ECU ChessPlus First Rank Newsletter 36 - May 2020 

ECU Education - Chess in Schools - Online Camps 

First Rank is a fortnightly term-time newsletter for everyone interested in chess for education. In this newsletter, we announce two online early summer chess camps with Judit Polgár. We'll see how chess is organised in Spain. You'll also find out how to create a class on Lichess and a masters student would like you to fill in a survey to start research on gender and diversity in chess. Of course, you will find our usual subjects: an anecdote, a tactical exercise and the training course calendar. All of our teaching chess courses have now switched online and we now offer courses in English, German, Spanish and for the first time also in Dutch and French. 

Online Chess Camps

On May 30-31, we are offering two special online chess events for children aged 9-16 to learn chess with Judit Polgár, one of the top grandmasters in the world for many years, and two of the top trainers in Europe.

The morning camp "The Chess Challenge" is suitable for children who are promising at chess and would like to improve their skills.

The afternoon camp "Challenge for Talents" is for those graded 1600 and above who have the potential to be competitive players.


Chess Teacher Training in Spain

Pep Suárez explains the structure of teacher training within the Spanish Chess Federation (or FEDA).

Pep Suarez is a leader in the chess in schools movement in Spain and Latin America

FEDA is responsible for the training of teachers and chess instructors in compliance with both Spanish education standards and also the certification scheme of the European Chess Union. Using our curricula, we are able to respond to the demand for chess teaching to groups that use chess either as a sports activity as well as those who use chess as a pedagogical tool.

Chess has been shown throughout history to have its own qualities that help and improve certain aspects of the thinking and behaviour of those who play it. Memory, concentration, decision making, empathy, attention, abstract thinking, and responsibility for our own decisions have been shown to be enhanced by the exercise of the game. At the same time, chess brings values such as respect for others, socialisation, acceptance of the result and the ethical struggle are fundamental aspects of the game.

Our education programmes and teaching load have been developed with a lot of expertise and each level has defined competences to achieve a qualification. To find out more about the experience, follow the video interview with a teacher from Spain.

How to Create a Classroom in Lichess?

As a teacher, you can create a Classroom in Lichess. How does it work?

First, you go to and you 'apply' to be a Lichess Teacher. Once you've done so, you can create your class. Maybe, as a schoolteacher, you will tend to 'copy' your school class to the Lichess class, but that's not necessary. It might be more convenient to create classes according to levels and therefore, create classes of different standards: a class with novices, a class with stronger pupils and a class with children who go to a chess club. In this way, you will always be able to give the children enough challenge.

Once you've created one or several classes, you will find them in "Learn" / "Classes". Click on the class where you want to organise chess activities. You will see a window with five tabs: Overview - News - Progress - Edit - Students

In the Overview, you'll see the Students present in the Class, but Lichess may say 'No students in the class, yet'. Indeed, you have to add them first: click on the "+ ADD STUDENT" button, on the right side of the screen. Make sure, you have the usernames of your children and for practical reasons, you can add their real name (we wrote about that in our previous issue). If children do not have a Lichess account, you can create one and generate a username. 

You can admit up to 100 children in your class. The children will have to confirm your invitation before really becoming one of your pupils. To check their status, click on the last tab: "Students", where you can also remove students.

Our discussion of Lichess continues in the next issue.

Anecdote of the Week
Time flies… (bis)

In the previous newsletter, we spoke about Sherwin, who was supposed not to win against Reshevsky in a thousand years but tempus fugit. Another player for whom time flew much too fast, was Friedrich Sämisch (1896-1975) a German grandmaster who made an important contribution to chess theory. Against the King's Indian Defence, he used to play a set up with an early f3-pawn move. This popular system named after him is still one of the most important openings in chess.

The Sämisch variation with 5.f3

He was also a real chess addict. Sämisch got married and as they were setting up home together - Sämisch's huge trunk hadn't even been opened yet - he received an invitation to go to a tournament. Excited, he told his wife that he had to participate but he would come back as soon as possible. So he took his trunk and off he went. Two months later he returned. She didn't understand why he was gone so long but she was happy he was back and prepared a special meal for them. While they were dining, she handed him a letter that had arrived a couple weeks earlier. Sure enough, it was an invitation to another tournament. He told her that he had to leave for the event but would hurry back. Two months later, he got home but she was gone and he no longer had a wife.

