Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Education Games

How To Fix The Shortage of K-5 Scholastic Chess Facilitators 128

Posted by samzenpus
from the checking-the-checkmate dept.
theodp writes The good news, writes Michael Thomas, is that wired kids are learning chess at an unprecedented rate. Young children learning chess from tablets can quickly become more knowledgeable than their parents. But the bad news, laments Thomas, is there is so much demand for scholastic chess that there are not enough experienced chess facilitators to go around. Could technology like RFID-tagged chess pieces or services like ChessStream.com be employed to referee second-grader chess matches, Thomas wonders, or are more well-meaning-but-not-necessarily-expert human facilitators — a la T-ball coaches — the answer?
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

How To Fix The Shortage of K-5 Scholastic Chess Facilitators

Comments Filter:
  • by Tablizer (95088) on Sunday July 13, 2014 @11:00PM (#47446219) Homepage Journal

    A "shortage"! Quick, import more H1B's!

  • perhaps they will also play chess on tablets.
    • by Tablizer (95088)

      But PacMan keeps eating my pieces

    • by Sqr(twg) (2126054)

      Either that, or just poin a webcam at the table so that a remote judge can be contacted when needed.

      When I played chess as a kid, we'd often play tournament games without a referee. Both players are required to write down the moves (unless short on time) so the game can be played back afterwards if there's any ambiguity. This approach might not work if one of the players is an asshole, but none of the members of our club was.

      The proposals in TFA (brain implants, rfid tags in chess pieces) are stupid beyond

      • The proposals in TFA (brain implants, rfid tags in chess pieces) are stupid beyond belief.

        I have to agree. When I think of special technology for this, what first comes to mind is a variation on the "keyboard projected onto the table" idea, only it's a chessboard projected onto the table. If the software could know which squares were occupied and which weren't, it wouldn't even need to be able to distinguish one piece from another.

        • by AK Marc (707885)
          I remember having a cheap chess set in the '80s that did that. I don't know if it knew which piece was which, but it knew pieces were there. It even could play you, but you had to move the pieces for the "computer". This sounds like using the same thing that was cheap 30 years ago, so it doesn't sound hard at all. But TFA made it much harder than it had to be.
          • I worked on a boat in AK with an old (East) German chief engineer once. He had a slightly more expensive version where the computer would move a magnet under the board to drag the pieces for its move. If a webcam could see the board, it should be easy for any smartphone capable computer to referee play, provided it saw the game from the beginning. I expect modern pattern recognition is up for 64 squares of two alternating colors and whether one has a piece on it or not.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 13, 2014 @11:12PM (#47446253)

    What will we as a society do with an unprecedented crisis such as this looming? With all of the other myriad crises plaguing our nation, this is what keeps me up at night.

    • by Kohath (38547)

      First, try not to panic.

      This is a stressful time for all of us, but we will get through this.

    • by istartedi (132515)

      Obviously, this means war. And strip searches at bus stations. Problem solved.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 13, 2014 @11:15PM (#47446269)

    Every minute playing chess would be better spent learning about algorithms, computer programming, or biology.

    The last thing any parent or teacher should do is encourage playing chess at any serious level. It's like encouraging people to compute logarithms or trigonometric functions longhand on paper; there's some initial benefit in learning some abstract ideas, but then it's just mechanics. And the same is true for chess, and computers have established this in a dramatic way, by showing that simple but fast and deep searches with very simple heuristics can beat any human who has ever lived. A $0.50 pocket calculator can bet any human at the sine function game!

    The argument made in that article that chess is somehow good for the goals of "STEM" makes me laugh out loud, but simultaneously weep that the idea was proposed with apparent sincerity...

    • by m00sh (2538182)

      Every minute playing chess would be better spent learning about algorithms, computer programming, or biology.

      The last thing any parent or teacher should do is encourage playing chess at any serious level. It's like encouraging people to compute logarithms or trigonometric functions longhand on paper; there's some initial benefit in learning some abstract ideas, but then it's just mechanics. And the same is true for chess, and computers have established this in a dramatic way, by showing that simple but fast and deep searches with very simple heuristics can beat any human who has ever lived. A $0.50 pocket calculator can bet any human at the sine function game!

