Me teaching the basics at Isegeretoto Primary

Me teaching the basics at Isegeretoto Primary

At the Isegeretoto Primary School in Malaba, Kenya I was able for the first time to work with primary, or elementary, school children.  It was also the first time where i had to work with 30-40+ students at once.  The board I’m working with was very helpful.  I was able to draw simple illustrations of each of the pieces and how they moved.  In the center you can also see the “Rules of Checkmate.”  These are five simple rules that slowly evolved to help explain wht check means, the need to escape, how to escape, and what happens if you can’t, i.e. checkmate.  FYI: pawns are very difficult to explain!

Bird's Eye View: Collaborative Play

Bird's Eye View: Collaborative Play

The large number of kids also worked to my advantage in some ways as they would play in teams.  Their separate chunks of knowledge concerning the rules balanced out so that they made, as a whole, fewer mistakes.  They were also able to refer to the board in arguments about the rules, bishops and rooks were often confused.

Copying the basic rules of Checkmate and Movement

Copying the basic rules of Checkmate and Movement

Eventually I came up with a more precise set of rules for checkmate that the students could understand without any other background knowledge of chess.  For example using the word “eat” and other synonyms instead of “capture.”  Above is a secondary, or high school, student at the Kakemer Resource Center in Western Kenya copying his own set of the rules for the movements of the pieces and the rules of checkmate from another student as he watches some of his friends play.

Pointing out good moves and other pointers at the Restore Academy

Pointing out good moves and other pointers at the Restore Academy

The Restore Academy was the CEA’s first  pilot program.  Northern Uganda, especially Gulu, was ravaged for 20 years by a civil war which only subsided (but not ended) two years ago.  Many of these students didnt have a chance to go to school for long periods of time throughout their lives and had never even heard of chess before.  However, they picked it up quickly and with a passion.  Here I’m pointing out to day old players how to think ahead a few moves and watch out for some obvious attacks.

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hopefully i’ll publish more photos and media from the CEA’s programs in Uganda and Kenya before we start our new initiatives in Indonesia!

Thanks for reading,

Paul Chiariello

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