Tuesday, May 31, 2011

THOMSON CHESS CLUB CLOSED JUNE 3 FRIDAY

As we are preparing the hall for the annual THOMSON CUP INTERNATIONAL Chess tournament, the session for June 3 Friday will be closed and resumes on June 10.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

HOW MUCH DO STUDENTS RETAIN?

Obviously this applies to those taking chess lessons.

I am always curious as to how much students do remember or understand the lesson that was just taught to them. Very often, examples were shown and explained. However, once the lesson is over, how does the trainer ensure that the lesson just taught was understood?

I usually use the 3 methods to find out:

a. Make them play as soon as possible

b. Give homework and tests

c. Review the same lesson next week for the 1st 15 minutes

There is a constant struggle for the trainer to decide whether to introduce new material or to review older lessons to ensure that the student does understand what has been covered.

Some parents may not be exactly happy that their child has been taught the same lessons over and over and wonder why. Generally, the problem is that if students do not attempt to use the knowledge taught and do nothing until the next lesson, what was taught is forgotten and the trainer has to start again from a clean slate. Of course, this is unproductive so I urge parents to try to allocate some time for their children to play and do the homework assigned. At least 5 games a week of 15 minutes will do a lot in helping the student retain the knowledge so that it can be used in their games.

I have just started with a new student and was appalled when he told me that his previous trainer did not give notes. Naturally I asked if he could remember what he was told. The result? Bits and pieces of moves which he could not associate, especially when he claimed that he could not checkmate the King with 2 Bishops because I placed the King on a "wrong" square (apparently he could only do it on the square where his trainer placed the King).

This way of rote learning does no one any good - we cannot be expecting anyone to learn without any notes to remind the student after the trainer has ended the lesson. This is not a chess issue, its a pedagogical one. That is why I am always suspicious how much chess trainers are aware in terms of pedagogy rather than their chess knowledge. To me, if the student cannot fathom the explanations of the trainer and is taught to ask questions, every chess lesson ends up being a monologue and ....blank goes the mind until the next lesson??

Parents, do ask the right questions to your child if he/she truly understands what is taught. You are paying for it and you have every right.

Friday, May 6, 2011

CHESS CLUBS IN SCHOOLS: THE WAY TO GO?

From the comments made in my previous post, I would like to draw your attention to this article :

http://www.chesskids.com/piagpolg.pdf

Please pay close attention to his last paragraph, especially his views on chess clubs run by teachers or those with no knowledge of the child's cognitive development. 

It is not a pretty scenario. 

Which explains the rationale behind my earlier post : we need chess clubs where young and adults can interact, enjoy the game and learn about its beauty and history. The school chess clubs do not do such a good job at that.  There are lots of retiring chessplayers, primarily those born in the 50's who are approaching 55 years of age and will soon retire. Their passion, knowledge and experience should be tapped by the organising body to help revive these chess clubs in community clubs of remniscent of River Valley, Buona Vista, Kuo Chuan, Siglap and even better, develop new ones in townships like Sengkang, Choa Chu Kang and Jurong West. Mustering these retirees will be a long drawn effort but I am sure it is critical now to start this process, or in Richard James' words, " we may soon be a land without chess".

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

IF YOU MUST PLAY THE SPANISH

Then please do yourself a favour and read this:


I believe this will cut down at least a few good years of sweat and toil and zoom in on the essentials. You can then consult the individual books on the different variations. Possibly the one below will help greatly

There's no need to re-invent the wheel :-)

Sunday, May 1, 2011

LETTER TO SCD EDITOR, AUGUST 1986

Having lost my copy of the Singapore Chess Digest August 1986 ( 25 years ago) which this article of mine was published, I took a trip to the Library to retrieve it and reproduce it unabridged:

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Dear Sir,
    Chess clubs are created solely for players and enthusiasts to interact and exchange ideas regarding the game. It is often the hive of chess activity in strong chess—playing nations like the USA, Britain and West Germany, where friendly matches and club leagues are most popular.

   However, chess clubs today seem to have lost their grip on the chess scene in Singapore. Poor attendances, little activity between clubs and, judging from the number of clubs that have been formed then closed after some months of hunger pangs, the direction of chess is vague and uncertain. Just what does a chess club serve to do for the interested player?

   Well, it is certain that all clubs want to provide competitions for players, be it friendly matches or tournaments. The Queenstown and Cairnhill tournaments are regular crowd-pullers among chess players with their history and prestige. But if we examine these ‘open’ tournaments closely, we will find that they have dominated chess activity so completely that this leaves the player little chance to practice without having to compete. Tournaments should not form the mainstay of chess for a developing nation; rather, what is really needed is the gradual build—up of a broad base of players and the education of these players to appreciate the game. Chess cannot succeed as  a spectator sport because you need to be knowledgeable to appreciate its beauty, as it is in the case of art. Perhaps this should be the direction that the Singapore Chess Federation should consider in its plans to popularise the to promote the game through chess clubs.

   Simultaneous displays, lectures and friendly matches between all club members can attract enthusiasts to enjoy the game more effectively than organising a major ‘open’ tournament. After all, such tournaments are only meant for average players and a great opportunity for the top players to make some pocket money. Due to the adoption of the ‘open’ tournament in recent years, the average player rarely wins anything and this can turn him away from chess as it offers no returns for the time spent in learning about the game. What is worse is that it breeds mercenaries who will only play if there is a prize. Many of these mercenaries are sadly plentiful within the ranks of the juniors, which explains the high attrition rate of chess players after the age of 20. Only a handful of our past junior champions are still playing; can’t anyone just enjoy the game for the game’s sake? Perhaps the competitive element of the game has taken its toll on local players with the lowering of standards in the play of our juniors. The reason is simple: there is no impetus for them to improve as they were not taught to enjoy and love the game. The emphasis is on winning and if you don’t win, you will feel that you are just wasting time.

   Forgive me if I sound too blunt in my views, but I urge the Federation to review its aims and objectives for chess in the ‘80s. Are we content to simply produce ‘professionals’ who come out of concealment to try their luck and then disappear with the prize after winning, or do we need more chess lovers who never get tired of exploring the vast possibilities that chess abounds with? If there are any remnants of talent left to be savoured and corrected before they turn foul, then may I suggest that we start educating our school children now that chess is a tool for creation and recreation and not like tennis or golf.  Money is NOT the only reward

Signed : One concerned chessplayer

The reason why I signed off anonymously was due to the fact that I am not yet a subscriber of the magazine, so I was not sure if it would be proper to sign myself. The editor Mr Alexius Chang nonetheless thought it interesting of some of the points made and decided to publish this.

So tell me, has anything changed since this article was published ??