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Katende Chess Initiative

This week I met with Robert Katende, best known as "Coach" in the Queen of Katwe Disney movie. Did you know that the movie is true-to-life in nearly every detail? Every chess game is the actual game played thanks to Robert's consulting role. I was astounded to learn that 41 college degrees have come out of Katwe Uganda so far. Further more, a $150 monthly salary is in the upper end of average earnings. Remember Phiona and Benjamin? Phiona Mutesi is now with Deloitte after leaving a role at Microsoft and Benjamin is a graduate of Duke university. The movie brought awareness for chess in Uganda and Africa as a whole. But it didn't translate into as much direct support for the persevering work of Katende as one might imagine. Making a difference There are now more than 25,000 children whose lives are made better by the work of Katende's team and graduates. What impacted me the most in our meeting was how every $ in these chess programs is maximized. With such a low salary compared to U.S. standards, it is a monumental investment to afford chess equipment for these very poor communities. In some ways, this reflects that grassroots efforts of startup chess programs in the U.S. and other parts of the world that don't receive school funding but need to raise funds on their own. Supporting Katende Programs This National Chess Day, we are donating 5% of every order using promo code KATENDE. This will enable Robert's programs to obtain equipment at no cost so that they can utilize the funds on much needed other areas of the program development. Save 15% and we'll send 5% to promote youth chess in a Katende program.   Use promo code KATENDE in checkout or apply code to shop.

New perspectives on proven tools

Joanna and I watched the sun lower this week across the Haro Strait near Lime Kiln lighthouse. Several times a year, Orca whales breach during the sunset in this spot. This evening, smoke enhanced the pink red sun surrounded with pastel hues with a greyish blue backdrop. It was time to pause completely and see the sun set in a fresh new light. Although no Orcas where spotted, it was a mesmerizing, calming panorama.  If you visit the beautiful Pacific Northwest, be sure to take a ferry or small flight to the San Juan island, the second largest of hundreds of islands in the region. It's a fascinating region visited by some well known figures.This piece of Washington state might have belonged to England and later Canada if it weren't for the Pig War in which the only casualty was a pig!  It might well have been settled over a game of chess between the American and English camps but unfortunately it was not. When planning class curriculum, effective learning doesn't require that latest gadgets. Experiences and methods that worked before can be shared in a fresh new way. There has been some remarkable innovation in devices to support chess play. However, some of the most useful tools for chess learning are the classic concepts that haven't changed much over the years. Chess computers have been around for decades and these days some may seem outdated. But it's exactly these basic tools that parents and educators are recommending to assist children with healthy brain development that's associated with the use of fine motor skills and strategy concepts. Chess School is an inexpensive chess computer that provides hours of play and learning.     

