Libraries Up Their Game By Adding Chess

It’s no secret that libraries have always been wonderful gathering places for folks of all ages within their communities. While everyone expects that they’ll offer not only the best books and, occasionally, even a few lectures or classes, did you know that some also host “Gaming Day” programs?  Many of the rural libraries that we’ve reached out to have already set aside a specific time of the week to provide board games for their patrons in order to foster a little friendly competition among both old and young, alike.  Now, they’re upping the ante by adding chess to the mix.

While plenty of games offer a brain boost, chess is different.  It’s an “activity that has been shown to improve cognitive abilities, emotional intelligence, and academic performance as well as being fun,” writes a 32-year veteran elementary school teacher and librarian in rural N.C.  “Playing chess gives your brain a workout and develops beneficial skills, such as problem solving, strategic thinking, and concentration that spill over into other intellectual pursuits,” says a librarian who is constantly on the look-out for personal enrichment activities for members of the community.  Even though some have admitted to being a bit intimidated by the game, they are willing to learn by going through the workbooks we provide in order to instruct their patrons.  After that, they can all continue learning together.

One of the most common reasons these librarians want to start a club is their desire to bring an intergenerational community together. The relationships that are sure to develop between players of different ages will strengthen community ties. While it can be a challenge to find activities that appeal to such a broad age range, chess can close that gap. It’s a game for the ages, because it’s a game for all ages. A few of the librarians who reached out to us have plans to contact their local high school chess clubs for ideas, instruction, and inspiration, while others will leverage the partnerships they have with the YMCA, Boys and Girls Clubs, and their local homeschool association.  As one woman wrote, “Libraries are well positioned to promote the Game Changer Program.” 

Scholastic tournaments on school holidays

Holidays and breaks from school are a great time to hold scholastic tournaments since so many students are available. 34 students and 3 parents had fun playing in our Game Changer tournament today at the Triangle Chess Center while Wake, Durham, and Orange County schools were out.

You can give even more students a chance to play by holding a tournament at school on the afternoon of an early release day or on a teacher workday. For example, we had 122 students play in a tournament on an early release day before winter break in 2017. These events are convenient for parents, too.

Consider holding one at your school!

Start an elementary school chess club

Are you a parent or teacher looking to start an elementary school chess club? Here are some good first steps:

1) Register your club. Follow your school’s process for registering your club and getting support from your PTA. This will help you reserve space to meet, promote your club in the school/PTA newsletter, and potentially get funding to buy some chess sets. Apply for our Game Changer Program to get 5 chess sets, and see our previous post for recommendations on where to buy more.

Continue reading “Start an elementary school chess club”

Game Changer Program now provides chess sets to help NC schools start new chess clubs

We are excited to announce that the Indermaur Chess Foundation has enhanced the Game Changer Program to provide 5 chess sets along with instructional resources and support to each accepted school. Our goal is to help 100 North Carolina schools start new chess clubs!

NC public or charter schools starting new chess programs are eligible to apply. Accepted schools will receive:

  • 5 chess sets each with a 20-inch vinyl board and a set of chess pieces (We currently have colorful, weighted pieces. Please let us know your school colors so we can try to match them.)
  • Chess-Steps Learning Chess instructor manual
  • a Chess-Steps Learning Chess student workbook (and discounts on additional workbooks)
  • help setting up ChessKid accounts for their club
  • online support for their chess program coordinator
  • help arranging online or over-the-board matches with other schools in this Program

Now, it’s your move!

Apply now to bring the benefits of chess to your school.

If you would like to help more schools start chess clubs, please donate to support this Program.

Game Changer Program to help NC schools start new chess clubs

We are excited to announce that the Indermaur Chess Foundation will help up to 100 North Carolina schools start new chess clubs with our new Game Changer Program!

NC public or charter schools starting new chess programs are eligible to apply. Accepted schools will receive:

  • a Chess-Steps Learning Chess instructor manual
  • a Chess-Steps Learning Chess student workbook (and discounts on additional workbooks)
  • help setting up ChessKid accounts for their club
  • online support for their chess program coordinator
  • help arranging online or over-the-board matches with other schools in this Program

To apply for our Game Changer Program, please complete this application.

Are you interested in starting a chess club at your school?

Our goal is to provide you the resources and support so that you feel comfortable doing exactly that! Soccer leagues across NC help thousands of parents coach recreational soccer teams even if they have no previous experience teaching soccer. Through this Game Changer Program we will provide you similar help so you can start and successfully run a chess club at your school.

Resources we selected for you:

We selected the resources for this Program after testing instructional materials with elementary school, middle school, and home school chess programs led by school teachers, parents, and older student volunteers.

Learning Chess: Step 1 Manual and Workbook: the Chess Step method was originally developed in the Netherlands to teach children to play chess. It quickly spread across Europe and is now available worldwide. Each of the six steps in the method has a workbook with exercises and summaries for the student and an accompanying manual for the trainer. The manuals contain complete scripted lessons for the teacher as well as aids to address typical challenges children face at each stage of learning. The books are written so that trainers do not need extensive chess knowledge. Step 1 explains all the rules of chess and helps students develop the basic skills needed to play chess (from beginner up to a USCF rating of 800).

