

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

This is the second issue of the newsletter First Rank. 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 issue is focusing on Minigames, the most engaging way of teaching chess! 

Olivia teaches her grandfather a traditional minigame

Every child loves to play and they also love to teach adults. This is one reason that minigames are so effective. In this video, Olivia teaches her grandfather how to play a traditional minigame called "Fox and Geese" (sometimes it is called "Fox and Hounds"), a reversal of the conventional method of teaching.

The history of Fox and Hounds

The Fox and Hounds is an traditional minigame dating back to medieval times in Europe. Like many old games, it is known by several names. The British games pedagogue John Foley, Secretary of ECU Education, says that it is his favourite minigame to play with absolute beginners, children or adults, as he explains in this video.

Which Minigames to Use?

The extensive use of minigames in chess education is a recent development. Nowadays chess teachers and instructors are continually inventing new games, discussing which ones are best and how to use them. Within ECU Education there are different opinions about the role of minigames. One view is that the rules should be as in orthodox chess so that the minigame adds a new understanding when learners play the "real game" . What do you think? Please let us know your feedback.

ECU Education Seminar in Albania

An ECU Education Seminar was held in Durrës, Albania on 27-28 April. The participants discussed how to develop chess in schools in Albania, as well as the best methods of teaching chess. Thanks to the seminar organizers Majlinda Pilinci and Rozana Gjergji, the event was very fruitful. Report.

Do You Want a Translation of the Newsletter into Your Language?

You can get a translation of this newsletter into your language if you bring up the web version by clicking on the top right. Then also in the top right you will see "Translate". Press and select your language. It is an automatic translation - it will be imperfect, but maybe the content will be easier for you to follow. 

Play, Play, Play!!!

One of the most important things in the learning process is that the child tries by themself. I have seen many chess instructors standing in front of the demonstration board telling the children how to think and how to move, forgetting that it is the children who should learn. As chess is a game, you have a perfect pedagogic opportunity to let the children learn by playing. I reckon that at least 50% of the time should be spent playing during a chess lesson. The younger and less experienced the children, the more time is needed. Using minigames, a chess teacher can focus the play on the parts of chess that you think the children need to develop. This is why we are showing a minigame video with each issue of First Rank.

Jesper Hall
Chair, ECU Education

The Minigame of the Week:
Cross the Board with Pieces

We encourage children to learn by playing.  The best way to start is with minigames, 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. In the last issue we presented the very first minigame Cross the Board. Now it is time to take the next step, and add some complexity with Cross the Board with Pieces. 

The Chess Puzzle of the Week


  A "Loyd Problem"


Place the black king on the board so it is 1) in Checkmate
2) Stalemated 3) Can be mated in one move
(Answer below)

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)
Dillingen, Germany   27-29 August (Walter Rädler for information)
Uppsala, Sweden 1-2 September (Jesper Hall for information)

We Want Your Feedback!

What do you want this kind of newsletter? What was good, and what was bad? Please let us know your Feedback


A "Loyd Problem"

1) Put the black king on h8 to make checkmate
2) Put the black king on a2 to make stalemate
3) Put the black king on a6, to make it possible to give checkmate in one move (♗f5-c8 mate)
These 3-in-1 types of chess problems are called "Loyds" after the famous American chess composer Sam Loyd (1841-1911) who many regard as the greatest problemist of all time. He created many witty and creative puzzles in many genres. These Loyds are particularly instructive from a pedagogical point of view. You can discuss many aspects of position construction with children: (1) How to construct a mating pattern? (2) What risks are there when you try to create a mating pattern? (3) How to play to reach the actual mating position? 

Source: Jeff Coakley, Winning Chess Puzzles for Kids Volume 2
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