18 May, 2006

Courtesy of Peter Roberts.

"Chess and theatre often lead to madness."
Arrabal, Sur Fischer, 1974

Peter Roberts seems to be everywhere at once. He teaches drama, co-ordinates publicity for Castlemaine Secondary College, and is close to being the best teacher I've ever come across. I've seen him do things and often wondered 'How does he do that??'.
Then one day he confessed, with a wink and a nod: "I play a bit of chess". And it all made sense.
Thanks for the 'toon Pete.

Continue to hear great reports about tutoring program in the Mt. Alexander cluster primary schools. If you've come this far and you're reading this please add a comment below. This week I've added some quotes about chess to mull over in a quiet moment.

"Chess is so inspiring that I do not believe a good player is capable of having an evil thought during the game."
Wilhelm Steinitz, interview with J. Moquette, 1896

"Dazzling combinations are for the many, shifting wood is for the few."
Georg Kieninger, Deutsche Schachhefte, 1950

"Nowadays, when you're not a grandmaster at 14, you can forget about it." Anand Viswanathan

"A computer beat me in chess, but it was no match when it came to kickboxing"Signature of an anonymous message board user.

"My life has been determined by the move e2-e1N."
Johan Barendregt, interview with Max Pam, 1972

Weaknesses of character are normally shown in a game of chess. Gary Kasparov

A good sacrifice is one that is not necessarily sound but leaves your opponent dazed and confused.
Rudolph Spielmann

Chess is the art which expresses the science of logic

Mikhail Botvinnik

Chess is a fight Emanuel Lasker

Chess is the art of analysis Mikhail Botvinnik


Sam Grumont said...

Hi Steve,
I’ve got 4 sets of chess pieces and heaps of boards so I’ll make up a kit and deliver to Gary Fry the principal. I spoke to Kevin Brown at Winters Flat yesterday and Sam Chapman whose class Harry worked in and both were extremely positive about the session. Harry did well and Sam said she learnt a lot and I think Harry learnt a bit about making things concrete, so it’s a collaborative process --- very exciting.

I read the revised piece you wrote and think it’s terrific. I made a note that you have a real writing voice, which is something difficult to teach. It is great to read and made me more enthusiastic.

Also I ran into Steve Tobias at the supermarket last night, and surprisingly we talked for ages. He’s keen as mustard to keep working with the chess and preparing a paper for the maths conference, which I think is a great goal. I won’t be able to make Friday’s meeting but I’ll arrange another one with you, Harry and the tutors to review and reflect. I asked Sam Chapman if she’d be prepared to correspond by email as we do and she is keen, so I’ll use her reflective thoughts in our discussion.
Your fellow incubator,


Harry poulton said...

Hi Steve,
Sam Grumont came to Winters Flat today. He really promoted the “Chess in Schools’ program brilliantly, and he spoke in depth about the Acer Article you wrote to the principal- Kevin Brown. Sam was really impressed by the article and described some of the details of what you wrote in the article. Sam really impressed upon me, at least, while he was talking to Kevin, that ‘Chess in Schools’ is an important program valued by the hierarchy.
Kevin really treated me respectfully and was very supportive of the program.
I have a brilliant dedicated class teacher in Winters Flat P.S- Sam Chapman. She really made the lesson work with her ability to turn ideas into concrete hands on learning activities Regards

steve carroll said...

Hi Sam,
Harry came into my year 7 class on Friday. They were a bit rowdy (as they often are). Your comment about how well Winters Flat was set-up made me realise the room probably wasnt set up perfectly- tables were in groups of 4 with 2 students on each table not facing the front. This created some problems.
A really interesting thing happened!I asked 2 questions:
a)who wants to do something else besides chess (2 responses), who would rather play chess (14 responses)
b) Who wants to learn chess properly? (1 response), and who just wants to learn the moves and play (14),
So, overwhelmingly they want to play, but just want to be left to their own devises. I'm inclined to let a few sessions run like this and let them build their enjoyment before teaching them the 'finer details'.

Harry poulton said...

Hi Steve,
Here are my reflections on the class from last Friday.
We had a class where there is a group of low performing, disaffected students. They simply did not want to learn but they did want to play-chess, games, sport anything, provided it was not focused, concentrated, disciplined learning based on self application and reflection.
There were students amongst the group who suffer from ‘Low Frustration Tolerance’ or LFT. They find motivation, concentration and goal orientate learning difficult and the slightest sign of difficulty arouses aversion in them.
The self directed learner is an alien concept to them. There were also some highly motivated students who were really on song, focused and fully engaged in solving the problems raised in their games.
The students can be divided up into a number of categories; disinterested and disruptive, interested but unfocused, interested and focused. The highest percentages were in the interested and unfocused category. They wanted to play but did not see the value in instruction.
They feel they know it all.
How can we help them see the benefit in self-directed, goal orientated learning where they see the value in tuition.
Chess is fun and competitive and as a skill it can only be mastered by training, guidance and practice.
How to develop a chess program that will impart the idea of focused self education and appreciation of teacher guidance.


