Dutch Chess Educator Karel van Delft to be Honored as Chess Educator of the Year

Karel van Delft portrait

Karel van Delft, a chess educator, writer, lecturer, and coach from the Netherlands has been named the 2022 University of Texas at Dallas Chess Educator of the Year by the UT Dallas Chess Program. He will be honored at an event on Feb. 22, where he will speak on the topic of Chess and Special Needs.

The Chess Educator of the Year event is free and will be held virtually from 7-8 p.m. CT. To reserve your spot, please contact the director of the UT Dallas Chess Program, Jim Stallings (Click here to show email address), by Feb. 20.

“It is an honor to receive this award from UT Dallas,” said van Delft. “It is clear that we share a commitment to using chess as a tool that can help children and adults grow.”

According to van Delft, chess is a metaphor for life and can be used as an educational tool for children and adults to develop practical and personality skills (social, emotional, cognitive, metacognitive). He said it also applies to children with special needs such as autism, highly giftedness, and dyslexia.

“Through chess, children can become empowered, gaining insight on themselves and their environment,” he said.

In the 1990s, van Delft saw possibilities to apply social psychology to create a local chess culture. He organized tournaments and developed training methods, which led to a chess team that plays in the highest Dutch league with 80 percent local players. Van Delft and his son, Merijn, eventually discussed these methods in their book, Developing Chess Talent. Later, van Delft wrote Chess for Educators, which covers science, didactics, and special needs groups.

Eventually, van Delft left his journalism career to become a professional chess teacher. He currently runs Chess Academy Apeldoorn, teaches chess at schools, coaches, gives lectures, and writes articles and books about chess psychology. He also teaches chess in highly gifted school classes and coaches autistic children via chess. Van Delft also works part-time as science project manager on the science team of Chessable, an instructional platform that seeks to use science to make learning chess as fun and efficient as possible.

To RSVP for the Chess Educator of the Year event or for more information, please contact the director of the UT Dallas Chess Program, Jim Stallings (Click here to show email address), by Feb. 20.