Chess is not just the pieces, its not just winning and losing, and its defiantly not just some game you play to pass the time. It is proven to raise your IQ, increase your creativity. It improves memory, problem-solving skills, concentration, and not to mention studies show playing chess prevents Alzheimer’s disease and other deteriorating brain diseases. The reasoning involved in understanding chess is especially useful to help mold young minds to their highest potential. America’s Foundation for Chess (AF4C) has being working with elementary school students and their teachers to showcase chess as a learning tool. This programs goal hopes to “use the game of chess as a tool, to increase higher level thinking skills, advanced math and reading skills, and build self-confidence.”
Many studies, and my personal experience, have shown chess to have an extreme impact on kids of all ages. The AF4C views 2nd to 3rd graders as being the ideal age. Eight and nine year-old minds and thinking skills are developing rapidly, and chess teaches things such as the ability to visualize, analyze, and think creatively.
“If you teach an adult to play chess, they quickly comprehend where they should and shouldn’t move pieces to capture or avoid capture. Young Kate knew the names of the pieces and how they moved, but initially moved her pieces randomly. Soon she was saying, “If I move my piece here, you could capture it, right? Then I’m not going to move there.” You can almost see the mental changes taking place”(Fischer).
The schools that implement this program do nothing but rave about the impact it brings with it. It also doubles not only as gym for your brain but a social game that brings people together. A principal of one of the schools stated “We have 34 different languages spoken at our school, and chess is now the one we have in common.” I can’t image the game of chess reaching every 2nd and 3rd grader that they try to teach it to but the kids that it does reach show amazing benefits from it. I strongly support the idea of teaching chess to kids, it is a life tool, and will teach you lessons deeper than just chess. The chessboard teaches the idea of a grid as each piece and move can be thought of as a sequence and each square has a different coordinate. Since each piece has different value to the game it teaches economic ideas of marginal benefit and cost. It even gives kids an introduction to ties of history with all of the pieces (pawn, queen, king, bishop, knight, rook) having symbolic ties to the hierarchy of an early society. It also helps to build confidence. A big kid that dominates in gym class has no advantage over anyone else in chess. A bully can’t argue with the rules of chess and can’t avoid getting his ego hurt by a kid kicking his butt on a chessboard. It is a total equal playing field that can teach the value hard work and practice. I love chess the benefits it brings are amazing. I am and will continue to be an outspoken supporter of the benefits of chess.
Fischer, Wendi. “Educational Value of Chess.” Johns Hopkins School of Education. July 2006. Web. 18 Sept. 2015. <http://education.jhu.edu/PD/newhorizons/strategies/topics/thinking-skills/chess/>.