Nikita Kim: "Ilyumzhinov became the ideologist of the programme "Chess in schools"

More and more often, Moscow parents hear about new chess sections in schools. A comprehensive programme "Chess in schools" has been carried out in Moscow and few other regions since 2015.

The First Vice-President of the Moscow Chess Federation Nikita Kim, the head of the project "Chess in schools" told to m24.ru correspondent about the time when students start to sit at the chess boards in each school, how the lessons will be going and whether they would be paid.

- Where did the idea to conduct chess lessons in general education schools come from?
The ideologist of the programme was the President of the International Chess Federation (FIDE) Kirsan Ilyumzhinov. He first tested it in Kalmykia when he was the head of the region. He collected school principals and asked them to think about voluntarily introducing chess lessons.
Relatively speaking, 10 per cent of schools have tried it. A year passed and it became clear that academic performance had improved there. The number of wrongdoings had sharply gone down. Schools became more trouble-free. Others looked at this and decided to do it. And so it went.
This has been tested not only in Russia but also in other countries many times. For example, in Armenia and Turkey the chess education is obligatory.
- What is the peculiarity of the "Chess in Schools" programme?
Unlike other programmes for teaching chess, this one is not aimed at raising professional grandmasters. The programme is designed for primary schools – from 1 to 4 grades. The project helps develop pupils' thinking skills, strategic planning skills and generally enhances the intellect.
We want chess to be the every third lesson of physical education. Now schools have the maximum autonomy, and they can choose the kind of sport that they would like as the every third lesson of physical education.
- Does the programme work in the whole city or in individual schools?
From September 1, chess will actually be introduced in 250 out of 750 Moscow schools. "Chess in schools" appeared as a trial version in Moscow in September 2015. Then 20 schools joined us. In October 2016, we were invited to a meeting in the Department of Education, where we offered other schools to join us. We were surprised to find out that every third school wanted to participate in the programme in Moscow.
Now we are purchasing the necessary equipment: chess boards and clocks. Textbooks are being bought and teachers are being retrained. The funds were allocated by the Department of Education of Moscow.
- How will chess lessons be taught?
The main form of the lesson is the dialogue between a teacher and a student. Specifically for teachers, the "Chess in Schools" Foundation together with the publishing house "Prosveshcheniye" developed a teaching and methodological kit, which included textbook, workbook, teacher's manual and a curriculum.
Special characters Sasha and Katya were created. These characters will help the child to learn the subject. According to the textbook and workbook they ask it questions. Thus, they help the child to learn some basis and regularities.
- Will the elementary school teachers teach chess to children?
Basically, it would be the primary school teachers and physical education teachers. It is important for us that it should be a teacher who knows how to communicate with children and how to teach a lesson. If Vasya beats Petya and Petya gets upset, a teacher of the primary class should have more competence to calm him down rather than, conditionally speaking, the first sport grade chess player. There are two different approaches to teaching chess. The first one is to invite chess professionals. And the second much more troublesome one is the retraining of teachers. We decided on the people who understand children better than chess.
- How did the teachers perceive the training course? Perhaps not everyone could play chess?
Initially, it frightened them. It seems that chess is something very difficult. But judging by the primary reaction, the most were very satisfied. Once you understand the rules of the game and know the movement of the pieces, you get interested and the game becomes very exciting. The fourth sequence of courses for teachers of Moscow schools took place on March 18-19. About 600 teachers have passed courses in just two months.
- And how will students be assessed in chess lessons?
We are now thinking about the system of tests. This does not discourage the children from learning because getting poor marks for chess and be frustrated because of this is unusual. The main thing for children is to enjoy the game.
- Would there be open classes and master classes with the experienced chess players in schools?
On March 4, the final of the "White Rook" tournament took place in the Museum of the Great Patriotic War on Poklonnaya Gora. The ex-champion of the world in classical chess, the world champion in blitz Sergey Karjakin visited us. In the same way, we plan to invite famous grandmasters to tournaments, large forums and master classes, who will inspire children and teachers by their experience.
- Why are chess tournaments needed? Will ordinary lessons be not enough?
Let's not forget that chess is not something complicated, boring and incomprehensible. Above all, it is an exciting game with a competitive component – the confrontation of the intellects. How was chess invented? This is a strategic military game, in which your task is to win and prove that you play better than your opponent. If you remove tournaments from chess then its huge part would be lost.
- Will children get sport grades in chess at the end of the tournament?
Of course. They will get the Moscow ratings and sport grades in chess. The winners of the Moscow stage of the "White Rook" will go to compete at the All-Russian stage. It will be held in Dagomys in June.
- What will happen to those pupils who show themselves well and are interested in chess?
We work not only with the Education Department but also with the Department of Sport and Tourism of Moscow. Within the framework of the project, we try to provide children with the opportunity to learn some basics of the game and get chess skills and system thinking. Further on, certainly there will appear outstanding talents, who will go further. That’s our goal.
- Do you see the danger of fraud by using computer hints?
This is a common problem of chess. When computer began to beat a man, it became clear that there will be some 0.001 per cent of players who will try to take advantage of this. There were cases when they caught grandmasters, who hid phones or implanted earphones in the ear at some tournaments. But in general, it is stupid to break the law. It is easy to catch perpetrators. Their explanations are so naive and childish that you immediately understand whether the person was using hints or not.
In addition, a teacher has appropriate competencies. Teachers know how to make sure that children will not use hints during examinations. As we understand, there are more honest people than dishonest ones. Do not forget that this is a game. And it is not very interesting for anyone to win, if this will not happens due to his mind and intellect.
- Would you like chess to become an obligatory subject?
Yes, our federation would like all children in the country to study chess in primary schools. Personally, I believe that the more children play chess, the more people on Earth will start to think first and then do. This is one of the basic postulates in chess.
They will become adults and I would like people to get used to fighting over a chessboard instead of real life. They do not need to become professionals and grandmasters. Although some of them, maybe, will become the world champions. But let all children know that there is such a wonderful game and love it. And it's impossible not to love it.