Thursday, June 4, 2009

Miami-Dade Loses Scholastic Chess Icon

Arden Dilley, Adolpho Perez, Frank Cobo and Jeff Nelson

Arden Dilley, the grandfather of scholastic chess in Miami-Dade, passed away Tuesday of heart failure. Mr. Dilley is credited with organizing scholastic chess tournaments in Miami-Dade County. He started teaching kids chess at Olympia Heights back in 1968. He will be missed. Below is an article he wrote for the Chess Education newsletter "Developing Pieces" in August 0f 2006.

Arden Dilley: Miami-Dade Scholastic Chess Pioneer Speaks
August 2006

I started allowing my students to play chess before, at lunch and after school at Olympia Heights in 1968 and later at Dunbar. As a PE teacher, I found it to be a good rainy day activity as well. Later, I organized the first scholastic Grand Prix events under the not for profit Miami-Dade Scholastic Chess Association. What I found was that children who learn to play chess improve
their focus, block out distractions, and pay attention to what they are doing.
Chess is prevalent in Miami because it is an international metropolis . Chess is popular in almost every country except the U.S. and our students represent all parts of the globe. Research is also needed to demonstrate the effects of chess that are already well documented anecdotally. Test scores will improve and kids will want to be in school.
Chess in M-DCPS lacks uniformity. All canoes must be paddling in the same direction. There are several entities who have their own agendas and won’t give up control for the good of the cause. Title I does not train coaches or sponsors. AEP trains once a year and only reaches the elementary level . Professional development with TEC points must be offered. A course for teachers could be developed. The chess coordinator position is a step in the right direction but must be given widespread support from all the faces of scholastic chess. A budget to administer new programs is absolutely necessary. Parks and recreation programs can develop chess programs after school and in the summer.
The biggest obstacle has always been principals who have never witnessed the changes in the attitudes of children towards school after learning the game. Not only will attendance improve but test scores and self esteem will increase. The key is training teachers who are truly interested in making a difference and the rest takes care of itself.