St Peter's Chess Club

(The lessons are held every Tuesday from 4:15 to 5:15pm at St Peter’s, Acton Green)

We started our chess club in October 2021. I have always been passionate about chess and wanted to start a chess club at St Peter’s, and finally did it with 17 children age 7+ who signed up enthusiastically for the club and come every Tuesday to play and learn more about this amazing game of strategy and memory. 

It reminds me of the time when I was in Buenos Aires, and asked two grandmasters to help me set up a chess club in the parish of Madre de los Emigrantes. At that time, I wanted to give children the opportunity to build a mindset that could help them when grown-ups to develop new skills and get them out of the street.

Now I have set a new challenge: to help these children to learn how to focus, how to develop a strategic mindset while having fun and playing this amazing game. With the help of Nikan, a young and talented architect who is also very passionate about chess, we teach the children how to learn the game of chess from scratch.  

As matter of fact, I think chess can serve as an extremely powerful education tool. Some chess experts say that there are some basic facts about chess and the benefits of learning how to play chess:

1. Logic

There is a misconception that chess players double as math geniuses. A chess player won’t necessarily be able to calculate triple integrals. However, chess does instil the broader prowess to compute logically. It is closer to the logical sequences encountered in Boolean or predicate logic.

2. Attention to details

Another misconception is that chess players have to see at least 10 moves ahead at any given time. In fact, you only need to see a few moves ahead.

The key is exercising precise judgment to evaluate the end of each variation.

At each juncture during a game, the players have to consider possible replies, threats, and counter-threats.

The process of always being on the lookout for opportunities and pitfalls extends to scrupulous attention to detail off the board.

3. Discipline

Chess reinforces discipline on and off the board. A child learning chess for the first time may gain a few quick wins with the fool’s mate.

Over time, he or she will realise that the trick doesn’t work against experienced players. Instead, chess requires a lot of patience to win.

From a young age, chess players are conditioned to build stamina for prolonged thought. This is a priceless skill that later translates into stamina for taking standardized tests or drawn-out school examinations.

4. Explaining difficult concepts

A major part of the game is analysing with other players. Thus, children who are exposed to chess early on also pick up its language. Kibitzing moves (e.g. “why not Bxf6?” “No, no, your rook is hanging.”) is second-nature to players, but sounds like a foreign tongue to outside observers.

Chess is also one of the few games in which children can go head-to-head with adults twice their size and quintuple their age. Conversing with adults about chess on the same level instils sophistication and maturity in kids.

5. Collaboration

Chess is often portrayed as an isolationist game. It may be true during the game itself, but it is not at all the case during the learning process.

The corollary to conversing about chess is that it builds collaboration and respect.

When children learn chess in a group setting, they can analyse their games together and yell out sudden ideas in blitz games for hours. It is also rare for players to learn new ideas completely on their own. Weaknesses are best assessed with input from a coach or training partner. Since an argument in chess can be readily assessed as working or not, children are taught to back up their suggestions with concrete evidence. This is a useful skill that contributes to productive discussions.

Finally I have to admit that I thoroughly enjoy playing with them and watching them play while their eager minds are fast learning how to play and train their memory with patterns and some good strategy. 

Our future plan is to open our chess club to more children living in our Local Community and have more two levels of classes: beginners and advanced. It would be amazing if adult chess players who live locally would join us as volunteers and play with our children: they love to play with adults! 

To get involved please, email stpetersactongreen@gmail.com or call. 020 8994 4281. 

 

Fabrizio Pesce, Chess teacher

West London Chess Tournament - July 2022

Theo and Massimo with their certificate of participation

Our Young chess players won 3 out of 6 games! Well done!

West London Chess Tournament

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Friendly Match  with the Belmont Primary School - July 2022