Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Chess Benefits Profiled

A recent article in the Yuma Sun addressed youth chess in that pocket of Arizona.


It included some darling observations:
Some teens even think the 1,600-year-old game is more interactive than video games.

“You're not just there, pressing buttons. You're actually thinking about your next move...” 
Of most universal interest were the wonderful quotes provided from advanced.org, the creators of ThinkQuest.  It profiles a number of "chess benefits" which suggest the activity to be an excellent augmentation of the scholastic role. I've seen this list before but it bears repeating:

  • Chess is a game for people of all ages. You can learn to play at any age and unlike in many other sports, you don't ever have to retire. Age is also not a factor when you're looking for an opponent — young can play old and old can play young.
  • Chess develops memory. The chess theory is complicated and many players memorize different opening variations. You will also learn to recognize various patterns and remember lengthy variations.
  • Chess improves concentration. During the game you are focused on only one main goal: to checkmate and become the victor.
  • Chess develops logical thinking. Chess requires some understanding of logical strategy. For example, you will know that it is important to keep your king safe at all times and not to blunder your pieces away for free.
  • Chess promotes imagination and creativity. It encourages you to be inventive. There are an indefinite amount of combinations yet to be constructed.
  • Chess teaches independence. You are forced to make important decisions influenced only by your own judgment.
  • Chess shows that success rewards hard work. The more you practice, the better you'll become. You should be ready to lose and learn from your mistakes.
  • Chess and mathematics. Chess involves an infinite number of calculations, anything from counting the number of attackers and defenders in the event of a simple exchange to calculating lengthy continuations.
  • Chess and art. Your imagination will run wild with endless possibilities on the 64 squares. You will paint pictures in your mind of ideal positions and perfect outposts for your soldiers.
  • Chess and psychology. Chess is a test of patience, nerves, willpower and concentration. It enhances your ability to interact with other people. It tests your sportsmanship in a competitive environment.
  • Chess improves schoolwork and grades. Numerous studies have proven that kids obtain a higher reading level, math level and a greater learning ability overall as a result of playing chess.
  • Chess is cheap. You don't need big fancy equipment to play chess. In fact, all you may need is your computer or a home set.
  • Chess is fun. This isn't just another one of those board games. No chess game ever repeats itself, which means you create more and more new ideas each game. It never gets boring. 
Should any local school authorities wish to partner with the DeKalb Chess Club in bringing this wonderful activity to the school, we stand ready to help on a volunteer basis. Initial outreach has brought an amazing array of bureaucratic stonewalling. But perhaps that's indicative of our local school culture.
 

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