ECU Education – What we try to do

in your language…

First Rank is a fortnightly term-time newsletter for everyone interested in chess for education. In this issue, we present the ECU Education Commission. The European Chess Union represents 54 national chess federations. Its Education Commission strives to promote the use of chess in the classroom to improve social and intellectual skills. These are vital for our children’s future as explained in the new promotional video.

ECU EDU video: We Make Europe Smarter!
ECU Education has produced a new video explaining why chess is the ideal classroom tool to prepare children for the digital world.

Do you want the video in your language?

The video “We Make Europe Smarter” is offered to all federations in Europe so you can translate it into your own language for the promotion of Chess in Schools. The logo of the federation can be inserted. Please contact us is you are interested

About ECU Education

  • A Commission of the European Chess Union (ECU-EDU)
  • 54 countries belong to the ECU (wider than the European Union)
  • The ECU Education was launched in 2014 in Tromsø 
  • The goal for the Commission is to develop chess as a pedagogic tool
  • The Commission comprises education experts from different countries
  • The ECU Academic Advisory Board includes distinguished professors
Chess for all Children
The real strength of chess is that it reaches all children, not just the clever children. Graham Gardiner from Australia explains the benefits for children that schools find challenging.

What has ECU Education done so far?

  • Conducted a survey on Chess in Schools in Europe
  • Participated in over 30 chess and education events around Europe
  • Sponsored six Chess in Schools conferences
  • Meetings with EU and national politicians
  • Assisted with ErasmusPlus project proposals
  • Launched First Rank Newsletter – now in 6 languages
  • Introduced the ECU School Chess Teacher Certificate
  • 20 teacher training courses with 300 graduates
  • Introduced the Chess and Maths Course.

What goals does ECU Education have?

  • Develop chess as an educational tool that strengthens social and intellectual skills
  • Create a new standard for teaching chess
  • Support federations, educational organisations, schools and individuals that work with chess as an educational tool
  • Provide training courses for teachers and tutors
  • Provide a full concept for teaching chess in schools

Chess for the future!

Cartoon - man with I love chess t-shirt

Today 5 million children play chess every week in the schools of Europe. Compare this with the 250,000 FIDE-rated chess players in Europe and you understand that chess is not just about titles and competitions. We must recognise that the future of chess is as a tool to develop life skills. This means that the way we teach chess must be changed. The journey has just started, and there is a lot to explore, and methods to develop. I see problems and I see possibilities!

A common problem amongst those who teach chess is that they believe that they know best. They have got nothing to learn from others, so for them the most important thing is to protect their “secrets”. I believe the opposite – that instead of being protective, we should be willing share our ideas and materials.

There are three reasons for this mission: 1) we make more progress if we share our explorations in this new field;  2) the larger cause is to prepare our children for the future not just to make them strong chess players; 3) even though Chess in Schools reaches 5 million kids the movement is growing fast, and in ten years time I predict there will be 20 million kids playing chess each week. That means that every instructor is needed. So let us co-operate on this!

Jesper Hall,
Chair ECU Education

The Anecdote of the Week

Chess Handbook Cover

Who decide the rules of chess?
Chess is played in the same way all over the world, and the rules have been the same for almost 200 years. Or is it so simple? The rules need to be continually updated with technology especially to accommodate game timers and then to prevent cheating using smartphones which have powerful chess engines.  (It is forbidden to bring a smartphone into many tournaments.) The World Chess Federation (FIDE) is responsible for setting the rules of chess. Even though most changes have been technical, sometimes even the traditional rules need to be clarified.   The wording must be very clear. Take a look at this study:

Mate in 1

This is a surprisingly difficult problem until you understand that it was created to show the weakness of this sentence in the rules: “When a pawn reaches the other side of the board from its starting position it must be changed to a new queen, rook, bishop or knight.”Can you solve the problem?

ECU Education Calendar 2019
ECU School Chess Teacher Training Courses 

Spain  For more information

Albacete24 – 25 May
Murcia6 – 7 July
Alicante 4 – 5 September
Santurtzi15 – 16 November


Hamburg6-7 JulyFor more information


Chartres21-22 August For more information


London 30-31 MayTeaching Mathematics through Chess
London 1-2 JuneTeaching Chess in Primary School
Cambridge31 AugustTeaching Mathematics through Chess
Cambridge1-2 September Teaching Chess in Primary School


Puzzle Answer

According to the rule in the handbook, White can play 1.g7-g8=N (A black one!)

Unusual promotion to black knight
The rule had omitted to say that the promotion must be to a piece of the same colour as the pawn promoting. In the next handbook the rule was updated.