ChessKid.com: ChessKid is a fun, safe website and app for children to learn and practice chess. The new ChessKid Classroom Lesson Planner guides teachers and students through the most important 30 lessons that every new chess player needs to learn. We found that students really enjoyed the video lessons. Beginners liked playing against the robot while more experienced students liked playing against other students and solving puzzles. Students who practiced with ChessKid at home improved more rapidly.

Now, it’s your move!

Apply now to bring the benefits of chess to your school.

If you would like to help more schools start chess clubs, please donate to support this Program.

Chess Moms Can Play Chess, Too – October 9, 2019

We helped the Hunter Elementary School Chess Club in Raleigh apply for a grant from the US Chess Women’s Program to hold a “Chess Moms Can Play Chess, Too” event. Hunter was one of 11 programs in the country to be awarded one of these grants funded by a generous gift in partnership with the Saint Louis Chess Club.

WFM Anuprita Patil of the Kings and Queens Chess Academy will give a brief talk to start the event on October 9 (which is a WCPSS teacher workday).

Each woman participating will receive a ChessKid basic adult account, free entry to our Chess Moms tournament for themselves and their children (who will play in a separate section), and free entry to 2019-2020 Hunter chess tournaments. The first 25 women to register will also receive a one-year online USCF membership (a $40 value).

We will present trophies to the winners in each section of the tournament. We will also have some special prizes which we will announce at the event.

Our goals are to encourage more women to play chess and to have more parent volunteers who can play with children during chess club meetings and tournaments.

This flyer has more information: http://bit.ly/ChessMomsFlyer, and here is the link to registerhttp://bit.ly/ChessMoms

Chess in the park!

What a great way to kick off a new year of chess!

GM Magesh Panchanathan and WFM Anu Patil of Kings and Queens Chess Academy in Cary recently hosted their fun “Play Chess in the Park” event for the third year in a row. Lots of kids and adults enjoyed playing chess and solving puzzles outdoors. Beginners got lessons to learn how to play. Everyone had the chance to play against masters in a simultaneous exhibition. They also learned about the new events the Academy has planned for this year including:

  • Friday Fall League (1300+): Sept. 27 – Dec. 20, 6:30pm, G/90;d5, $5/each for members, $10/each for non-members
  • Cary Saturday Rapids (U1000): Sept. 28, Oct. 5, 26, Nov. 2, 16, Dec. 14, 21 4:30pm, G/30;+5, $20 members, $25 non-members
  • Cary Super Sundays (1000+): Sept. 29, Oct. 27, Nov. 17, Dec. 22 10am, G/90;d5, $25 members, $30 non-members

Playing chess outdoors would be a great way for any club to kick off their year. It would be a fun way to celebrate at the end of year, too.

Why should schools have chess clubs?

School chess clubs provide many benefits to students and schools, but very few schools have them due to financial constraints or a lack of support for volunteer chess organizers. We have personally seen hundreds of families experience these benefits through the clubs where we volunteer, so we started the Indermaur Chess Foundation to help more North Carolina schools start chess clubs.

Students playing chess can improve academic skills such as concentration, reasoning, creativity, and problem solving. Numerous studies have confirmed that chess improves academic performance including these compiled by:

Children can also enhance life skills through chess, such as learning from mistakes, considering consequences, thinking ahead, and building confidence. Compared with other sports or academic competitions, chess is a great equalizer. Chess players do not have an advantage based on their age, gender, physical size, race, religion, or socio-economic status. In fact, young children who practice can routinely beat older opponents.

Chess clubs can also contribute to a school’s sense of community as children can play and become friends with students from every grade and class in their school. Parents who volunteer get to know parents from other grades, and families with multiple children at the school can have them all participate in the same club.

Unfortunately, very few NC schools have chess programs or clubs. In the 2015-2016 school year, NC had 2,433 public schools, 159 charter schools, and 742 private schools based on “Facts & Figures 2015-2016” and “NC Private K-12 School Statistics.”

While direct statistics on the number of NC school chess clubs are not available, most school clubs will have some students play in outside tournaments, so tournament statistics can be used to estimate the number of schools with chess clubs. According to ChessStream.com, in 2018-2019, 348 NC schools have at least 1 student who has have played in a US Chess Federation-rated tournament, and 129 NC schools have at least 4 students who have played in a rated tournament. Based on these statistics, we estimate that fewer than 10% of the 3,334 schools in NC have chess clubs.

Most schools follow one of these models to form a chess club:

  1. Schools that have more financial resources will hire a professional chess academy or coach to run their club.
  2. Many schools will have a teacher or parent who knows how to play chess lead their club.
  3. Some schools will have a student who is an experienced player lead their club with a teacher or parent sponsor providing support. Most high school clubs use this approach.
  4. Some schools will collaborate with their local public library to form a chess club that meets at the library. These clubs may be run by library staff, a school teacher, or a parent and can meet in the evening or on the weekend to accommodate students from multiple schools.

To form a chess club without hiring a chess coach, schools will need a teacher, parent, or older student who knows how to play chess to lead the club. Most of the parents or teachers who would like their school to have a chess club do not have previous experience teaching chess and may feel nervous about volunteering to lead it. This is where the Indermaur Chess Foundation can help. Our goal is to provide these potential club leaders with instructional materials and access to online resources and support to help them succeed.