AndeTheGrim said...


ran my first 2 chess lessons over the last week. my situation may be a bit different because the kids in the class are basically my chess club and they are all interested in chess, although they do include some of the more challenging students in the school.

anyway it went very well. we covered the material from the first 2 lesson plans in about 1 1/2 sessions then moved onto the principles of the opening. i like to stress three things here:
1 establishing a pawn in the center (with an associated discussion about why the center is important)
2 developing pieces (minor pieces first with focus on the center)
3 castling the king

we will continue our investigation into this next lesson - i will show them some baisc king and queenside opeinings then get them to priactice them in some matches

from there i intend to move onto mating with K+Q, R+R, and K+R

-andrew grimshaw

AndeTheGrim said...

I would also like to add some comments about people having trouble getting kids to focus on the study rather than the play part of chess

i do think it is important that at first the kids are just allowed to play - it is the only way that the movement of the pieces and the dimensions of the board become intuitive

when it comes to studying strategy and tactics, the students have to be self-motivated. my chess club kids had a term of playng in the club at lunchtimes and are now really keen to learn to play well. i would not want to foist chess study onto kids who dont really care whether they play well or not.

in the lessons themselves i have been mixing them 70-30 between theory and practice (plenty opportunity for practice at lunchtime) theory consists of demo with the Data projector (i have CHESSMASTER 9000, which allows you to set up positions), discussion and .... NOTES (yes notes!)

-andrew grimshaw

Greg Smith said...

Hi Chess in Schools Group,
Sorry to have missed last weeks meeting. Have so far delivered only two chess lessons but both of these went well. All students were polite and attentive and had a good grasp of piece movement. They settled quickly to their games. Now that I see the diversity within the classes my challenge is to keep all students engaged. I have made a graphic teaching aid using timber and nails, ( inspired by John Lavery's and Harry Poulton's) and hope to demonstrate some fun games, problem rubrics and useful theory. Chess is, so far, easier to teach than my other methods. I will report more after this weeks lessons.
Greg Smith.

steve said...

For those who dont know, Andethegrim, is a teacher from (way) outside our cluster, who has joined our program. Welcome Ande!

Harr said...

Hi Everyone,
I would like to introduce you to Rhonni Croft.
We are going international.We are about to develop the program in Japan. Rhonni lives and works in Japan as a teacher and is planning to come on board with the 'Chess in Schools' program. Rhonni is a science teacher with a passion for ICT. Rhonni has enthusiasm and passion and is interested in stategies to improve learning.She is coming to Castlemaine from Japan soon to check out the program and we will build a connection with her school through ICT.

steve carroll said...

dont you mean we are EXPLORING THE POSSIBILITY of going natonal? I'm struggling to keep up with 'local' concept.
But, I'm starting to sound negative!
Hate that!
I know CSC has a cultural exchange program with Japan and a number of Japanese students are billeted to families around town. (I think primaries are involved)


Hello Harry, and thank you so much for your emails.

I`m at the internet cafe now, but I`m keen to learn more and check out the blog once i get to melbourne and have a little more time :) I think it`s a fantastic idea to build these international links and i would be very eager to do that. in the new job, i will be involved in extra-curriculur activities, and chess was mentioned as one that i could take on - here it is after school though... but i`m sure we can work on the times and ways to arrange interaction during the day.

It`s a most fantastic idea! And soo too is coming down to see the primary school chess program in action - i`d really like that. and of course it will be cool if we can meet :)

okey doke, gotta fly for now, just wanted to say a big thank you and that i will read these in more detail after my flight.

as i am going into the school tomorrow to pick up my teaching schedule and some teaching resources and curricular, i think i`ll re-mention my interest in the chess program to the principal, and tell him a little about what you are achieving in australia with your fantastic work - i think he`ll really like it and be super interested (*o*)/

cheers again,

rhonni :)

Harry said...

Hi Steve, Sam and everyone,
Now that the 'Chess in Schools' program is going international with a sister school linking up with us in Japan, ICT is more important than ever.One thing I have not pushed as much as I would have liked thus far are the free chess websites. Here are some great URLs:www.gameknot.com
www.ChessWorld.net and check out ChessDryad.com. All these sites are worth a look at and they wont cost kids anything to use.
Regards Harry

Anonymous said...

Greets to the webmaster of this wonderful site! Keep up the good work. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Really amazing! Useful information. All the best.

Anonymous said...

I used to think that I knew enough about Chess to hold my own in a Primary classroom. The upshot of Ron's visits to my school is that this is no longer the case. My last loss was to a grade three child! You can see why I wish to remain anonymous...Oh the shame...but now I am keenly listening to his strategies so that in the future I may again be able to complete at a level that saves face with 8-12 year olds.
Thanks Ron, it has been a fantastic program with far reaching benefits, so pleased to hear that the program will be extended!

milly grade 5 said...

I think this program is fun and educational. It is an opportunity for other kids to learn other games. Also it adds to the educational curriculum in our school. It adds also to your knowledge and gameplaying of this particular mental excersizing sport! I personally learned a lot about chess, I learned about pins, forks, skewers etc. I also learned the reasons of these manoeuvers. I am very grateful to harry for putting this interesting site on the web so that we can give our own opinions!