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Tips on Starting a Chess Club from Denton Creek

April 9, 2010

Greetings!  My name is Michelle Bauer and I have ambitiously filled the role as the CGA Denton Creek Elementary Representative for two years.  I have four children in CISD schools ranging from 16-8 years of age.  My oldest enjoys the challenge of playing (beating) his dad at chess on the floor of our bedroom every so often.   I myself have never played but seeing the smiles on their faces as they bond over chess started a spark in me. 

In November 2009, Dr. Alexey Root, UTD faculty member and former U.S. Women’s chess champion brought her expertise to the CGA with an afternoon of ideas on how to improve chess skills through creative thinking.  We had many Denton Creek kiddos attend this session and I knew this was the perfect time to take their interest to the next level.

I contacted Stacy Cates, DCE’s challenge teacher, to see who might be interested in leading.  She immediately considered Kyle Krober, a 3rd grade teacher in his first year at DCE.  He was excited about the opportunity to head up the 3rd-5th grade chess club, then word spread and Martha Brown, 2nd grade teacher said she would coordinate 2nd grade chess club, with needed parental support.

I e-mailed the school families through the PTO manger asking for donations of chess sets.  10+ sets were donated.  Both teachers spent December talking up the club and determining interest by speaking to individual classes and by January, both groups were set to start.

Chess club has been thriving for 3 months now, so I felt this was a good time to share what worked for us, in case there are others interested in starting chess clubs at their schools.  Following are notes from my chess club leaders’ interviews:

*Mr. Kyle Krober – K
*Mrs. Martha Brown – B

How many years have you taught?
K – 6
B – 4th year in 2nd grade at DCE

How many years taught in CISD?
K – 1
B – 10

Do you know how to play chess?
K – I know how to play but beyond that I’m no expert in strategy.
B – Just a little from when my boys were younger.  I recently downloaded an app on my phone to teach me how to play.

What spiked your interest in leading chess club?
K – Stacey Cates (challenge teacher) asked if I would be interested.
B – Student and parent interests

What level of player would you consider yourself?
K – Average
B – Novice

Have you ever led a chess club before?
K – No
B – No

What day and time does your club meet?
K – Mondays 3:15-4:15
B – Mondays 3:15–4:00

Does you club have a name?
K – No
B – 2nd Grade Chess Club

Do you attend the weekly meetings?
K – Yes
B – No, a parent volunteer supervises the students (some volunteers know how to play and some don’t, but we let parents know that our volunteer is there to strictly supervise, not teach the game to students.)

Number of members and breakdown of group?
K – about 25 4th and 5th graders, mostly 5th.  Next year, 3rd graders will be added to the 4th-5th grade club.  The student interest was overwhelming therefore currently 3rd graders play occasionally during recess and free time.
B – 13 2nd graders

Number of regular attendees?
K – same
B – all attend regularly

Number of boys vs. girl members.
K – a few more boys
B – 11 boys, 2 girls

Where does your chess club meet?
K – In my classroom
B –  In the library

Who attends chess club besides the students?
K – I am the supervising adult.
B – We have parents supervising the students as the 2nd grade teachers have after school tutoring and campus/district meetings to attend.

Where did you get your chess sets for use?
K – We use those donated by parents
B – Some students donated them and I brought the rest from home.

How much does a starter chess set cost?
K – Around $20
B – $10 for an inexpensive one

What is the update on a possible chess tournament with another elementary school?
K – We want to do one with Lakeside Elementary but dates and details need to be worked out.
B – Second grade chess club parents and students are very interested in participating.  Just waiting on an update of when and where.

Do you provide resources for the chess members to enter tournaments on their own?  
K – No
B – Most 7 and 8 year olds are novice players just learning the game and increasing their level of play at this age.    

Do you have website addresses for parents to look for tournament info in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area?
K – no

Do you have any other information of interest that parents and teachers might find helpful when setting up a chess club for their school, or if they would like a child to compete in tournaments?
K – Chessforkids.com
B – After receiving approval from our principal to set up a chess club, we sent out a letter to every second grader and asked that a permission slip be signed and returned.  We had to set up a facility request form with the district to reserve a room to play in each week as other after school activities occur on our campus.  We then set up a parent volunteer list from the students participating in the chess club.  We keep an attendance sheet, and permission slip forms with parent contact information in a binder for all parent volunteers to access each week.  This is kept in a basket along with the chess board games ready to be played.  As a side note, we play math games several days a week after our math lesson in our classrooms, and many of our 2nd grade students participate.  Not all students are able to attend the chess club due to parent work schedules, etc., so this gives an opportunity for all kiddos that are interested a chance to learn to play from other students.  Chess is a great strategic math game for evaluating positions on the chessboard.   

A friend of mine, Pauline Gray , starter of the chess club at Lakeside Elementary has a few suggestions of chess websites to browse. 
USAChess.com – Provides instructors for Lakeside’s chess club, offers a number of camps for kids as well.
– Dallaschess.com – The Dallas Chess Club.  They host monthly scholastic tournaments at their Richardson location and also have information and links to some of the bigger local tournaments.
USChess.org – This is the site to visit if you’re interested in obtaining a US Chess Federation ID number and chess rating.  Once you begin entering tournaments using your registered ID number, you are then eligible for ratings.  This site also contains large and national tournament information.

I hope this inspires you to start a chess club at your school.  If you have any other questions about our the chess clubs at our school, please contact me at michbauer@verizon.net.

One Comment leave one →
  1. gurjendersihe2012 permalink
    December 27, 2013 10:49 pm

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