22 August Debyosy opened a branch of the first Resource Centre for the Promotion of Chess Education and Sports. It is hosted by the Debyosy polytechnic. The presentation included a roundtable that discussed the promotion of chess in the republic.
The Resource Centre will provide a venue for occupational training and retraining of chess teachers at schools, and upskilling of coaches and arbiters. The opening of the centre will go a long way in promoting the sport in Udmurtia.
A key point highlighted by the roundtablers is further steps in promoting chess at all levels. For instance, it is the arrangements between the government of Udmurtia and the Timchenko Foundation that made it possible to open the Resource Centre. Chess trends were discussed over the table by spokespeople for the chess community: Aleksandr Kostyev, president of the International School Chess Union, Aleksandr Vatlin, executive director of the Chess Federation of UR [Udmurt Republic], Matvey Yadryshnikov, head of the Federation in Glazovo, incumbent coaches, and republican government officials: Mikhail Khomich, vice-premier of the UR government, Aleksandr Varshavsky, UR sports minister, and Vladimir Arkhipov, deputy head of the general and pre-school education directorate, the Education Ministry of Udmurtia. The attendees noted that much had already been done for chess, particularly in junior chess. And this is borne out by the players’ performance and the levels of the competitions that have and will be held in the republic.
“This is not about making grandmasters. The primary objective of the resource centres being set up in Udmurtia is to get more children to play chess. If thousands start playing chess seriously, there will definitely be a few genius players among them. Take Magnus Carlsen, the world’s best chess player, for example. He is from Norway. Chess is not a national sport there, not by a long shot. But he became the best because he was enabled to grow there,” Mikhail Khomich, deputy prime minister of Udmurtia, emphasized at the opening of the resource centre. “Nor did the idea to set up resource centres come from nowhere. And we owe thanks to the Timchenko Foundation, the Chess Federation of Russia, the Chess Federation of Udmurtia and its title sponsor, Tsentr Corporation, for making the idea a reality a year and a half later. But we must admit that if Aleksandr Brechalov, the head of Udmurtia, had not arranged for the republic to host the Grand Finals, which took place last year, this may have fallen through. Today we have opened a centre this country has never seen before”.
It was not by chance that the Debyosy polytechnic was chosen to host the Resource centre. It is Udmurtia’s only educational establishment that trains chess teachers. The Centre is expected to take the teacher training system to new heights. And the skills of the sporting children will improve accordingly, and they, in turn, will deliver good results at competitions. The task of the Debyosy centre is to train a minimum of 42 teachers for deployment at Hothouses to be set up at schools. The educational ecosystem is now in place — after the inking of an agreement between Udmurtia and the Timchenko Foundation, the foundation provided funds for the acquisition of laptops, interactive boards, chess sets and tutorials for teachers.
Incidentally, the opening ceremony of the Debyosy resource centre included a workshop taught by Alexander Kostyev for the teachers of the district schools and the resource centre.
“By way of example, I will tell you about the chess federation of Turkey, which became No 1 in sports in that country in a few years. They opted for mandatory certification of all chess teachers and coaches. Like, unless you get a nod from the federation — you can’t teach. To my mind, the resource centre must be tasked, among other things, in selection, with vetting and recruiting teachers. To screen out amateur teachers pitching their services as «Teach you to play in 30 minutes». To make sure the teachers meet the educational requirements and standards. Given that the Debyosy resource centre, which is hosted by the polytechnic, and the centre to be opened in Izhevsk in October, hosted by the Oshchepkov Sports School, are controlled by different agencies — the Sports Ministry and the Education Ministry — I believe that interagency coordination and a single approach are in order. This will be a breakthrough that can be extended to other provinces. And this will indeed give a new impetus to chess education and sports,” Aleksandr Kostyev says confidently.
“Education Minister Svetlana Bolotnikova and I are looking into the matter,” acknowledged Aleksandr Varshavsky, the sports minister of Udmurtia. “The Chess Federation must be the principal authority to decide whether a person can teach chess or not. To be sure, this is a knotty issue and takes time to work out. But resource centres will definitely help in sorting it out”.
The Debyosy Centre will open its doors on 1 September. The Izhevsk Centre will open on 2 October. Both centres have growth programmes in place up to and including 2024.
Udmurtia will be the second point on the map of Russia to open a Chess Resource Centre. The first is operating in the town of Opochka, Pskov Oblast. The republic will have two Centres – the first on the premises of the Oshchepkov chess school in Izhevsk (to be opened in early October), and a branch in Debyosy, hosted by the polytechnic.
Promotion sponsor: Chess Federation of Udmurtia.