14 Tips to Starting a School Chess Club

Starting a chess program for students in a school can be a rewarding and intellectually enriching endeavor. Chess is known to enhance critical thinking, problem-solving, and strategic planning skills in students. Here's a step-by-step guide to help you get started:1. Research and Planning:Begin by researching the benefits of chess in education. Gather information about successful chess programs in schools, both locally and globally. Understand the curriculum, resources, and strategies they employ. Identify the age groups and grade levels you wish to target.2. Support and Approval:Seek support from the school administration, teachers, and parents. Explain the educational benefits of chess and how it aligns with the school's goals. Obtain the necessary approvals to ensure a smooth start and ongoing support.3. Recruit Chess Enthusiasts:Identify teachers, parents, or community members who are enthusiastic about chess and willing to volunteer their time. Having knowledgeable and passionate individuals involved can greatly enhance the program's success.4. Resources and Equipment:Gather chess sets, boards, and clocks from Chess House school supplies. If budget allows, invest in good quality equipment that can withstand regular use. You might also consider digital platforms for virtual practice and learning.5. Curriculum Development:Develop a structured curriculum based on the students' age and skill levels. Start with the basics of chess rules, piece movements, and the objective of the game. Gradually introduce more advanced concepts like tactics, strategies, and openings.6. Lesson Plans:Create engaging lesson plans that combine theory and practice. Incorporate interactive activities, puzzles, and games to reinforce learning. Make sure the lessons are progressive, allowing students to build upon their skills.7. Chess Club or Class:Decide whether you want to establish an after-school chess club or integrate chess into the curriculum as an elective class. Both options have their advantages; a club offers flexibility, while a class ensures a consistent learning schedule.8. Promotion and Recruitment:Promote the chess program through school newsletters, announcements, and parent-teacher meetings. Highlight the cognitive benefits of chess and its positive impact on academic performance.9. Engaging Activities:Organize regular chess tournaments, friendly matches, and interactive sessions. These activities foster a sense of camaraderie among students and provide opportunities to apply their skills in a fun and competitive environment.10. Ongoing Training:Provide regular training for the volunteer instructors. Encourage them to attend workshops, online courses, or seek certification from chess organizations. Well-trained instructors can deliver high-quality instruction and maintain student engagement.11. Assessment and Recognition:Introduce a system to track students' progress. Recognize achievements through certificates, medals, or trophies. Celebrate milestones and improvements to boost students' motivation.12. Parent Involvement:Encourage parents to participate in the chess program. Organize parent-child chess events, where students can showcase their skills and enjoy chess with their families.13. Feedback and Adaptation:Collect feedback from students, parents, and instructors regularly. Use this feedback to refine the curriculum, adjust teaching methods, and enhance the overall program experience.14. Showcase Success:Regularly share success stories, improvements in critical thinking, and academic achievements resulting from the chess program. This demonstrates the program's value and encourages more students to join.Starting a chess program in a school requires careful planning, dedication, and a genuine interest in fostering students' intellectual growth. By creating a structured curriculum, involving passionate instructors, and engaging students through interactive challenges, you can establish a successful and rewarding chess program that leaves a lasting impact on young minds. Chess4Life can help you run a successful program by guiding you and providing resources for the elements above.