      The argument made in that article that chess is somehow good for the goals of "STEM" makes me laugh out loud, but simultaneously weep that the idea was proposed with apparent sincerity...

      Every minute spent training for a marathon is useless because we have cars. A $50 junker can beat the fastest marathon runner.

      Why is learning about algorithms useful? For every algorithm you learn, there are at least a dozen implementation of the said algorithm.

      • Every minute spent training for a marathon is useless because we have cars.

        Training for a marathon improves physical conditioning and fitness which is arguably useful in it's own right. Cars satisfy transportation needs, but they do little or nothing to improve physical conditioning or fitness. They're different things and not really comparable.

        Why is learning about algorithms useful? For every algorithm you learn, there are at least a dozen implementation of the said algorithm.

        It's the algorithm that's important, not the implementation. Algorithms are discrete methods of abstract problem solving and study of them improves both abstract thinking and general problem solving capability. The game of chess for example

        • by thegarbz (1787294)

          Training for a marathon improves physical conditioning and fitness which is arguably useful in it's own right.

          And yet we constantly hear of studies that show a high degree of constant mental activity is good for the physical condition of the brain and keeping it exercised reduces the risk of dementia.

          In pretty much any physical or mental activity we do as people we gain some kind of benefit. Reading has a benefit, playing computer games has a benefit, solving Rubik's cubes has a benefit, and so does playing chess. I could think of worse things for teenagers to do than mentally stimulating their minds while competin

        • by McDrewbie (530348)
          Chess as a game also teaches people how to be compete and be competitive and be good losers and good winners, and how to learn from their mistakes, and how teach others, and how to have fun, play games and learn at the same time. And it builds self confidence. I'm sure there is an algorithm for that, but I pity the person who needs to spend the time to derive it. (though i don't pity the person who chooses to figure it out, just not one who needs to/) You are suggesting chess as a means to a certain end
      • Why is learning about algorithms useful? For every algorithm you learn, there are at least a dozen implementation of the said algorithm.

        Well said. I play chess because it increases my ability to organize my thoughts and...........it's fun.

        • I play chess because it increases my ability to organize my thoughts and...........it's fun.

          Took you a while to think of that last one though, eh? ;)

          • I play chess because it increases my ability to organize my thoughts and...........it's fun.

            Took you a while to think of that last one though, eh? ;)

            I had to organize my thoughts first

        • by Kalium70 (3437049)

          If people get too worried about this, we will take an activity that kids enjoy doing just for fun into a high-pressure ordeal from that kids dread.

    • by GrahamCox (741991)

      Every minute playing chess would be better spent [fill in your personal alternative here]

      Perhaps people like, y'know, playing chess as a game? It's interesting, it passes the time, and it's actually quite challenging to become even moderately good at the game. The fact that algorithms can play chess is irrelevant, playing chess is not an activity that humans play algorithmically - they learn to play it intuitively, using pattern recognition and a bit of analysis, not exhaustive analysis and a whole bunch

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Paradise Pete (33184)

      The argument made in that article that chess is somehow good for the goals of "STEM" makes me laugh out loud

      I have to agree with this. I was a successful player as a student; my high school team won the national championship, I won an individual state championship, and before this article I had no idea there was even anything called a "chess facilitator."
      Chess was not in any way a "gateway to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics." Other than the satisfaction and enjoyment of the chess itself

    • Surely you can't be serious? Learning how to operate under pressure, becoming comfortable with a crowd scrutinizing your play AND behavior, meeting people whose brains enjoy similar mental games/puzzles, how to lose gracefully; these are all very valuable skills. I was never a tournament chess player, so I am drawing parallels from a competitive card game (mtg), but I played enough to know my rough IDE. Growing up as an introverted type, high-level competitive tournament play taught me more about behaving e

      • by Skip1952 (122013)

        Surely you can't be serious? Learning how to operate under pressure, becoming comfortable with a crowd scrutinizing your play AND behavior, meeting people whose brains enjoy similar mental games/puzzles, how to lose gracefully; these are all very valuable skills.

