05 November, 2007

Sam Grumont interviews Ross Allengame

It's stalwarts like Ross Allengame who make Chess-Squared successful. Here, the Castlemaine Primary School teacher talks to Sam Grumont about his recent success in our cluster tournament and the benefits of chess in his classroom.

Sam: what is your reaction to your kids winning the chess tournament?

Ross: I was very, very pleased with the way they performed. I was a bit worried about round 5 as they all had one defeat by then but they managed wins in the next two rounds.

Sam: are they all grade 4 students?

Ross: the majority are grade 4 with 4 grade 5 kids and two grade 6 kids. Oscar Black won the boys champion, he’s a quiet achiever, and he only started playing chess this year. He plays his father at home and me at lunchtimes quite often, taking notes and participated in chess seminars during last holidays.

Sam: what do you attribute the success and enthusiasm of the kids in playing chess?

Ross: probably how you set the room up and what you are really trying to achieve with the game of chess. Are you trying to achieve a passive sort of game or are you really making it a game of war where there is a bit of competition to see who can actually win? If so who is going to win on points, going to win on time, and who’s going to be king of the heap?

Sam: Can you tell us a little about the tables and the round robin competition?

Ross: That has provided a focus for everyone to come back after ten weeks to see where they are up to, making sure they are here on a Thursday to make sure they don’t go down in points and also giving those people who are really good that keen eyes like who’s coming up to beat them and working out tactics for who to play to get more points in the game.

Sam: some kids have surprised you this year?

Ross: I’ve got a lot of troubled children in my room. They’ve had a lot of behaviour problems, a lot of issues at home, a lot of personal issues, but chess has been a way of keeping them concentrated over a period of time. They’ve actually concentrated more with chess and pass that back into the classroom with their ordinary work, keeping things a lot quieter, concentrating and not annoying other kids in the room.

Sam: Finally what pieces of advice do you have for someone setting up chess for the first time?

Ross: keep it simple. I’d probably do something similar to my dungeons to warlords system for teaching chess and then I’d probably go into a competition scenario where there is a round robin or a day chess competition. You don’t need a lot of knowledge with chess, I can play only a little above kids chess but a little bit of extra help with expertise as we have with the chess tutors, can be very handy. It’s a learning curve for you as a teacher.

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