How children in orphanages of Tatarstan taught to play chess

The correspondent of Realnoe Vremya visited a lesson in the social rehabilitation centre in Kazan

How children in orphanages of Tatarstan taught to play chess
Photo: Maksim Platonov

Tatarstan orphans, disabled children and children with deviant behaviour are taught to play chess from the beginning of 2021. The initiative of the Association of Professional Trainers of the Republic of Tatarstan has been implemented thanks to the Presidential Grants Fund and the grant of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Tatarstan. As a result, while some are learning to build a game strategy, others are already getting a rank in chess. Read the details in the material of Realnoe Vremya.

From history to chess strategy

" There are three cases of a draw," Andrey Kuzmin, a leading teacher of the Association of Professional Coaches of the Republic of Tatarstan, explains standing at the chessboard hanging on the wall.

He is being listened to by 16 children of different ages. The youngest is about 10 years old, the oldest is going to turn 18 soon. The lesson is held in the social rehabilitation centre for children and adolescents with deviant behaviour Duslyk. This is the eighth meeting in a row — the children started with the basics and the history of chess, and now they are learning to play.

“We are studying the theory of chess, where it came from, learning the rules and basic tactics, how to behave during the game," the teacher explains to the correspondent of Realnoe Vremya.

Together with the basic knowledge for the game, Andrey Kuzmin shares the stories of famous chess players about how they coped with life's difficulties.

The children were listening to him carefully. However, it can be difficult to sit still for the youngest.

“Karolina, do you understand?" the teacher asks personally the girl in the front rows.

“Yes," the girl nods.

When it comes to answer what the mate means, there is a pause in the audience — the children forgot what it means.

“Checkmate is when there are no moves”, “This is when the king is checkmated”, “This is a threat to the king”, — these are the answers. Andrey Kuzmin was beginning to explain the term from the very beginning, but then another late boy enters the audience and immediately answers that checkmate is when the king is under the check and no longer has moves.

Then the children play themselves. The older ones are with each other, and the younger ones are with the teacher at the blackboard. While some at the back of the table are arguing for which colour they are playing, others are raising their hands to make the next move.

Children are listening to the teacher carefully, however, it is difficult for the youngest to sit still

“This activity is like air, our fulcrum”

To learn more about the project within which the classes are held, we go out into the corridor with its curator Tatyana Shiryaeva. The interlocutor of Realnoe Vremya says that in 2019 they got a grant from the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Tatarstan. Back then, chess lessons were held in Kazan at the Gavrosh orphanage, the Republican Special Secondary School for Children with Deviant Behaviour, the Privolzhsky District Orphanage, and the Levchenko boarding school for children with deviant behaviour. In the latter, by the way, two years after classes, two children already have a chess category.

While Tatyana Shiryaeva wak speaking about the activities of the Association of Professional Coaches of the Republic of Tatarstan, a little girl ran out of the class — right into her arms. The interlocutor embraces the child with a habitual gesture and continues.

The presidential grant was not easy to win. Everything worked out only from the fifth time. Now in 2021, the Association of Professional Trainers of the Republic of Tatarstan launched classes in-person and remotely in orphanages and special institutions throughout the republic — in Kazan, Chistopol, Laishevo, Zelenodolsk, Yelabuga, and Raifa. In a total of eight institutions that confirmed their desire to participate at the stage of preparation of the grant application. Since the beginning of the year, they have already conducted more than 30 lessons for children from 4 to 18 years old.

“When you understand that there are people to whom we can be useful, our knowledge and skills are useful, then it gives such support! Even at the beginning of the pandemic, this project, understanding what we were doing, brought such peace of mind. We knew that the community needed us, that there were kids, guys who loved us and were waiting for us," explains Tatiana Shiryaeva, the curator of the project 'Chess Education: Chess Unites Hearts'.

The Association of Professional Trainers of the Republic of Tatarstan plans to continue this work by participating in new grant competitions.

“Children are the future of Russia, and what if one of them will make a significant contribution to science? Our conscience will be clear, because we in our generation did not waste time on discouragement and laziness, we did something," says the curator of the project.

Returning to the classroom and seeing that the lesson was coming to an end, Tatiana Shiryaeva arranged an impromptu blitz test, after thanking the children for their initiative and desire to learn. And if they correctly answer the question about the birthplace of chess — India, then they do not know current world chess grandmaster Magnus Carlsen.

“Is he the smartest?" one of the guys asks with childlike spontaneity.

By Maria Gorozhaninova Photo: Maksim Platonov
Events Tatarstan