Short Updates on CEA Chess Programs Friday, Oct 16 2009 

Hello everyone,

It has been a while since I have been able to write an update on any of our current projects or plans.

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Bontang, East Kalimantan (Borneo) Indonesia

1) Currently I am in the midst of setting up the Chess club here at SMA YPK, a highschool in East Kalimantan, or Borneo.  There is a lot of excitement and my students (I’m also working as an English teacher here) have asked me when it will start.  Yesterday I had several students over my house to play chess.  I also taught a few the basics of XiangQi, or Chinese chess.  I plan to add XiangQi to the formal chess club later.

Kakemer, Western Kenya

2) The Kakemer Resource Center has officially opened.  Along with the largest library in Kakemer and a very successful computer training program (the first of its kind in the area), the CEA chess program that was started at the KR Center for primary and secondary students in the surrounding villages has been more than successful.  Many students are coming almost every day after their classes in the neighboring secondary school and are bringing their friends as well.  New boards for the resource center should be arriving with the help of the Global Literacy Project within the next few months, allowing more and more students to play.  There are picture of students from the KR Center playing below.

Malaba, Western Kenya

3) Students at the Isegeretoto Primary School in Malaba, Kenya are keeping the excitement of their first tournament alive.  From reports of Collette Young who works with the school, the chess club is as active as it was before CEA volunteers left it to be run by the school itself.  Beautiful new plaques have now replaced the temporary tournament trophies that are in pictures in previous posts on this blog.  Hopefully I will be able to post more pictures soon.

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Thank you,

Paul Chiariello

Arrival in Bontang, Borneo and Other Chess Sites Thursday, Oct 1 2009 

This past Saturday two other Chess for Education Abroad volunteers and myself set off for their sites throughout Indonesia.  We will be starting several chess clubs in east Kalimantan (Borneo), South Kalimantan, and West Java.  I will be working in Bontang, East Kalimantan setting up several Western Chess clubs as well as the CEA’s first pilot XiangQi, or Chinese Chess, clubs.

More updates will follow about our progress in the coming weeks.  And, hopefully, the other CEA volunteers will be able to post updates on their own progress as well.

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Thank you and Terimah Kasih

Paul Chiariello

Compiled Research: Chess and Education Sunday, Sep 20 2009 

The pieces presented in this post were taken from Dr. Robert Ferguson’s compilation “Chess in Education Research Summary.”

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“John Artise in Chess and Education states: “Visual stimuli tend to improve memory more than any other stimuli; . . . chess is definitely an excellent memory exerciser the effects of which are transferable to other subjects where memory is necessary.” The following studies offer some hard evidence to support the claims of Artise and others.

The Zaire study, Chess and Aptitudes, lead by Dr. Albert Frank at the Uni Protestant School (now Lisanga School) in Kisangani, Zaire, was conducted during the 1973-74 school year.

Frank wanted to find out whether the ability to learn chess is a function of a) spatial aptitude, b) perceptive speed, c) reasoning, d) creativity, or e) general intelligence. Secondly, Frank wondered whether learning chess can influence the development of abilities in one or more of the above five types. To what extent does chess playing contribute to the development of certain abilities? If it can be proven that it does, then the introduction of chess into the programs of secondary schools would be recommended.

The first hypothesis was confirmed. There was a significant correlation between the ability to play chess well, and spatial, numerical, administrative-directional, and paper work abilities. Other correlations obtained were all positive, but only the above were significantly so. This finding tends to show that ability in chess is not due to the presence in an individual of only one or two abilities but that a large number of aptitudes all work together in chess. Chess utilizes all the abilities of an individual.

The second hypothesis was confirmed for two aptitudes. It was found that learning chess had a positive influence on the development of both numerical and verbal aptitudes.

he Venezuela experiment, Learning to Think Project, tested whether chess can be used to develop intelligence of children as measured by the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children.

Both males and females showed an increase of intelligence quotient (IQ) after less than a year of studying chess in the systematic way adopted. Most students showed a significant gain after a minimum of 4.5 months. The general conclusion is that chess methodologically taught is an incentive system sufficient to accelerate the increase of IQ in elementary age children of both sexes at all socio-economic levels. It appears that this study also includes very interesting results regarding transfer of chess thinking to other areas of study. (FIDE Report, 1984, p. 74)

B.F. Skinner, an influential contemporary psychologist, wrote: “There is no doubt that this project in its total form will be considered as one of the greatest social experiments of this century” (Tudela, 1987). Because of the success of the study, the chess program was greatly expanded. Starting with the 1988-89 school year, chess lessons were conducted in all of Venezuela’s schools (Linder, 1990, p. 165). Chess is now part of the curricula at thousands of schools in nearly 30 countries around the world (Linder, p. 164).

Dianne Horgan has conducted several studies using chess as the independent variable. In “Chess as a Way to Teach Thinking,” Horgan (1987) used a sample of 24 elementary children (grades 1 through 6) and 35 junior high and high school students. Grade and skill rating were correlated (r=.48). She found elementary players were among the top ranked players and concluded that children could perform a highly complex cognitive task as well as most adults.

Horgan found that while adults progress to expertise from a focus on details to a more global focus, children seem to begin with a more global, intuitive emphasis. She deduced: “This may be a more efficient route to expertise as evidenced by the ability of preformal operational children to learn chess well enough to compete successfully with adults” (Horgan, p. 10). She notes that young children can be taught to think clearly and that learning these skills early in life can greatly benefit later intellectual development. Former U.S. Secretary of Education Terrell Bell agrees. In his book Your Child’s Intellect, Bell encourages some knowledge of chess as a way to develop a preschooler’s intellect and academic readiness (Bell, 1982, pp. 178-179).”

