ECU EDU at the Chess, Education and Health Conference in Menorca (2024)

By | March 28, 2024

Jose Francisco Suarez Roa, the Director of the Chess, Education and Health Conference in Menorca has hosted an important event promoting Chess in Education in an amazing location. The ECU Education Commission was represented by Jose Francisco Suarez Roa, John Foley, Brigitta Peszleg, Jesper Hall and Alessandro Dominici. Thank you Pep!

See ECU EDU presentation summaries below:

Jesper Hall

Vision for CiE in Europe

The ECU Education Commission has formulated a comprehensive strategy spanning the years 2023 to 2026, aimed at establishing a robust Chess in Education Framework. Central to this strategy is the development of a University-level course tailored for teachers, designed to confer ECT S points upon completion. This course will provide educators with the necessary knowledge and skills to effectively integrate chess into their pedagogical practices.

In addition to the course the the Commission produced a comprehensive instructional package for teachers. This material encompasses a variety of resources including manuals, lesson plans, PowerPoint Presentations, workbooks, and a diverse array of exercises. These resources will equip teachers with the tools needed to facilitate engaging and impactful chess instructions in educational settings.

The starting ground for this initiative is Kosovo, where a six-year project is underway to integrate chess into the curriculum of all schools aligning closely with the ECU Education Commission’s vision.

John Foley

Teaching games to maximize engagement

We must not let the competitive model dominate chess in schools. This leads to children dropping out early from an important area of learning. The problem is that chess is led by chess players who are obsessed by chess, not by education. Most lack any insight into game pedagogy and only focus on those children with chess potential as if school is a junior pipeline. Schools should switch from chess to strategy games which regular teachers can learn easily.

A variety of simple strategy games can be played on a chess board such as Fox and Hounds, Draughts and Halma as well as chess minigames. These games have real educational value regarding thinking skills. We can give children a choice of the games they play and encourage learning new games. We should avoid harsh competition. Soft competition means stripping away the individual celebrations of victory in favour of recognising children for participation, effort and good behaviour. Strategy games should be linked to the school curriculum. There are obvious overlaps in areas such as mathematics, geometry and logic. However, all the school subjects can have a game element. To implement strategy games, schools need only supplement the chess equipment with other game pieces including draughts, coloured counters, numbered counters, halma pieces etc. 

Alessandro Dominici

Good educational chess practices to disseminate in schools: The metaphor of educational chess

Two projects based on the educational use of chess in schools, implemented in the design and general coordination by Alfiere Bianco Company, in different areas and with a total funding of € 2,500,000.

SME: it is a social project, involving 10.000 pupils over four years, in 14 regions in Italy (2020/2024) called “Scacchi Metafora Educativa” (Chess Educational Metaphor), also involving pupils’ families, teachers and local authorities, which provided a significant outcome on the increase of logical-mathematical skills in primary school pupils thanks to the CASTLE® method, through an experimental research lasting three years, thanks to a fund launched by the Italian Council of Ministers.

CGS: Chess a Game to be Spread in Schools, is a project with ECU as a partner, which was developed on the idea of training school teachers on the pedagogical use of the game of chess, with the ambitious goal of providing training from school teachers to new colleagues. This project also achieved its promised objectives. Funded by the Erasmus + program, it was able to test the effectiveness of Peer to Peer training by satisfactorily involving 270 teachers in Italy, Spain and Sweden during three successive phases.

Fran Otero

AI in the new Caissa platform

Pep Suarez and Fran Otero have created ChessForEdu and introduced us to Caissa, the new version of the mini-games platform designed for education. This version, in addition to numerous visual improvements, features enhanced student reports generated with the assistance of OpenAI, as well as the possibility for teachers to play games against a bot before using them in class. The main engineer of ChessForEdu has also explained how they implemented ideas from Claude Shannon in 1945. These ideas were utilized to create a universal mini-games engine, which, through the minimax algorithm, can adjust the parameters of the value function in each mini-game to achieve an “interesting” performance in each of them.

This implementation opens up the possibility of enabling automated gameplay for students, by weighting the difficulty of the machine through the constraint of the optimal solution search time.