Checkmate! Chess coaches meet pandemic challenges with online program

EDMONTON – Linda and Daniel Dupré have been teaching children to play chess for 20 years.

“Our goal was to make chess for kids exciting and fun, and we’ve been very successful in doing that,” Daniel told CTV News Edmonton.

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, they were forced to rethink their face-to-face approach.

“We were up to about 200 students we taught per week. After COVID started, we dropped to around 100. Since then it has been a bit difficult to maintain. “

The Fort Saskatchewan-based company lost 75 percent of its students when the lockdowns began. So chess coaches have found a way to share their lessons online.

“We have a core of kids who really love chess and really love the program,” said Daniel Dupré. “The challenge is to make it interesting, as fun as possible.”

“Online we use a lot of visuals which I think really enhance instruction. Visuals that we cannot use in person.

The live interactive program now has approximately 50 students each week. Daniel said they even recruited a few more students because of the Netflix series “The Queen’s Gambit”.

“It’s great to see a revival of chess again, I think the last one we had was 40 or 50 years ago, so it’s great.”

Jones Anderson started playing chess at the age of three and joined a chess club five years ago in kindergarten.

He really enjoys the videos used in the online lessons and being able to tune in any day of the week.

“I don’t just do this class, I also play online. I play against other people online, ”he said.

“It was great for our two children to have the intellectual stimulation and attention from Mr. Daniel,” said Jones’ mother, Katie Anderson. “Especially despite the pandemic, this has been a constant for the children.”

Aside from the success of the online program, the Dupres are also eager to get back to normal at some point.

“There is nothing quite like doing it in person,” Daniel said. “We miss it.”


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