WHY START A CHESS CLUB?
BY MIKE WOLFE, FORMER OHSCTA EXECUTIVE SECRETARY
- Chess often touches kids who don’t get involved in other activities.
- Chess can help raise academic performance, often because it encourages logical thinking and problem-solving, and because it teaches people to sit still and concentrate.
- Chess is inexpensive.
- Like many other competitive activities, participation in chess helps young people learn the values of sportsmanship and fair play.
- In recent years, in many schools, chess has shed its “nerdy” image. At our school, the players earn athletic letters, are recognized in the announcements and at assemblies, and the spirit squad puts signs up in the halls encouraging them and congratulating them for their achievements.
- Those trophies sure look good in your classroom, office, or trophy case!
- It’s just plain fun. I’m in my 27th year of teaching, and upon reflection, I realize that working with the chess teams has been one of the highlights of my career. Some of the trips we’ve taken together, some of our unexpected victories, and yes, some of our most disappointing losses, have all added up to make the experience one I would never trade.
STARTING A CHESS CLUB 101
- Get a chess board and pieces
- Go somewhere where students congregate. (The cafeteria, the library, or other common areas are great, but check first to see if there are rules about such things.)
- Set up the chess set and sit down on one side
- Wait. (Eventually someone will come up and say something like, “why are you sitting here with a chess set?” Respond in a friendly way and invite them to play. They may or may not accept, but sooner or later, someone will sit down to play you.)
- Be sure to get their name
- Others will begin gathering around. (Some will wish to kibitz; let them. Others will say they could do better than your opponent, and still others will say they could beat you. Give them a chance.)
- Do this for a day or two, and if it’s going well, the next day bring more than one chess board.
- Take names. Now you have a chess club!
- At your first meeting, offer a drawing for prizes for everyone who brings at least one person whose name wasn’t already on your list.
- Play a lot of chess. It’s not time yet for lessons on how to checkmate with KNB vs. K.
- Play even more chess.
- Now have a tournament. If you’re trying to form a team, have a “ladder” tournament where people can challenge those above and those below for position. The team will consist of the top five players.
- Contact OHSCTA to see what other teams might be in your area. Schedule a match against another school, and you might be on your way to fame and greatness as a future state championship program!
- Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess
- Jeff Coakley’s chess series
- Yassar Seirawan’s books
- Bruce Pandolfini’s books
- Chessmaster (any version)