Thursday, 16 October 2014 10:21
Important Social Aspects of Chess in Schools
It is easy to overlook the social aspects of our chess in schools projects, but we should not. It is typical for members and leaders of chess federations around the world to focus on competitive chess aspects. Since all chess officials have played at some competitive level, however high or low, it is quite natural to think in terms of chess competition involving ‘winners’ and ‘losers.’ That is not ideal in the educational and social context, and there is another way.
The alternate path still has chess competitions but they are much more social in nature. Göran Malmsten in Sweden was a pioneer. Starting in the 1960s, he gradually built up a system combining a chess competition with important aspects of social development. Instead of the familiar 1-1/2-0 (win-draw-loss) scoring system, so ingrained in chess players, he developed 3-2-1. There is another very important part to the system, but first an important subtlety. We should not present this as win-draw-loss, but as one point for taking part, an extra point for a drawn game and two extra points for winning a game. That can make all the difference to a child’s view (and even that of adults) of the chess ‘competition.’ Then we have the ‘coup de grâce’ or, perhaps more appropriately, the ‘coup de Coeur.’
According to the percentage of players from a class, a club, a school, or any other group (according to the entries to a competition), so that is the percentage points to which they are entitled (based on their ‘raw’ score).
EXAMPLE: (every player plays 5 games)
RESULT: Class B finishes far ahead of the ‘far stronger’ Class A players.
What is the point? Is it merely a sop to soften the blow of losing? Far from it!
The remarkable effect of this scoring system, taken as a whole, is that the strongest players, the ‘peer group leaders’ (the most ‘popular’ children in the class) are motivated to ask (even plead with) not only the weaker players, but the very weakest (often the least popular children in the class, those who may find social adjustment difficult) to join in and take part – because we need you!