Play Together, Have Fun Together – Part 2

Gemeinsam spielen

We recently talked to one of our partners from Schachclub Vaterstetten-Grasbrunn and co-organizer of the Chessimo Cups. An interesting conversation about his love for chess, the game’s benefits for young people and an unusual concept for tournaments, part two:

Could you elaborate on your concept of competitions for amateurs and youths?

First of all, it it probably important to mention that we capped the DWZ (German ELO) at 1500, because players who are better than that have plenty of opportunities to compete in events. It was important to us to focus on amateur chess in the broadest sense, such as tournaments where children play adults and where people can compete, even though they might only have discovered chess late in life. So the motto of the Chessimo Cups is: play chess together, have fun together.

Our concept, initially developed by Dr. Konrad Müller, consists of two parts: the youths championship goes up to age eleven and a DWZ of 1000. This limit ensures that the competing children play at a similar level and have a real chance of winning – which makes them significantly more motivated! The second approach is an amateur cup and involves a system with groups of four, meaning four players at a single table, who play each other. These groups are organized in a similar manner to ensure equal opportunity and prevent matches from already being decided before they have even begun.

Another aspect that’s special about this: all of the games are played in a single day. Time-wise, it does not only ease the load on parents, but also provides the players with the opportunity to play multiple matches in a day – that’s quite different from other tournaments.

In the end, how did you come to partner up with Chessimo?

That’s because I’ve had a lot of positive experiences with Chessimo. After downloading the app in spring 2015 I came to an agreement with my daughter while we were on vacation: “for every minute that you play chess on Chessimo, you get to watch a minute of Minecraft Let’s Play videos” – which was a big deal to her at the time (laughs). The result: 90 minutes of practice time each day and more than a 1000 completed problems. When we got back home, she beat two of our top boys – which right away got people to question me about the contents of her breakfast.

I think repetition-based system that Chessimo is built on is ideal. The point being: if you have learned mate in one, the mate in two is going to involve the previously learned mate in one. I am convinced that learning through repetition is an ability that is taught less or even actively unlearned in elementary school nowadays, even though children still need it. Chessimo helps them acquire this skill while having fun at the same time!

If you look for chess apps, you‘ll mostly find apps that are only suited for either play or analysis. If you do manage to find an app to practice with, it’s often going to be targeted at a very narrow audience. Chessimo is not only suited for children or beginners, but also for experienced players, thanks to the different levels of difficulty. All of these positive aspects lead me to try and establish a partnership with Chessimo and thereby link two parts that really haven’t been linked too much in chess: online and offline.

…which we at Chessimo are very happy about, of course. Thank you very much for the conversation, Mr. Schmitt!

Play Together, Have Fun Together – Part 1

Matthias Schmitt

We recently talked to one of our partners from Schachclub Vaterstetten-Grasbrunn and co-organizer of the Chessimo Chess Cups. An interesting conversation about his love for chess, the game’s benefits for young people and an unusual concept for tournaments, part one:

Mr. Schmitt, to start off with, a question that is almost obligatory: how did you come to play chess?

I’ve got to admit that I really was a late bloomer in that regard. Even though I had already been curious as a child and  had tried to teach myself to play chess with a manual from a collection of board games, I had failed in this endeavor and subsequently lost interest. When my daughter discovered her own love for chess five years ago, she kept improving her skills at a local community college (in a class that was taught by a member of the Vaterstetten-Grasbrunn chess club, by the way) and then pushed me to get back into it. We spent a lot of time together during that period and I turned from an eager player into a huge fan of the game. That is mostly due to the remarkable and positive developments that can be seen in children who play chess – not just for school, but for life in general.

The crucial effect that I have noticed not just with my daughter, but other children as well, is that their level of concentration in school is much higher. Thanks to this concentration, they absorb the subject matter immediately and can cut the time needed for homework in half. More time for more pleasurable things is an added bonus, of course. I can tell you about children whose performance in school became much better when they started playing chess. This was also confirmed by a study that was conducted at Trier-Olewig elementary school.

What other positive impacts can be seen in children and youths who play chess?

Longer games improve the ability to concentrate as well. They teach children how to focus on one thing for hours on end. Self-esteem also plays a big role, especially for the girls. What could possibly be better at this age than beating the boys? (laughs)

The positive social aspect that players solidify by taking part in classes or tournaments should not be ignored either. Children play against adults with the same skill-level in our club and that teaches them how to get along with people of all ages and heritage. Competing in events like the Bavarian Championship, team competitions or a chess summer camp builds a strong sense of community and positive relationships. That’s something that many people have lost sight of: chess is often a team sport!

Does the Vaterstetten-Grasbrunn chess club specifically foster children and youths?

Exactly! That’s why our club is one of the few to have a paid volunteer who teaches chess in local schools. The costs are completely covered by the club, since we’re convinced that anyone who’s interested in the game should have the chance to join a workshop.

That’s also why children can join our club for only 9€ per year. We thereby make sure that anybody can afford a membership, no matter their financial background. That fee does not only cover regular events and training, but we also pay their starting fee for external competitions.