Checkmate! Chess coaches meet pandemic challenges with online program
EDMONTON -- Linda and Daniel Dupre have been teaching kids how to play chess for 20 years.
"Our goal was to make chess for kids exciting and fun, and we've been very successful doing that," Daniel told CTV News Edmonton.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, they were forced them to rethink their face-to-face approach.
“We were up to about 200 students we were teaching a week. After COVID started, we dropped down to about 100. Since then it’s been a little bit difficult to maintain.”
The Fort Saskatchewan-based business lost 75 per cent of its students when the lockdowns began. So the chess coaches found a way to share their classes online.
"We have a core group of kids that are really into chess that are just really loving the program," Daniel Dupre said. "The challenge is making it interesting, as fun as possible."
“Online we’re using a lot of visuals that I think really enhance the instruction. Visuals that we can’t use in person.”
The live interactive program now has about 50 students each week. Daniel said they’ve even picked up a few extra students because of the Netflix series “The Queen’s Gambit.”
“It’s great to see a chess revival again I think the last one we had was 40, 50 years ago so this is awesome.”
Jones Anderson started playing chess when he was three years old and joined a chess club five years ago, in kindergarten.
He really likes the videos used in the online classes and being able to log on any day of the week.
“I don’t just do this class I play online as well. I play against other people online,” he said.
"It's been super great for both of our kids to have the intellectual stimulation and the caring from Mr. Daniel," Jones' mom Katie Anderson said. "Especially though the pandemic, it's been a real constant for the kids."
The success of the online program aside, the Dupres are looking forward to returning to normal at some point as well.
"There's nothing like doing it in person," Daniel said. "We miss that."