Scholastics and the Soul of Chess: Is Scholastic Chess Killing Tournament Chess, or, Saving It?
Scholastics and the Soul of Chess: Is Scholastic Chess Killing Tournament Chess, or, Saving It? by Tom Braunlich
The debate about the nature of chess used to be whether it is a sport, an art, or a science.
Now a powerful new group has a different idea: chess is a tool. An educational tool. This influential group surprisingly now makes up the majority of USCF members and a large part of the USCF governance, affecting traditional chess in many ways.
The USCF is even now seriously considering an offer by one educational organization to merge with the USCF. The ramifications of these changes for the average adult player are revolutionary, and not necessarily welcome.
The scholastic chess movement has been wonderfully educational for thousands of kids, but it also holds the future of adult tournament chess in its hands and a growing number of players are questioning whether scholastics is doing more harm than good, with concerns in four areas:
Until I began to research this article I, like most other adult players, didn’t really understand what “scholastic chess” was. I naively thought it was the same thing as “junior chess,” just better organized than it used to be back when I was a junior in the ‘70s. Boy was I wrong!
To understand the state of chess in America today you must understand the true nature of scholastic chess.
NOTE: I spent months researching this article on the internet scouring websites and newsgroups, and talking to many prominent scholastic and adult chess organizers and politicians around the country (many of whom are quoted here). The emphasis is upon scholastics from a national perspective, not on the particular issues we have had recently with scholastics in Oklahoma, although I will sometimes refer to those by way of example.
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