        Learning to operate under pressure? Why not let everyone be a hockey goalie, not only do you get pressure and scrutiny but when you make a mistake a siren blares and a red light goes on. Did I mention all the people that cheer, or boo? Oh, and don't forget the handshake with the winning team at the end of the game!

        • If you are into that sure, any sort of 'sport' has some value. I think you have to discard sports or games at some point for more fruitful goals, but it is valuable for kids who don't necessarily care about the long-term goals and just want to interact in a competitive environment. Getting good at specifically chess though, teaches you how to study on your own. You can't get past a certain level without analyzing a lot of past games from very tedious books. It's all about creating good habits at a young age

        • by geekoid (135745)

          Because chess is cheaper? more easily accessible? doesn't encourage bulling? create a civilized event?
          Are we seriously at a point where on a nerd site, chess is being compared to hockey?
          WTF, has the world gone mad?
          Hockey has all the worse elements of society in it, Chess has all the best.

    • And it is just a boring simplistic game. Hell after a few months learning the basics it is basically just memorising every combination possible. Chess is for Autistics, forget about it and play something worth your time.
    • Yes, deity forbid that those children find fun in a competitive intellectual venture. The horror!

      Really, they should all be sitting down to Starcraft tournaments with doritos and mountain dew readily nearby.

      Actually, even better, ban both of those, and redirect any funding the useful things like the local sports/football club.

  • by buckfeta2014 (3700011) on Sunday July 13, 2014 @11:34PM (#47446363)
    The issue is with schools cutting extra-curriculum activities, because the teachers want to get paid, and the schools can't afford it. Fix that somehow, and you'll probably get all the coaches you need, not just for chess club, but for sports and the arts.
  • by xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) on Sunday July 13, 2014 @11:36PM (#47446371)

    I've had two kids now in youth chess and this article smacks of the "wrong direction" I think the youth chess movement is headed.

    The trends I saw included:
    #1) More PAID chess instructors. Er...for what? The best instruction...and players...are already online, with fully developed laddering, ranking, tutorials, etc.
    #2) More REMOTE tournaments. What is this...hockey now? This is a huge barrier to families (e.g., smart immigrants, kids with divorced parents) who can't afford to truck the two hours in each direction - and overnight (i.e., requiring a hotel) meets are on the horizon.
    #3) Life AFTER chess is discouraged. In my "gifted" experience, you learned chess in first or second grade, and could take down just about anyone in middle school, but then you moved on from games into programming, higher math, or something else with a lot of other people who outgrew chess as a daily or even weekly activity. However, "outgrowing chess" is no longer OK with this crowd...instead you're expected to keep playing until you ladder up or burn out - yikes.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      As a taxpayer, I support chess on tablets.
      1) No chess pieces to lose.
      2) Program can ensure chess rules are always followed
      3) school chess tournaments can be conducted via telephone/internet, avoiding unnecessary transportation. Seriously, there is a long tradition of chess by mail, or phone, and these are kids in public schools.
      4) all of which mean, less expensive adult labor is needed to make things work.

  • Could technology like RFID-tagged chess pieces

    Is this a tech-for-no-reason article?

    The article gives a long example where players need to figure out things like checkmate. That's the most trivial of problems, which players need to figure out just to complete the game. Plus, average children at the K-5 (outside of tournaments) have a house rule where capturing the enemy king is a checkmate, which is the same effect.

    An easy question if you are an avid chess player, but what if you are not?

    If you're at a tour

  • by Animats (122034) on Sunday July 13, 2014 @11:52PM (#47446437) Homepage

    Come on. The article [sas.com] is a joke. " A chess facilitator brain implant would be wired between perception and cognition. You would just look at the board and know if it is checkmate." Did the original poster not realize this?

    • by phizi0n (1237812)

      Come on.
      The article [sas.com] is a joke.
      " A chess facilitator brain implant would be wired between perception and cognition. You would just look at the board and know if it is checkmate." Did the original poster not realize this?