A Few More Pics from Uganda and Kenya Wednesday, Sep 9 2009 

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

A Few Pics from our Programs in Uganda and Kenya Sunday, Sep 6 2009 

Last summer we set up three pilot programs in Gulu, Northern Uganda in an area recently torn apart by a 20 year civil war  and Malaba and Kakemer, Western Kenya which is the lowest scoring educational disctrict in the country.  Currently we are setting up more programs in Borneo, Indonesia and elsewhere on the archipeligo.

Playing a few games at the Restore Academy in Gulu, Uganda

Playing a few games at the Restore Academy in Gulu, Uganda

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To the left – you can see myself (the only mzungu in the picture) and a bunch of the other kids at the Restore Academy.   This was our first pilot program.  For details about all three of these programs you can check out my personal blog: paulchiari.wordpress.com.

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Teacher and students getting into the game at Isegeretoto Primary in Kenya

Teacher and students getting into the game at Isegeretoto Primary in Kenya

To the left – the kids at Isegeretoto Primary school in Malaba, western kenya learned a lot quicker than their teachers.  It was a beautiful thing to see the pasison and interest that these little kids had for the game.  With very few other intellectually stimulating activities outside of the rote learning of the classroom, these kids couldn’t get enough.
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Two high school girls playing at the Kakemer Resource Center in Kenya

Two high school girls playing at the Kakemer Resource Center in Kenya

At the Kakemer Resource Center in rural           western Kenya I was finally able to get the girls as interested in     Chess as the guys.  With the first two programs there seemed to be the notion that chess was a guys game and a lot of the girls stepped aside (though in both places there were a few female stars).  However, at the KRC the girls were just as aggressive and interested.  A lot were even better than most of the guys.  It was a beautiful thing.

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Thanks,

Paul Chiariello

Arrival to Indonesia Friday, Sep 4 2009 

Hello all,

I just arrived in Indonesia less than a week ago.  Spent some time in Jakarta for Fulbright orientation and will be taking three weeks of relatively intense language courses in Bahasa Indonesian.  After that i’ll be heading straight for Bontang to the site where I will be teaching English and setting up several CEA programs.

I’m going to be spending 9 months in Bontang inside Kutai National Park in Borneo, Indonesia.  I hope to set up several western chess programs as well as the CEA’s first Xiangqi (chinese or elephant chess) and Go clubs.  Hopefully these programs will be as great of successes as we had in Kenya and Northern Uganda.

I probably won’t be writing too much over the next few weeks but hope to write as often as i can while in borneo working with the chess clubs.

Thank you,

Paul Chiariello

What Chess for Education Abroad, Inc. is All About Tuesday, Aug 11 2009 

Hello everyone, some people reading this may have read part of the other, general blog where i wrote while in Uganda and Kenya this past summer where discussed the CEA and the projects I was working on there.  Now that the CEA has taken off so well i decided to devote a blog to follow its progress and programs.

The idea for Chess for Education Abroad, Inc.  (CEA) came after realizing how well a few little ideas fit together that could continue to build on the success of the chess club I started at the Restore Academy in Gulu, Northern Uganda.

The basic idea for the CEA is that we make connections between chess clubs and other organizations in the US and develop and nuture chess clubs abroad in rural and disadvantaged schools in developing economies.

US chess clubs will partner with overseas schools to provide chess supplies, hirer tutors and give small scholarships for tournaments. Each of these are relatively small sums. Chess supplies will cost less than $30 (though more with books) and maybe that again to ship them overseas (for now we have volunteer contacts to bring supplies to most locations). In schools where we could not find volunteers, tutors would only cost 10-20 dollars a month.  Lastly, scholarships would not only help with student fees to (which for many children in the areas where we work are hard often to meet) but also encourage the clubs and tournaments.   Prizes would  be small by US standards but would cover 20/15/10% of tuition for 1st/2nd/3rd places, relatively.

We envision chess clubs holding tournaments with a portion of the entry fee going to the CEA clubs overseas.  Our goal is to help both the supporting US club members expanding their global perspective as well as develop quality chess clubs in areas where rote memorization and resourceless classes are what “education” means.  Currently interactive communication between clubs in the US and clubs overseas will be limited because of limited web access in these overseas rural areas.  We expect this to start to change soon as the internet access expands.

All of the CEA staff is made of volunteers who donate themselves to the organization and its programs.  We will be partnering with educational organizations abroad to continue to expand our contacts. Already, organizations like the Global Literacy Project and Invisible Children, though informally, have expressed a strong interest and work closely with several dozen schools in Uganda, Kenya and South Africa.

I have already set up the second and third pilot programs in Kakemer and Malaba in Western Kenya at the Kakemer Resource Center and the Isegeretoto Primary School. The 1st pilot program in Uganda was at a secondary school, while both of these programs involve only or a mix of primary students.  So far each of the programs have been beyond expectation successes.

I am also planning on setting up 3-5 more pilot programs in Indonesia on my Fulbright grant starting in August.  And I would like to introduce XianQi, or Chinese Chess, to one school while in Indonesia as well.

After the CEA is settled, i.e. all pilot programs are running well, we have a stable support base in the US from partnering clubs, all incorporation documents have been finalized and we have worked out a set curriculum, the non-profit will start setting up chess programs vicariously. Hopefully this goal will be achieved around a year from this post in 2010.

* *  If you would like to help and know of a possible chess club in the states that may be willing to hold such tournaments, please leave a comment with details. * **

Thank you for reading,

Paul Chiariello