Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Chess Matters

When someone in Detroit recently tried to eviscerate the school district’s chess funding—slashing it from $80,000 to $4,000—parents fought back, and most of the money was restored. Good for them. Now, in an editorial, the Detroit Free Press stands with parents, pointing out that chess isn’t some frivolous luxury to be unceremoniously canned the moment the budget gets tight. Money quote:

“In the array of critical issues confronting the Detroit Public Schools, the survival of competitive chess for students may seem trivial. It's not. Chess sharpens critical thinking and analytical skills, and interscholastic tournaments open new vistas for students. This is the kind of program DPS must preserve to attract and retain the city's best and brightest young people.”

Well said. Does anyone know what the chess budget is for the Chicago Public Schools? It can’t be much. . . . Anyone thinking of cutting chess should talk to Laurie Erdman of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, who knows it’s “not just another board game with interesting pieces. . . . It is a brain developer." Laurie has the goods in Education World. . . . And who knew there was a Martin Luther King Day scholastic chess tournament here in Illinois? Not us. Thanks to the Bloomington Pantagraph we do now. Sounds like it was fun.

What is a pantagraph, anyway?

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Update (5:38 pm)
In answer to the above question, Michele Steinbacher-Kemp, author of The Pantagraph’s chess article, sends this:

“The Pantagraph was founded Jan. 14, 1837 by Jesse W. Fell. I'm told publisher C.P. Merriman created the name in 1853, which comes from the Greek ‘to write all things.’

“Our motto is ‘Independent in everything. Neutral in nothing.’"

Thanks, Michele.


Unknown said...

Good find Tom. I read about this, and it was good that the parents fought back. I would have a hard time believing that parents in CPS would do it for one simple reason: NO ONE KNOWS WHAT THE DARN BUDGET IS! Chess is rolled up into the Sports Dept, and the only money supposedly given is for the city tournament. The person over chess gets $58K/year as salary, but the majority of his work is processing paperwork for the other sports; only a fraction of his time is spent on actual CHESS development.

There needs to be a person in each Area that is a chess coordinator and sets up events. I've been pushing for this idea for years. They can have a season within their area, and the top 2-3 teams from each area will compete at the city level. I don't know what's so hard about this. You can get a chess coach within the area a small stipend to be the coordinator and run the events. Even if there are only a few schools in each area to start, at least you have someone close enough who can work to get programs in each of the schools.

That's my blabber for today. :)

Tom Panelas said...


I would very much like to see CPS hold a series tournaments in each area or region as qualifiers leading up to the championship meet. It would make that final tournament more like a real championship if you had to beat your local schools to get there. I would also like to see CPS do more to help and encourage schools to start and develop their chess programs.

Unknown said...

I'm glad we're on the same page. I think the format of the Youth Chess Foundation is ideal for this. This truly isn't a hard thing to do if people would just simply do their job and be committed to it. I hope this happens soon!