When it’s time for “big lunch” in Blarney Street CBS, you might expect the boys to make a mad dash outside to play chase or football. Instead, many make a move in a different way: their lunchtime sport of choice is chess.
The strategic board game has been a feature at this Cork primary school for years, a tradition principal Billy Lynch brought with him from his primary school days.
At a time when screens are blamed for shortening children’s attention spans, Lynch finds chess is luring pupils away from their phone screens and helping to foster crucial skills we once took for granted.
“It’s quite social, during lunch they chat away while they are playing,” says Lynch.
He has also noticed how chess is helping his students develop emotional resilience. “You bare your soul when you are playing chess because it’s all about you – you can’t blame the equipment,” says Lynch, “Chess teaches you how to lose.”
But it is the impact of the strategic game on students’ concentration that really stands out.
“In this day and age, when concentration levels are not what they were previously thought to be, you can see them thinking two or three moves ahead.”
Up and down the country, other schools are embracing chess too and seeing the benefits among schoolchildren.
April Cronin, a retired primary school principal and former Irish chess champion, runs chess workshops for teachers in Dublin.
She has noticed social awkwardness becoming more prevalent in her chess clubs of late. It prompted her to teach basic social interactions during her chess lessons. “The first thing I taught them was how to actually shake somebody’s hand and look them in the eye. It was extraordinary how many children didn’t know how to do that,” she says.
Hampshire Junior Chess Association is delighted to announce the appointment of Ollie Blacklock as our Under 9 Team Manager.
Ollie has kindly penned his chess biography as an introduction :
Discovering there was no junior chess club within 25 miles for my son to attend, I decided to set up a club at his school – the New Forest Small School – in Lyndhurst in 2015.
Following visits to three junior chess schools in Kazakhstan, and a discussion with Elyena Gaichenya of the “Champion” club in Almaty, I decided to start an independent junior club – the New Forest Chess Club – based in Lymington in 2017. This club has been very successful and has over 20 members and a waiting list, and some of the strongest junior players in the county.
I joined the Southampton Chess Club in 2017, and am in the process of registering as an ECF accredited coach. I give private chess tuition, and when I’m not doing chess, I’m being a design engineer, sailing, or playing music.
We wish Ollie all the best in his new role and look forward to his contributions to the fortunes and success of Hampshire Junior Chess Association.
Hampshire Junior Chess Association is the principal coordinator and organiser of chess for children and young people who are eighteen years old or under and live or attend school in Hampshire.
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