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Sally Wallwork - Chess Coach

Sally Wallwork - Chess Coach

What do you think makes you a good coach?

I think a good coach is someone who is able to relate to the people they are teaching, is able to communicate well and has a good knowledge of the game. They must be able to make it fun if they are working with children. To bring out the best in each of them as individuals and give appropriate feedback as well as noticing when they do something well.

What are your key strengths?

As a Chess coach my key strength is my communication skills honed from years of working with children and being an active Playcentre mum. I can manage a group of children and feel really comfortable in the classroom environment. I am able to adjust my teaching to the group and also the individual children, so they enjoy coming to lessons, learn to love the game, have fun, and not only understand the rules, but also the etiquette of chess.

Why do you love Chess?

I love that Chess is enjoyable to people just starting out and also to those who have played for many decades. It has such depth to what can be studied. It keeps me interested and draws me to want to learn more and be better.

When/how did you first learn to play?

I learned to play chess as a child. I would play with my brother, who was incredibly competitive and hated losing. I also hated losing but unfortunately spent many hours doing just that! I didn’t play seriously again until a couple of years ago at which time I got the chess bug! I now play weekly with a club and also spend hours each week studying chess to improve my game.

Why do you enjoy working with kids?

As a primary teacher, I love how each child is different. Chess attracts a certain type of child. I love working with these children specifically as they are usually the deep thinkers, the quiet achievers. As a mum of a quiet deep thinker, I believe these children are often overlooked in the school system. Chess allows them to shine, to get attention, to foster their talents.

What are your main Chess achievements?

My main Chess achievement is starting clubs in various west Auckland schools over the last couple of years. Introducing chess to these schools was a lot of fun for me and I loved seeing children enjoy learning the game. On a personal level, I feel proud to be the only female at my own chess club for the last 18 months. I would love to encourage more females to learn and play chess.

How do you think Chess helps kids?

Chess allows children to slow down, think deeper and practice social skills in a quiet and structured setting. It teaches patience and turn-taking and how to win and lose with grace. It allows the quieter child to succeed and to be involved in a group activity such as tournaments. Chess allows children to relate to others, connect with those that have a similar interest in a face to face setting.

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