      It's more along the lines of astroturfing than a joke. The linked article is a blog post on a data analysis company's website. The author is basically dreaming up ways for his company to profit off a minor/nonexistent problem.

      • by RDW (41497)

        It's not a joke article or astroturfing. He's just using humorous examples of improbable technical solutions to the problem, when of course the real answer is to get more adults involved in helping the kids to learn chess (which is his real point). He's written elsewhere about a K12 chess tournament sponsored by his company:

        http://blogs.sas.com/content/s... [sas.com]

  • by quietwalker (969769) <pdughi@gmail.com> on Sunday July 13, 2014 @11:58PM (#47446459)

    Do we really need to promote chess playing to a group of imaginative, energetic children who have just barely grasped the concept of role-taking, and are only barely ready to understand - much less compete in - competitive or team sports? Did they do something to earn this sort of punishment? Are these sort of felons?

    Don't get me wrong; I was in a "Chess and Tactical Games Club" when I was in Highschool. We played warhammer 40k with minatures, star trek combat on a hex map that looked like a starscape, and recreated WW2 naval battles in the gym with wood blocks, marked ropes and protractors, played Risk and Axis & Allies. We even played a few economic simulator games.

    However, I can't remember playing a single game of chess. This is largely because playing a game where a turn took an hour and a half was more fun than playing chess, and that's coming from a highschool geek back when the term meant something.

    My guess is that there's only a perceived shortage of k-5 scholastic chess facilitators, rather, if the number is higher than 1, we probably have more than we ought.

    • by shobadobs (264600)

      Oh yes, how will a child barely ready for team sports ever be able to play a one-on-one board game?

      FFS, kids play on team sports at that age. Have you ever heard of tee-ball?

    • by aliquis (678370)

      Yeah, why bother with Chess?

      How does it matter really?

      I remember reading on BGG how someone brought Hive (http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/2655/hive) to some group of (children? I'm quite sure) chess players (possibly related to his or her own kids?) they tried it out and of course they wanted to play Hive rather than Chess (it was new for them) and he/her was told to not bring it any more.

      Even though it's not very different. Move (and in Hive case place) your different pieces around until you win.

    • Don't get me wrong; I was in a "Chess and Tactical Games Club" when I was in Highschool.

      Here's the question I want to ask.

      What about the schools WITHOUT chess clubs/teams or "tactical games clubs"? Yes, not everyone went to one of those schools with all those geek clubs like chess, rocketry, games, AV, computers.

    • Chess encourages short-sighted tactical thinking with no concern for the consequences. You aim to take a single position (capture the king), even if it destroys *everything* in the process. Every move is about maintaining the tactical position, which is a short-term goal.

      Go can be taught to four-year-old kids. It encourages abstract strategy across the larger plane: tactical battles are carried out based on their worth in the overall strategy. Do you enclose or run? Capture or let live? These make

      • by greg1104 (461138)

        There are two main types of chess games. In one, someone manages to checkmate while there are still a lot of pieces on the board. You seem to only be familiar with this type of game. It's possible to prioritize for that over holding onto pieces, with strategies like "gambits" taking that idea back to the opening move.

        But when both players are good enough that this doesn't happen, you get a drawn out type of game where very subtle position advantages allow picking off pawns, or exchanging a better piece f

        • There are two main types of chess games. In one, someone manages to checkmate while there are still a lot of pieces on the board. You seem to only be familiar with this type of game. It's possible to prioritize for that over holding onto pieces, with strategies like "gambits" taking that idea back to the opening move.

          Yes, this is how minor skirmishes in Go work. The difference is in the way your play comes out.

          In Chess, the capture of a piece or the loss of a piece means something. Being in a specific square at a specific time means something. You are trying to establish a tactical advantage for the moment, so that you can move further toward your tactical goal of capturing the king.

          In Go, fights work the same way. The sacrifice of a piece, or the capture of a piece, or of a group, or the solidification of a gr

    • by geekoid (135745)

      You think teaching chess is punishment?
      You are seriously stupid. Kids grab onto chess at a really early age. Not all of them will continue, but they enjoy the basic learning, and it's a cheap, and easy way to each them how to think.

