Monday, April 15, 2013

Why Chess Should Be Required in U.S. Schools

 
Artwork by Mike Magnan
 
Why Chess Should Be Required in U.S. Schools 
It’s a game that motivates us to win, but also teaches us how to deal with defeat.
April 15, 2013 • By Alex Berezow

Rook to B8. Checkmate. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of defeating a worthy opponent in a game of chess: the ultimate battle of the wits. Of course, it’s not a feeling I have very often, since I’m not very good at chess. On the other hand, my father is officially an “expert” and my friend is a “master.” In other words, they are both very, very good. To give an idea of how good, if I was to play 100 games with each of them, I would win precisely zero. 

Worldwide, chess is still a popular game, but it is treated with particular seriousness in Eastern Europe. For instance, the Bulgarian National Olympic Committee has been lobbying for chess to be recognized as an Olympic sport, as has Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, the Russian president of the World Chess Federation. In September 2011, Armenia made chess a required subject for all children over the age of six. (In the DW-TV news clip below, the children are in 2nd grade.) 

Indeed, the Armenians may be on to something. One recent psychology study found that chess was associated with greater “cognitive abilities, coping and problem-solving capacity, and even socioaffective development of children.” Of course, because it was a cohort (observational) study, the link could be due to some third factor or the possibility that smart, mature children are more inclined to play chess in the first place.

In the above video, the math/chess teacher says, “Chess trains logical thinking. It teaches how to make decisions, trains memory, strengthens will power, motivates children to win, and teaches them how to deal with defeat. It’s the only school subject that can do all of this.”

That is a very interesting insight. Not only does chess help train the brain, but it also teaches children basic life skills. In our culture, we hand out trophies to winners and losers—or neglect to keep score at all—out of some misguided, politically-correct notion that we should never hurt anyone’s feelings. But, in Armenia, schools are teaching children reality: Sometimes you lose. That’s an important lesson, and it should be taught at a young age.

What makes chess so fascinating is that no two games will ever play out the same. Checkers—really a game for intellectual wimps (like me)—has 500 billion billion possible positions, and, in 2007, researchers reported that a computer has solved the game. (If neither side makes a mistake, the outcome is always a draw.) But chess is far more complicated than checkers. It is unlikely that a computer will ever “solve” the game.

Americans are concerned that our children aren’t receiving a solid K-12 education. Perhaps chess should be introduced into the curriculum as a fun way to teach logic and memory?
In fact, I should get back to practicing the game. Knowing that there are seven-year-old Armenians that could run me off the chessboard without breaking a sweat is a tad humiliating.

Source: http://www.psmag.com

Thursday, May 17, 2012

What are the benefits in chess?


WHY SHOULD YOU PLAY CHESS?

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?

Source: http://library.advanced.org/10746/reasons.html

Chess is a game for people of all ages. You can learn to play at any age and in chess, 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 bring your pieces out into the game at the beginning, to keep your king safe at all times, not to make big weaknesses in your position and not to blunder your pieces away for free. (Although you will find yourself doing that occasionally through your chess career. Mistakes are inevitable and chess, like life, is a never-ending learning process.)

§ Chess promotes imagination and creativity. It encourages you to be inventive. There are an indefinite amount of beautiful combinations yet to be constructed.

§ Chess teaches independence. You are forced to make important decisions influenced only by your own judgment.

§ Chess develops the capability to predict and foresee consequences of actions. It teaches you to look both ways before crossing the street.

§ Chess inspires self-motivation. It encourages the search of the best move, the best plan, and the most beautiful continuation out of the endless possibilities. It encourages the everlasting aim towards progress, always steering to ignite the flame of victory.

§ 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. One of the greatest players ever, Capablanca said, "You may learn much more from a game you lose than from a game you win. You will have to lose hundreds of games before becoming a good player."

§ Chess and Science. Chess develops the scientific way of thinking. While playing, you generate numerous variations in your mind. You explore new ideas, try to predict their outcomes and interpret surprising revelations. You decide on a hypothesis, and then you make your move and test it.

§ Chess and Technology. What do chess players do during the game? Just like computers they engage in a search for the better move in a limited amount of time. What are you doing right now? You are using a computer as a tool for learning.

§ Chess and Mathematics. You don't have to be a genius to figure this one out. 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. And you use your head to calculate, not some little machine.

§ Chess and Research. There are millions of chess resources out there for every aspect of the game. You can even collect your own chess library. In life, is it important to know how to find, organize and use boundless amounts of information. Chess gives you a perfect example and opportunity to do just that.

§ Chess and Art. In the Great Soviet Encyclopedia chess is defined as "an art appearing in the form of a game." If you thought you could never be an artist, chess proves you wrong. Chess enables the artist hiding within you to come out. 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. As a chess artist you will have an original style and personality.

§ Chess and Psychology. Chess is a test of patience, nerves, will power 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. For all those reasons mentioned above and more, chess playing kids do better at school and therefore have a better chance to succeed in life.

