Chess Coach Interview ~ Robin Ramson, DC Chess Girls

Chess Coach Business Interview

This spring, we had the chance to catch up with Robin Ramson, the Founder of DC Chess Girls: a Washington, D.C. based chess non-profit dedicated to encouraging more girls to play chess. When we spoke, she had just returned from a national tournament where her daughter got to compete with children from all over the country.

I know you have lots of stories about chess making a difference. Can you share one story with our readers?

The first one that comes to mind is that of a girl in our program who also participates in a school-based program. There weren’t many girls in the school-based program and the boys were much better than her when she started. Her mom said her daughter almost gave up many times, but ultimately had the courage to keep going due to her continued involvement with with DC Chess Girls. The other girls in the club were really supportive and we do a lot as a club to encourage tournament play. I think providing this kind of encouragement is essential. It takes so long time to get good at chess that recognition for effort and achievement of certain milestones can make a huge difference. I think girls respond well to people noticing their effort (not that boys don’t), so we make sure that we do just that. The other girls in our program are competitive, but they don’t participate in school programs. Even though the other kids on the school team had much higher ratings, it was this girl who ended up getting awards. In addition to the support, we’ve been lucky to have great coaching. I say ‘lucky’ because we are an all-volunteer organization and I hire only experts or above. Our coaches analyze games and provide lectures to prompt thinking about how the girls can take their games to next level. In addition to the chess improvement, the mom said her daughter has become more focused, less intimidated about taking tests, and shows more persistence when tackling difficult subjects. Continue reading “Chess Coach Interview ~ Robin Ramson, DC Chess Girls”

How a Simple but Powerful Chess Tool Can Teach Independent Learning, Game Improvement & More

What kids can learn from writing down their games

Chess notation is like a music score for chess. When a game is recorded using chess notation it is forever saved for review by the player, friends, coaches or future generations. Thanks to notation, we can replay games from as far back as two or three hundred years ago. We can relive the moment, imagining how the great players of the past thought and felt as they played the classics that would stand the test of time. We can experience the highs and lows of a game and vicariously feel the impact of each thrilling victory, crushing defeat or fighting draw.  The game score is like instant replay in sports, allowing the student to dissect the game down to its smallest detail. This can be very exciting, but, most importantly, it is also a phenomenal learning tool. Continue reading “How a Simple but Powerful Chess Tool Can Teach Independent Learning, Game Improvement & More”

Using Music in the Chess Classroom

Why music?  These days, kids seem to be always plugged in to something…music, video games, computers.  When permitted, many will listen to music while studying or playing chess.   The adults in their lives often debate with them about the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of listening to music while trying to concentrate. Researchers have found mixed results when looking at characteristics of music (number of beats per minute, for example) that impact people in specific ways.  It seems that music may be able to help improve focus, problem solving, stress levelcreativity, behavior, and energy level.  Since students are better able to learn and remember when they are in a positive emotional state, music may offer an additional benefit as a tool to influence mood.

Music Experiments in Chess Class?

How to listen:  While scientists continue to examine the issue, you can help students make academic connections by conducting experiments  Continue reading “Using Music in the Chess Classroom”