      " I can't remember playing a single game of chess. "
      You're loss. It teach better long term straevy, tactice then any game you mentioned., and it has a way to progress, should you choose, in a measurable way.
      I've play all the game listed. Nothing is as pure for reasoning and strat

      • For a child between the ages of 5 to 10, yes, it's punishment. Especially in an age of tv on demand and nerf guns and xbox and legos and the whole world outside.

        It's not an "easy way to teach them how to think," it's a way to teach them how to think about chess, which has limited value.

        Chess also has very little to do with reasoning. At one level, the short-breadth min-max search for the next best would qualify, but since we're not great at that as humans, we fall to using pattern recognition gained throu

  • I learned the basics of playing chess in the fifth grade when the guidance counselor picked a club for me since I had zero interest in joining any of the school clubs. I didn't master the game until I got Sargon II [spacious-mind.com] for the Commodore 64. After playing a game everyday for two years straight, I was able to defeat the computer on the highest difficulty setting most of the time.

  • "[Chess] is certainly a pleasing and ingenious amusement, but it seems to have one defect, which is that it is possible to have too much knowledge of it, so that whoever would excel in the game must give a great deal of time to it, as I believe, and as much study as if he would learn some noble science or perform well anything of importance; and yet in the end, for all his pains, he only knows how to play a game. Thus, I think a very unusual thing happens in this, namely that mediocrity is more to be praise
    • by iluvcapra (782887)

      Careful, Richard Feynman once said something very similar about computer programming [goodreads.com]:

      Well, Mr. Frankel, who started this program, began to suffer from the computer disease that anybody who works with computers now knows about. It's a very serious disease and it interferes completely with the work. The trouble with computers is you *play* with them. They are so wonderful. You have these switches - if it's an even number you do this, if it's an odd number you do that - and pretty soon you can do more and more

    • HAHA, hoisted by your own petard.

      ProTip: Don't grab a random quote from wikipedia.
      I have a copy of it right here, and he says(Sir Friderick) : ..." the mean is more commendable then the excellence."
      Meaning one should learn it, but to be the best he views it is the waste of time of the local courtiers. It based on observation of the Sapinish courtiers.
      Later he goes on and talking about game besides chess(chestes) are there just for the common person to marvel at.

      You really should try to understand what the f

      • It's not from Wikipedia. We don't spend all of our time on that website, only you. Why are you all butthurt? What difference does it make? The point is valid, chess is a waste of time beyond learning the basics.
  • ... its more then sufficient for the referring of chess matches between children.

  • by DamienRBlack (1165691) on Monday July 14, 2014 @01:20AM (#47446741)

    I am a full-time chess coach for K-5 kids. I have over 200 students that I see every week. At first I though this article was going to address the very real demand for more skilled coaches in K-5 schools. Instead, the article is trying to push a software/hardware solution that would make it "easier" to adjudicate games and tournaments. This solution is addressing a problem that doesn't actually exist.

    Here is the problem they present as an example: an 'argument' between two students about whether a position is checkmate. The presented solution: a variety of software/hardware that will make it easier to 'referee' the position. This is ridiculous. When two students are having an argument, figuring out whether there is checkmate on the board is usually the easiest problem to solve. Getting the students to calm down and be good sports is the hard part.

    In addition, there is no shortage of adjudication at tournaments. One or two coaches can easily handle the problems of 300+ students in a tournament. We don't need legions of people equipped with apps to go watch children's games. To make the article even more irrelevant, most tournaments across the world are run with a "non-interference" rule. This means that the tournament staff cannot actually comment on whether a position is checkmate. It is up to the students to come to a decision on their own, agree and report. The coaches with let them report an incorrect result if that is what they agree on. It is part of the game. So the coach doesn't actually need to know whether the position is really checkmate.

    The only time an actual ruling needs to be passed is if the students can't come to an agreement. This is very rare and will usually only happen 1 in 2000 games or so. We don't need to RDIF tag all of our 16000+ tournament pieces just so that 1 in 2000 games someone who knows nothing about chess can make an accurate ruling. We'll just bring over an expert in those cases.