Sämisch was also known for his time trouble. He was so engrossed in his chess game that he no longer had an eye for the clock. In a game against Paul Tröger, Sämisch's flag fell, but he didn't notice. Amused, his opponent asked the arbiter not to intervene to see how long it would take for Sämisch to notice  - which took another 40 minutes. If he wasn't already absorbed in his own position, he could fully immerse himself in the games of his neighbours: as a result, in one game, it took an hour before he made his fourth move. At the age of 73, in 1969, Sämisch played a tournament in Büsum, Germany, and another in Linköping, Sweden, but he lost all his games in both events (fifteen in the former and thirteen in the latter), all on time.

Friedrich Sämisch, c.1925

Research - Request for Cooperation

Astrid Barbier is a Belgian masters student in 'Gender and Diversity'. For her Master's thesis she is researching the profiles of chess players and their perspectives on gender. She would appreciate if you could spend ten minutes to fill out her survey. You can use English, Dutch, French or Spanish. Here is the survey.

Astrid Barbier is a Belgian masters student and chess player, who represented Belgium at several Youth EC, WC and Olympiads.

Thanks to chess?

Do you remember the promotion film of the ECU Education, which was released last year (see below)? I would never have dared think this would become so topical so soon. I would never have dared think that I belonged to that youth as well and that I would also have to be prepared to extremely rapid changes, artificial intelligence, automation and a new digital era... 

But I feel like I was prepared. More so, since the quarantine saves me four to five hours of travel every day, I even feel a lot younger than I am... (hmm, my eyes disagree: they feel as constant teleworking at the PC has made them ten years older). Anyway, the adjustments to the new situation went flawlessly.

Because I acquired the necessary skills through chess?


Philippe Vukojevic
First Rank Newsletter Editor, ECU Education

Chess in Schools - Prepare for the future

"We must ask ourselves what their future will look like and have their schools are preparing for the challenges ahead: extremely rapid changes in social conditions, climate changes, articifial intelligence, automation and a new digital era".


Out of the Box

This is a really challenging problem. At first, it looks very easy to give mate in one. Really easy. But the question is not only how to give mate, but also how many times you can checkmate in one. And that is the real challenge for children.


White plays and mates in one... how many times?

Pollmächer et al., Illustrierte Zeitung 1859

Education Calendar 2020

ECU101 The Smart Method to teach chess - online courses

DATE                 LANGUAGE     LEADER                  INFO           
20-22 May          German            Boris Bruhn                Register
23-24 May          English             Jesper Hall                 Register*
5-7 June             French              Philippe Vukojevic     Register**
8-24 June           Dutch                Philippe Vukojevic     Register
17-18 June         English             Jesper Hall                 Information
26-28 June         German            Boris Bruhn                Register

* some FIDE-subsidised places remaining for women/members of small federations
** 8/10/15/22/24 June evening course (2-hour sessions)

Distance Learning

until 30 May         Spanish         Pep Suárez                Register


Out of the Box - Answer
You can find 47 moves leading to a checkmate in one move...

Here they are:
1.a8 (Q), 1.a8 (B), 1.Ra4, 1.Rb4, 1.Rd4, 1.Re4, 1.Rf4, 1.Rg4, 1.Rh4, 1.Rcc1, 1.Rc2, 1.Rc3, 1.Rc5, 1.Rc6, 1.Rc7, 1.Rc8, 1.Nb2, 1.Nb4, 1.Nc1, 1.Nc5, 1.Ne1, 1.Nf2, 1.Nf4, 1.d8 (Q), 1.d8 (R), 1.e4, 1.Ba1, 1.Bb2, 1.Bc3, 1.Bd4, 1.Bf6, 1.Bg7, 1.Bh8, 1.Bb8, 1.Bc7, 1.Bd6, 1.Bf4, 1.Bg3, 1.Bh2, 1.Nc7, 1.Nf6, 1.Qe4, 1.Qe6, 1.Qf3, 1.Qf7, 1.hxg8 (Q), 1.hxg8 (B)

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