Chess Improves Critical Thinking Skills
For years, research has clearly shown that playing chess improves academic performance in children. In many cases, the child develops an intellectual confidence that leads to better grades and higher self-esteem. Overwhelming evidence of improved learning skills can be obtained by learning to play chess.
Chess is wholesome and has a number of practical advantages over many other activities. There is no risk of injuries. It only takes two to play (one if you have a hand-held or conventional computer). It is usually a quiet game. Siblings of different ages can make games interesting by taking away pieces from the stronger player (similar to using a handicap in golf). You can use clocks to shorten the length of the game (Blitz chess).
There is a great team variation called "Bughouse" in which it's two against two, side by side. Captured pieces are passed to one's partner who, on his next move, can place that piece anywhere on his board. All four players are timed. Your team wins if there is a checkmate on either board or if either of your opponents run out of time before you or your partner (5 minutes for each player). This team variation is extremely popular all over the country. At tournaments, the winners stay "up" and a new team replaces the losing team. It is great fun!
Chess improves abilities in reasoning, comprehension, concentration, reading, persistence, planning, logic, problem solving, patience, decision-making, objectivity, math, self-control, commitment, and thinking development.
What About Playing in Chess Tournaments?
As a student plays in more "rated tournaments," he is assigned a rating that reflects the strength of his play. Like a handicap in golf, it is an easy way to track one's progress. Tournaments are computer-structured to identify an individual winner; that is, after the first round, losers play losers, winners play winners, and in later rounds, one plays another with the same record. Better players move toward the "top table." When the shout, "Pairings are up!" is heard, each player rushes to the wall to find out who he will play, his rating, what board, and what color.
Chess tournaments are a great family activity. Unlike baseball, there are no scheduled practices with chess. You don't have to go to all the tournaments; you can pick and choose. A Saturday tournament will last from about 9:00 until 5:00. Parents bring coffee and folding chairs and have a great visit when they are not watching games in progress. Tournaments are meant to be enjoyed.
Tournaments have a way of awakening the desire to get better. They will learn a lesson that will serve them well the rest of their life: how to bounce back after a setback and keep trying. Our motto is, "You either win or you have a learning experience."
A Fun Way to Improve Academic Performance
Not only is chess a family activity you all can enjoy (you can take chess sets to doctor's appointments, vacations, and picnics). You can have also make chess part of your curriculum. At breakfast, hand out a couple of chess puzzles for your child(ren) to solve. The ensuing race to see who solves it first quickens the children to a mental alertness that kicks off attention and concentration for that day's learning.
Can Chess Really Build Character?
It was Benjamin Franklin who said:
"The game of chess is not merely an idle amusement; several very valuable qualities of the mind, useful in the course of human life, are to be acquired and strengthened by it, so as to become habits ready on all occasions."
Chess can demonstrate to your children that diligent work, e.g. practice, learning from mistakes, and purposeful study, yields the fruit of success.
One characteristic of the present culture is the instant gratification syndrome. The speeding treadmill of life has a way of making us want everything quickly . . . now! Your child will learn patience playing chess. Impulsive, premature attacks can be lethal for the attacker who fails to patiently pursue sound development of his pieces. Many games are won by developing and waiting for your opponent to make a mistake. Chess has a way of maturing the mind's ability to slow down, think clearly, and resist emotional urges in decision making.
How Your Children Can Become Better Chess Players
Here's some ways that Johnny can become a stronger player: understand the fundamental strategies, play (preferably stronger players), work lots of chess puzzles, study books or practice with chess software. The basic strategies and sound principles of play can be learned quickly because they are like proverbs, e.g., "Don't bring your Queen out early"; "Castle early"; "Develop knights before bishops"; "When ahead in points, equal exchanges will accelerate your victory"; "Rooks belong on open files"; "Always be looking for a double attack"; "Activate the king in endgame"; and so on.
Lessons for Life
Chess has the excitement of sport, the logic of science, and the beauty of art. Emanuel Lasker (World Champion for 27 straight years) said, "On the chessboard, lies and hypocrisy do not survive long." It has also been said that there are very few things that happen on a chessboard that do not happen to a person in life. Church Chess has enabled children to have wholesome fun with their family and friends in a Godly uplifting enviornment. In the process, they are developing thinking skills and character which will serve them throughout their lives.
Chess is known as a noble game - "a game of kings" - and it is no coincidence since it takes/develops similar skills.
Consider the following facts: in the initial position the player heading the white pieces has 20 possible ways to play, to which his/her opponent can react in an many ways. As the game progresses, the number of possibilities grows, thus for his second move each player will already have about 30 possible moves, which means that after only two moves approximately 360,000 different positions can be reached!
What can be a better simulation of a real life, that forces us to react to just as many changes, big and small on a daily basis? In chess, just like in life, you can either aimlessly wonder around, hoping for a miracle, or set yourself a goal, build a plan and strive to accomplish it. The latter is no guarantee of success, but the former is a sure recipe for failure. Chess teaches you to have a goal and overcome the obstacles on your way there.
A person with the facility to win at chess is ready to conquer any complex problem on either a personal or business level. Learning chess helps develop thinking skills, enhancing mental prowess and directly contributes to academic performance and makes people smarter in a variety of ways, like:
1. Chess dramatically improves the ability to think rationally
2. Chess helps develop patience and thoughtfulness
3. Chess increases cognitive skills
4. Chess improves communication skills and aptitude inrecognizing patterns
5. Chess results in higher grades, especially in English and Math studies
6. Chess makes people be more focused by teaching the benefits of careful observation and concentration
7. Chess stimulates visualizing - players are prompted to imagine a sequence of actions before they happen
8. Chess builds a sense of team spirit, while emphasizing the ability of the individual
9. Chess teaches the value of hard work, concentration and commitment
10. Chess instills a sense of self-confidence and self-worth
11. Chess makes a person realize responsibility for own actions and acceptance of the consequences
12. Chess helps make friends more easily because it provides a safe forum for gathering and discussion
13. Chess, through competition, gives a palpable sign of accomplishments
14. Chess develops the thinking ahead abilities - players have to think first and only then act.
15. Most important reason........ IT'S FUN!