    A quick aside to those questioning the benefits of K-5 chess, it is hugely beneficial to students. Sure, it would be great if they spent the time they did on chess on other things, like algorithms or biology. However, most students don't get super worked up about algorithms. They aren't going to willingly spend 15 hours a week on algorithms. They will happily spend that time on chess however, and chess is teaching them a lot of the same skills. Critical thinking, carefulness, perseverance, recovering from mistakes, cause and effect, and on, and on.

    The most important skill that students learn is how much effort you have to put into something in order to really become an expert. Nothing else a child does in their K-12 years really teaches them that in order to be an expert, you need to spend years and years working on it. Chess is very good at driving this point home.

    Anyone saying things like "every minute playing chess would be better spent learning about algorithms, computer programming, or biology." has clearly never sat a kindergartener down and try to teach them algorithms. Every day. For a year. Teach them chess. They will grasp it. They will want to learn. It is fun. They will gain skills that you wouldn't be able to impart in other ways.

    But you don't need to take my word on it. The benefits of chess have been have been well studied. Scholastic chess is one of the few things that has been proven to consistently increase academic performance, collage success and future income.

    • Most inspired and insightful post I've read on Slashdot all year.

      Thank you for teaching children.
    • by mwvdlee (775178)

      The only time an actual ruling needs to be passed is if the students can't come to an agreement. This is very rare and will usually only happen 1 in 2000 games or so. We don't need to RDIF tag all of our 16000+ tournament pieces just so that 1 in 2000 games someone who knows nothing about chess can make an accurate ruling. We'll just bring over an expert in those cases.

      As an expert, what is the most difficult ruling you have ever had to make?
      I'm not a chess expert but I can't imagine any situation that would actually require an expert to resolve, as opposed to somebody who just read the rules and played a couple of games once.

      • by top_down (137496)

        Telling if a position is mate or not is easy.

        The more challenging situations usually arise because young children are often playing without a clock, don't have to write down their moves and don't have the skills to remember even a few moves back. This means there are situations where you have two highly emotional kids and a position on the board that cannot be reconstructed. Cheating, parents and time pressure may also be involved.
         

    • by Thanshin (1188877)

      I would like your opinon on the game of Go.

    • So are you saying that there is no shortage or anything, or that you need more people to stop the children from throttling each other when they lose?
      • by AK Marc (707885)
        At least it's not team sports, where the parents assault the coaches or referees when their children lose.
    • You should look into Go. Chess is a small, very limited game that teaches poor thinking.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      "like algorithms or biology"

      While important, neither of those teach deep thinking, and alternative outcomes.
      And, Chess teaches algorithms and how t apply them. Granted they are called maneuvers.

    • by Wargames (91725)

      Agreed. RFID'ing chess pieces, brain implants, insane! Why can't they simply learn the rules? It's not that complicated.

      I taught after school chess for several years after I was laid off after 9/11 and ensuing telecom crisis-debacle. Parents and teachers believed chess was good for the children and gave me the opportunity to share my expert knowledge. The per-hour pay was not half bad, based on number, but the number of hours per week was small. You never know who is going to be the next Magnus Carlsen

    • by LienRag (1787684)
      I stopped playing chess once I learned Go, but could you explain how there can be disagreement over a checkmate?
      If one player is able to make a legal move that prevents the checkmate, then it's note checkmate. Otherwise it is.

      And about "checkmate in x" if one player can't see it or disagree, you just play it.

      What could I be missing?
  • Anyone looking for chess resourses could do worse, than visiting my website. http://dollyknot.com/chess.html/ [dollyknot.com]
  • All I can say is there damn well better be gender equity in grade school chess, as these testosterone fueled second grade boys oppress and damage the psyches of the girls, leading to a critical lack of both STEM and Chess Playing females.
  • I could be one how does one do so?
  • This is really good news thanks for share !

"The only way for a reporter to look at a politician is down." -- H.L. Mencken

Working...