Ilyumzhinov’s dreams come true: chess to become a compulsory subject in all schools

From 1 September, the number of Russian schools with compulsory chess lessons will increase. Experimental chess projects showed good results in several regions, and officials decided to introduce this subject in all educational institutions. According to the Ministry of Education, teaching programmes and textbooks have already been developed; chess teachers are trained in every region.


It is significant that Minister of Education Olga Vasilyeva declared the need to make chess lessons compulsory for elementary school students in 2017:

“I am convinced that chess should be taught as schools. It's difficult to argue with solid statistics. The performance indicators of children who play chess in school are 35–40% higher. This intellectual game develops a child’s mind. ” The minister then added that teaching chess in a primary school is already underway in the schools of Samara and Tyumen regions as well as in the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Area.
In the spring of this year, Olga Vasilyeva confirmed that the Ministry of Education is interested in the development of chess education programmes, and officials are making efforts so that “in the future, chess education would be available as extracurricular activities in all schools starting from the second grade”. In April 2019, there were 18,000 Russian schools teaching chess, which correspond to 48 percent of their total number. For example, chess is a compulsory lesson in every class in all primary schools of Ugra. From 1 September, there will be even more such schools in our country.
“Our final goal is for all schoolchildren to play chess from the first to the fourth grade. We are considering the possibility of the appearance of such a norm in the updated educational standards,” said Olga Vasilyeva during a speech at a meeting of the Federation Council.
It should be noted that the Chess in Schools programme is the favourite brainchild of the fourth President of FIDE. After Kirsan Ilyumzhinov was elected the first president of Kalmykia in 1993, he introduced chess as a separate subject in the local schools by his very first decree “On state support of chess”.
This was the beginning of the introduction of chess training throughout the country. Since then, this subject is obligatory in all schools and kindergartens of Kalmykia. Later, the Chess in Schools global programme appeared. In fact, this is the first step towards the implementation of Ilyumzhinov’s global world project “One Billion Playing Chess”.
Back in 2016, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov wrote a letter to Olga Vasilyeva, in which he suggested introducing compulsory chess lessons in all primary schools as a substitute for every third physical education lesson. This is exactly what they are doing in Moscow, Khanty-Mansiysk and other schools that participate in the Chess in School project. Ilyumzhinov explained that the goal of “chess education” is not raising grandmasters but an increase in academic performance in schools.

It is assumed that first-graders will teach chess for 33 hours, and from the second to the fourth grade the children will study for an hour more - 34 hours. That is, there is one lesson a week. There are no difficulties with the training of teachers. The Ministry of Education believes that the school curriculum for chess is simple, and any primary school teacher will be able to master it using the methodological manual.

The main thing that the introduction of a new discipline is aimed at is to reveal the child’s interest in the game. And whether he becomes a great grandmaster is not so important. After all, chess is all for the benefit, and the sooner you start to master them, the better: they develop analytical skills, logical thinking, memory and speed of reaction. They also teach the ability to concentrate and seek victory.