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Comment: As an actual, full-time chess coach... (Score 5, Insightful) 128

by DamienRBlack (#47446741) Attached to: How To Fix The Shortage of K-5 Scholastic Chess Facilitators

I am a full-time chess coach for K-5 kids. I have over 200 students that I see every week. At first I though this article was going to address the very real demand for more skilled coaches in K-5 schools. Instead, the article is trying to push a software/hardware solution that would make it "easier" to adjudicate games and tournaments. This solution is addressing a problem that doesn't actually exist.

Here is the problem they present as an example: an 'argument' between two students about whether a position is checkmate. The presented solution: a variety of software/hardware that will make it easier to 'referee' the position. This is ridiculous. When two students are having an argument, figuring out whether there is checkmate on the board is usually the easiest problem to solve. Getting the students to calm down and be good sports is the hard part.

In addition, there is no shortage of adjudication at tournaments. One or two coaches can easily handle the problems of 300+ students in a tournament. We don't need legions of people equipped with apps to go watch children's games. To make the article even more irrelevant, most tournaments across the world are run with a "non-interference" rule. This means that the tournament staff cannot actually comment on whether a position is checkmate. It is up to the students to come to a decision on their own, agree and report. The coaches with let them report an incorrect result if that is what they agree on. It is part of the game. So the coach doesn't actually need to know whether the position is really checkmate.

The only time an actual ruling needs to be passed is if the students can't come to an agreement. This is very rare and will usually only happen 1 in 2000 games or so. We don't need to RDIF tag all of our 16000+ tournament pieces just so that 1 in 2000 games someone who knows nothing about chess can make an accurate ruling. We'll just bring over an expert in those cases.

A quick aside to those questioning the benefits of K-5 chess, it is hugely beneficial to students. Sure, it would be great if they spent the time they did on chess on other things, like algorithms or biology. However, most students don't get super worked up about algorithms. They aren't going to willingly spend 15 hours a week on algorithms. They will happily spend that time on chess however, and chess is teaching them a lot of the same skills. Critical thinking, carefulness, perseverance, recovering from mistakes, cause and effect, and on, and on.

The most important skill that students learn is how much effort you have to put into something in order to really become an expert. Nothing else a child does in their K-12 years really teaches them that in order to be an expert, you need to spend years and years working on it. Chess is very good at driving this point home.

Anyone saying things like "every minute playing chess would be better spent learning about algorithms, computer programming, or biology." has clearly never sat a kindergartener down and try to teach them algorithms. Every day. For a year. Teach them chess. They will grasp it. They will want to learn. It is fun. They will gain skills that you wouldn't be able to impart in other ways.

But you don't need to take my word on it. The benefits of chess have been have been well studied. Scholastic chess is one of the few things that has been proven to consistently increase academic performance, collage success and future income.

Comment: Re:Noone read the articles (Score 2) 183

It is true. I made a ridiculous looking wikipedia article back in 2006 while making a scavenger hunt for my girlfriend. For more than six years that article has sat there, even though it references fake people, fake companies and fake quotes. It has even been cleaned up a little by others over the years.

The worst it got is a 'this article may contain original research' tag. I'm sure if it had widespread exposure someone would realize it is completely fake. But articles on wikipedia just don't get exposure. They sit there until someone looks them up. And that person is rarely an expert.

Comment: Why do they keep trying this? (Score 2) 38

by DamienRBlack (#36125438) Attached to: This Robot Needs a Hug
Is there really that big a demand to relay hugs, kisses and so forth over the internet? Who out there really has a need for this product? Isn't email and phone and video chat enough? I just don't get it. Is is a Japanese culture thing? Does it make more sense in their society or do they just like doing weird stuff?

Comment: Re:Whoops (Score 2) 510

by DamienRBlack (#36021830) Attached to: Aaron Computer Rental Firm Spies On Users
I am a "poor person". A "serially-poor" one. Math has been and still is my subject of interest. Currently, my skill in math lies somewhere mid-way through differential equations. My mathematics education, as well as computer science, physics, chemistry, philosophy and music are all gained from auditing college classes. Do to circumstances currently beyond my control, I can't afford to actually take the classes. I cannot get a loan, as I made a mistake when I was 17 years old and forgot to un-enroll from a semester of classes I didn't end up taking. Now I owe a state owned collection agency $6,000 plus a hefty amount of interest. I can't enroll or take out student loans until I've paid in full. Actually, it suits me fine. I prefer learning on my own and I don't think I could stand the tedium of going to classes over things I've known and used for years. In the meantime though, I find myself unable to "prove" to anyone my merit. So I find myself without a job that pays a reasonable amount. I am currently running a business, but the truth is that it takes lots of money to make money. I scrape by, but only barely. And I assure you, it isn't because of my math skills.

"Only the hypocrite is really rotten to the core." -- Hannah Arendt.

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