MARK RUBERY CHESS
The author and chess trainer, K J O’Connell, gives some interesting views on the level of chess ability one needs to be successful at teaching the game to youngsters:
‘It is precisely those teachers who do not play chess who usually are best at teaching chess in school programs. Chess players, especially strong ones and chess trainers are at a great disadvantage. The teachers are closer to the beginners they are teaching and better understand their problems and they know about teaching. Players and trainers almost inevitably look at everything through the eyes of a chess player, never those of a beginner, and they hardly ever have any training as teachers, thus they work under a double handicap. Most professional chess players cannot see the things on the chess board the way that beginners do (or, rather, do not!) and I’ve seen strong players tearing their hair out because the children could not understand them. Whose fault is that? I believe it’s the fault of those who do not know how to teach! Some chess players think that they can go to schools and teach children in one hour how all the pieces move and by the end of 1-2 weeks see them playing competitive chess. In our materials, we not only give advice but also explain to teachers why they are usually much better for teaching beginners than professional coaches or chess players. Many teachers think that chess is a very difficult subject and not being established players, they fear that it will be too hard for them to teach it. To support them I can just say – if you are teaching a beginner of anything you should probably not be a university professor of that subject! Many chess trainers are against chess in schools programs where ordinary schoolteachers are used, the trainers fearing that they will lose by missing out on some lucrative teaching. But that’s a big mistake. Look, for example, at what has happened in Turkey so many children have been taught chess by the teachers and now want to improve their chess education. The demand is so great that there are not enough professional chess trainers to meet that demand and hundreds more trainers are needed.’
BLACK TO PLAY AND WIN
After 63 years, 7 months and 27 days the English chess journalist, Leonard Barden, penned his final column for the Evening Standard. Barden, who celebrated his 90th birthday last August, said it was due to budget cuts “Otherwise I might have continued until I dropped!”.