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Thursday, October 02, 2008

The Future of Scholastic Chess

“Where Have You Gone, Rachels, Shaked & Rao?” is the title of an interesting article by FM Mike Klein in the September 2008 issue of Chess Life magazine. It is essentially a brief “where are they now” piece profiling Stuart Rachels, Tal Shaked and Vivek Rao, all of whom were young talents who achieved significant success in chess, only to leave the world of competitive chess in their prime, or even before reaching their prime.

This of course, is nothing new. Even the reasons why “chess dropouts” occur are not a mystery. But I was interested in hearing from those closest to this issue – players, coaches, parents, teachers, administrators – what might be done to stem the flow. Here are the questions I posed to them:

1. What can be done to remedy the common situation in which talented youngsters often drift away from chess after high school?

2. Should anything be done? Is it fair to try to encourage kids to devote serious time to chess when, at least at present, it is virtually impossible to make a decent living from chess?

3. What suggestions might you offer to encourage greater corporate or government involvement in the financial support of chess in K-12 schools and colleges/universities? Should there be any government involvement?

4. Imagine that the USCF is financially healthy and free from the infighting and turf battles that have raged for years. Also imagine that a five-year $10,000,000 grant ($2,000,000 per year) has been provided for the support of scholastic and college chess. How might you allocate such funds and what type of five-year plan might you offer?

Responses to the first two of these questions from a broad spectrum within the chess community - players, parents, coaches, administrators - appear in my ChessCafe Scholastic Chess column, due to appear next Wednesday, with the final two questions to be covered in my November column.

But I'm interested in your thoughts as well. You can e-mail me at scholasticchess@gmail.com.

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