In June we added the excellent video Chess is like a Camellia to our video section here. Liu Shilan featured in that video, which was mainly about Fuxin primary school. During the recent Women's Grand Prix tournament in Shenzhen, Nastia Karlovich interviewed Liu Shilan, and this is what the 9-time national women's champion had to say:
Chess in schools has a long history in Shenzhen. It got under way thanks largely to the work of Liu Shilan, a Chinese female chess player and holder of the WGM title, which she received in 1982. She is also nine-time China National Women's Champion. During the Women’s Grand Prix in Shenzhen she explained (our thanks to Nastia for this report) the development of the chess in schools program there.
In 1992 I moved to Shenzhen and there were only three kids who were interested in playing chess. People didn’t know anything about chess, so I personally approached the head of every school and every kindergarten, asking them to include chess lessons in their school programme, trying to convince them at least to try it. I was a deputy of the parliament in Shenzhen at the moment, so of course this status and my chess successes helped to open doors for me to speak with people and encourage them. They trusted me and nowadays we have 163 schools which have chess lessons.
Liu Shilan-Kirsan Ilyumzhinov
more excellent photos adorn the text that follows.
All schools in China are run by the state, so the school programme was adopted by the Chinese National People's Congress. There is an obligatory programme and an extra, elective programme, so from the beginning we got a special directive from the Ministry of Education and Sport that chess could be chosen as a part of the extra programme. I showed this document to the directors of schools in Shenzhen because nobody knew about this possibility.
|Giant chess set in Fuxin Primary School
||Chess lesson in Fuxin Primary School
Kirsan plays one of the strongest middle school pupils - Xu Yuhua (Women's World Ch 2006-2008) watches
Directors of Fuxin PS and 6th Secondary, Samara sign a cooperation agreement
During the first few days of the Grand Prix, we visited two schools with FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov. The Second Middle School is the best in Shenzhen and you must get very good marks to gain a place there. The director has a big respect for chess; he believes that chess helps in general education and he allows the best chess players to enter his school without the need to pass the exams. He is very pleased with the results – it is those children who usually get the best grades in their university entrance exams, so he has continued this practice for 15 years. We also started to prepare lessons for all teachers and parents, so that they could help their children both in class and at home. We have many friends and supporters here. Many of them are volunteers; they just try to help us. It would be impossible to achieve such a good result without the help of all the enthusiasts, such as our Shenzhen representative in Samara (region of Russia), who helps to organize chess events between schools from Shenzhen and Samara. We also have great support from the Chinese Chess Federation. I’m a very lucky person, because I have so many friends. The current World Champion Hou Yifan, former World Champions - all of them were in Shenzhen and gave simuls for the children.
15 years ago I also got some very important support from the supermarket Shi Bao, a Hong Kong company. We organized chess events and that supermarket gave special prizes: refrigerators, TV-sets, microwaves, computers - everybody got a prize. Believe me, to win a TV-set or a refrigerator 15 years ago meant the same thing as to win a flat today! Many parents started to bring their children to chess lessons - that’s how chess became fashionable in Shenzhen 15 years ago.
My daughter managed to win quite a few TV-sets and refrigerators; she was a champion of Shenzhen and won so many TV-sets (laughing) that we didn’t know where to put them! Nowadays, I’m trying to represent chess as an intellectual sport. I created a special lesson for the deputies of Shenzhen parliament, so that all of them can learn about chess and understand why it is so good for children. They will surely pay still more attention to chess activities in the future.
Full interview: http://shenzhen2011.fide.com/interview-with-nine-time-chinese-champion-liu-shilan.html