Friday, August 11, 2006

A letter on the Chess in School program

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

In an announcement last month, President Arroyo approved, in principle, the implementation of Chess in Schools as proposed by National Chess Federation President Prospero Pichay. I had an e-mail feedback from the US, which I am quoting here:

Dear Mr. Pestano:

I happened across your article about school chess in the Philippines. How wonderful that chess may become a standard subject in the school curriculum! Given your support of chess for young people, I thought you might be interested to learn about the unique program we created some years ago to help schools introduce chess to their students—the Think Like A King School Chess Software System. Think Like A King has been named the Official Scholastic Software of the United States Chess Federation, and our unique system is used by more than 1,300 schools across the United States and in a number of other countries.

When we began working with our own children’s club in the Chicago area in the mid ’90s, we looked for tools already on the market that could help run the club. While we found a number of software products that taught chess by allowing the user to play against the computer, we did not find anything suitable for a school setting – so we created some simple tools ourselves – focusing on using chess to help kids learn how to think. One tool (Chess Club Manager) helped manage the club (by keeping a club roster with student demographics; tracking student game performance and creating a club ladder; printing award certificates, etc.) We also developed a basic interactive tutorial, First Lessons in Chess, to teach kids the fundamentals of the game and reinforce the once-a-week lessons that we provided when the club met.

The tools were so successful in our own club – and we realized how difficult it could be to find a chess expert to come into the schools to teach kids – that we made the decision to market our program to other schools. We also sought help from a chess teacher who had tremendous success in the New York City Public Schools, working with at-risk students in a high poverty area. That individual, David MacEnulty, became the author of our six Chess Workouts interactive tutorials (along with GM Miron Sher in some of the more advanced volumes) – and his work inspired a recent made-for-TV movie called the Knights of the South Bronx.

Below is some additional information about Think Like A King. I hope you will visit our Web site at – and will contact us if you believe our software system would be useful in the expansion of school chess in the Philippines. We look forward to hearing from you.


Leslie B. Lipschhultz

I hope that President Arroyo, Representative Pichay and the top officials of the Dep. Of Education will read this article and take action so the Chess in Schools program can start by next the school year.

Opascor-Philexport. The well-oiled chess machinery of the Oriental Port and Allied Services Corporation (Opascor) rolled over the newly formed chess team of Philexport in their recently concluded dual meet last Aug. 5 at the Gaisano Bowlingplex in Banilad, by an aggregate team score of 21.5 to 14.5 .

Opascor president Tom Riveral announced during the awarding ceremonies that he will sponsor similar tournaments every three months in order to maintain the sharpness of the players and chess aficionados.

Executive director Fred Escalona promised that the Philexport Chess Team will give a better account of themselves in future tournaments. A prize pot of P42,000 was also put up by Opascor for the just-concluded dual meet.

No comments: