Chess on the move in Hong Kong

by Antonio Pereira
7/12/2018 – The 9th Annual Hong Kong Scholastic Championship took place on June 10 at Kellett School. The activity was a great success, as more than 150 children participated. Individual and team winners received awards after struggling during seven hours of rapid play. A big pictorial report shows that Hong Kong might have a bright future in chess, if these initiatives take root. | Photos: Official website

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Not only a game, an educational tool

The Scholastic Championship in Hong Kong was organized by ActiveKids, a company that focuses on working with schools to improve children's learning experience. They do that through several scientific, artistic and social programs, like RoboCode or ArtCrafters. It is no surprise that chess found its way to fit in this environment. ActiveKids' Chess Academy has been active during fourteen years and focuses on helping kids improve both their skills and their character.

SmarTone, a large telecommunications company sponsored the event. They provided awards and helped the organizers present the most important games in two electronical DGT boards. 

Not often kids get to play on DGT boards | Photo: Official website

The kids were divided in four sections and played six rounds of 25-minute games. Winners were declared in every age group from 5-year-olds up to 16-year-olds. All four divisions also had individual and team winners. 

Active chess followers are well aware of the benefits of chess in education. In countries like Armenia or Spain chess is already an established fixture in educatonal curricula. For many parents throughout the world this is not an obvious fact, however. Motivated and talented kids might be missing out on this great tool, as International Master Juan Armando Röhl, the head of ActiveKids' chess program, put it:

 "Chess is an activity that develops a lot of intellectual processes. It has been proven that playing chess is very beneficial to children. It can stimulate their logical thinking skills and the capacity for concentration. Their ability to solve problems and their analytical capacity can also be enhanced by playing chess. These are really important elements that can help children become successful individuals, especially in today’s complex and competitive world."

They learn and have fun at the same time | Photo: Official website

Concentration | Photo: Official website

Grace So, a civil engineer, is the founder of ActiveKids. With the company, she is trying to fill a gap in the educational system:

"Looking back fourteen years ago, there were not many extracurricular activities for children to choose from, and often times, the quality of these programs was not very consistent. Thus, I realized then that there was a big gap between what children needed and available high quality extracurricular activities". 

ActiveKids' founder Grace So with a group of winners | Photo: Official website

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The Chess Academy of Hong Kong will organize a Summer Open with slower time controls in July and August.

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Antonio is a freelance writer and a philologist. He is mainly interested in the links between chess and culture, primarily literature. In chess games, he skews towards endgames and positional play.
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