The FIDE Chess World Championship: A Millennia-Old Saga of Intellectual Mastery

The FIDE Chess World Championship stands as the epitome of human intellect and strategy, a battle of minds played out on a checkered battlefield. Originating from the most ancient realms of strategy games, chess has evolved over centuries to become a universal language that transcends cultures and backgrounds. The World Championship, organized by the Fédération Internationale des Échecs (FIDE), the international chess governing body, has been the pinnacle of chess competition since its inception, showcasing the most brilliant players and memorable moments in the annals of the game's history. Early History: The origins of chess are steeped in legend and myth, tracing back over a millennium. Although the precise beginnings remain disputed, it is widely believed that chess, in its rudimentary forms, emerged in the Indian subcontinent during the 6th century. As the game evolved and spread across the world, it gained patronage among emperors, scholars, and nobles alike. By the 15th century, chess had firmly established itself in Europe, adopting the rules and structure that closely resemble the modern game. However, the formalization of the Chess World Championship didn't materialize until the late 19th century. In 1886, Wilhelm Steinitz, an Austrian and later American player, emerged as the inaugural World Chess Champion after defeating Johannes Zukertort. This marked the beginning of a tradition that would grow in prominence and global recognition over the ensuing years. Evolution of the Championship: The early decades of the World Chess Championship saw players predominantly from Europe, where the game had taken firm hold. Emanuel Lasker, a German mathematician and philosopher, held the title for an impressive 27 years from 1894 to 1921, showcasing a blend of intellectual prowess and strategic depth. Lasker's reign set the stage for subsequent titans of the game. The mid-20th century witnessed the emergence of the Soviet Union as a chess powerhouse. The era of Soviet dominance, which lasted for decades, produced legendary players such as Mikhail Botvinnik, who played a pivotal role in shaping modern chess theory. The Cold War rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union also found a unique battleground on the chessboard. Notable Players and Iconic Moments: The annals of the Chess World Championship are replete with remarkable players and indelible moments. One of the most iconic matches occurred in 1972, when American grandmaster Bobby Fischer faced Soviet champion Boris Spassky in Reykjavik, Iceland. This "Match of the Century" transcended chess, becoming a symbolic struggle between ideologies, as Fischer's triumph underscored his strategic genius and the allure of individualism in the midst of a global rivalry. Anatoly Karpov and Garry Kasparov, both Soviet-born players, engaged in a legendary rivalry in the 1980s and 1990s. Their battles highlighted the shift in chess dynamics, as Karpov's solid positional play clashed with Kasparov's aggressive and imaginative style. This rivalry, often compared to the Cold War tensions of their time, showcased the evolving nature of chess strategy. Modern Era and Globalization: The latter part of the 20th century and the early 21st century saw the globalization of chess, with players from various nations rising to prominence. Vishwanathan Anand, an Indian player, became the World Chess Champion in 2007, signaling the game's increasing popularity in non-traditional chess nations. The ascent of players like Magnus Carlsen, a Norwegian prodigy known for his deep understanding of positions and endgames, demonstrated the fusion of classical and modern chess approaches. Carlsen's reign as World Chess Champion has marked a new chapter in the championship's history. His matches have showcased the blending of classical principles with computer-assisted preparation, highlighting the evolving relationship between humans and technology in the world of chess. Grandmaster Carlsen, the famous Norwegian superstar has achieved a remarkable feat, winning one more match than the very first champion, Wilhelm Steinitz, and the fourth champion, Alexander Alekhine, did. When we count tied matches as well, only two former world champions, the second champion Emanuel Lasker and the 13th champion Garry Kasparov, managed to win six matches. In a surprising move, somewhat characteristic of Carlsen, then world champion Magnus decided in 2022 not to defend his world title, saying "I’m not motivated to play another match," said Carlsen. "I don’t have a lot to gain. I don't particularly like it, and although I’m sure a match would be interesting for historical reasons, I don’t have any inclinations to play and I will simply not play the match." This decision unexpectedly paved the way for a formidable contender to emerge in the field. The highly anticipated match took place in 2023, featuring the clash between two chess titans: GM Ian Nepomniachtchi representing Russia and GM Ding Liren representing China. Ultimately, it was GM Ding who secured victory, as detailed in an enlightening article on   In Conclusion: The FIDE Chess World Championship embodies the quintessence of intellect and strategy, a timeless saga that has unfolded over centuries. From its enigmatic origins to the modern-day battles of minds, the championship has witnessed the evolution of chess from a pastime to a global phenomenon. Notable players, iconic matches, and the interplay of cultures and ideologies have all contributed to its rich tapestry. As the championship continues to captivate audiences and inspire aspiring grandmasters, it remains a testament to the enduring allure of a game that challenges the boundaries of human thought and creativity.   World Championship Chessboards: The type of chess boards used during the FIDE Chess World Championship can vary from one championship to another and is typically determined by the organizers and sponsors. However, there are certain standards and preferences that are commonly followed in high-level chess competitions, including the World Championship.In professional chess tournaments, including the FIDE Chess World Championship, a common choice for chess boards is the DGT (Digital Game Technology) electronic chess boards. These boards have built-in sensors that detect the movement of pieces and transmit the moves digitally. This allows for live broadcasting, analysis, and recording of games in real-time.DGT boards are often paired with computer software, which can display the game on screens for spectators, commentators, and online viewers. This combination of physical boards with digital integration enhances the viewer experience and allows for more accurate and efficient recording of moves.The pieces used on these boards are Staunton-style pieces, which are the standard for tournament play. These pieces are easily recognizable and have specific shapes for each type of piece, making them suitable for players and spectators alike.It's important to note that the specific type of boards and pieces used can still vary based on the preferences of the organizers, sponsors, and the players themselves. The aim is to provide a high-quality and professional playing environment for the participants and an engaging experience for the audience.