§ Chess opens up the world for you. You don't need to be a high ranked player to enter big important competitions. Even tournaments such as the US Open and the World Open welcome players of all strengths. Chess provides you with plenty of opportunities to travel not only all around the country but also around the world. Chess is a universal language and you can communicate with anyone over the checkered plain.

§ Chess enables you to meet many interesting people. You will make life-long friendships with people you meet through chess.

§ Chess is cheap. You don't need big fancy equipment to play chess. In fact, all you may need is your computer! (And we really hope you have one of those, or else something fishy is going on here.) It is also good to have a chess set at home to practice with family members, to take to a friend's house or even to your local neighborhood park to get everyone interested in the game.

§ CHESS IS FUN! Dude, 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. You always have so much to look forward to. Every game you are the general of an army and you alone decide the destiny of your soldiers. You can sacrifice them, trade them, pin them, fork them, lose them, defend them, or order them to break through any barriers and surround the enemy king. You've got the power! To summarize everything in three little words-Chess is Everything!

GM A. Kogan

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Why chess deserves a place in schools


Artwork by Mike Magnan

Why chess deserves a place in schools
In Armenia all six-year-olds study chess; in UK schools it 'fell off a cliff' in the 1980s. But its educational benefits are plentiful
Jonathan Calder
guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 7 February 2012 13.30 EST

Primary school children in Armenia have more to contend with than just the three Rs. From the age of six, they all study chess as a separate subject for two hours a week. Chess is important to the very identity of this landlocked little country. Armenia suffered massacres and repression in the 20th century and has recently experienced an economic collapse. Yet in the 1960s, it provided the Soviet Union with one of its succession of world champions in the shape of Tigran Petrosian. A master of defence, his relentless grinding down of opponents made him the Geoffrey Boycott of the chessboard. And today, Armenia – with a population of just 3 million – holds the men's world team title.

So it was no surprise when an official of the Armenian education ministry told the Associated Foreign Press that teaching chess in schools would "create a solid basis for the country to become a chess superpower". But there is more to it than that: Armenia is one of a growing number of nations hoping to see wider educational benefits from encouraging chess in schools. India, Turkey and Norway have all made similar moves recently, and a summary of research produced by the Quad Cities Chess Club in America talks of enhanced mental abilities and an improvement in conventional schoolwork.

This is not a new idea. The Soviet dominance of the game was rooted in the new regime's embrace of chess immediately after the revolution. The game was seen as a cheap way to bring culture to the masses and display the new state's superiority to the decadent capitalist west. "We must organise shock brigades of chess players and begin the immediate realisation of a Five-Year Plan for chess," declared Nikolai Krylenko, the father of Soviet chess – some years before Stalin had him arrested and shot.

The international master and chess journalist Malcolm Pein, a gentler soul, is one of those who want to see the game flourish again in British schools. "There is no other activity that costs so little to organise and that cuts across so many barriers," he says. "Age, sex, race, religion … they mean nothing in chess. Anyone can enjoy it. Around 500 million people in 167 countries play the game and only football can rival that. Yet it has long been in decline in our schools."

Two years ago, Pein's organisation, Chess in Schools and Communities, launched a pilot programme involving 60 primary schools and 6,000 children. By 2015 it aims to have introduced the game to 17,000 schools and to have a million children playing. It is an ambitious target, but so far they are on track. Chess is still played by many British children, and Pein praises the Delancey UK Schools Chess Challenge. However, his impression is that many of the 2,000 schools that take part come from the private sector.

Does this mean British chess has always been confined to a social elite? Pein suggests not. Talking about the match held by radio between Great Britain and the Soviet Union in 1946, he says: "Yes, the British team were all Oxbridge types – probably because everyone else was too busy earning a living. But if you look at photographs of the audience, they don't look particularly middle class." My own experience as a member of the feared Market Harborough team of the 1980s bears this out. When we won a trophy, it would be engraved with the names of all its previous holders. Until the 1960s these were overwhelmingly works or company teams: after that they barely featured. Looking at those trophies was like discovering a lost culture.

Chess held on for longer in state schools. Pein dates its decline – "it fell off a cliff" – to the 1980s, a decade that saw the narrowing of the curriculum and a subsequent disaffection among teachers. But it may not be too late to reverse that decline, because the memory of the benefits and pleasures of chess lingers. "When I talk to headteachers," says Pein, "they often say: 'We always had a chess club when I was at school. Why haven't we got one now?'"

Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Lessons for Life in 64 Squares


Lessons for Life in 64 Squares
Beloved in Armenia, chess becomes a mandatory part of the country’s curriculum.
by Sona Kocharyan

18 January 2012

YEREVAN | Arbi Khachatouryan teaches chess for a living, not an unusual job in a country where chess masters are treated like sports stars.

Khachatouryan, 30, works at the state-run Chess Academy of Armenia, but in September he began giving lessons twice a week at a primary school in Yerevan. He says he enjoys seeing second-graders’ relish for checkmating their classmates.

Not only their classmates. Grigor Gevorgyan, one of Khachatouryan’s students, revels in his newfound skill, boasting, “My grandfather is the best chess player in the world and I once mated him.”

But it is a class, after all, and there’s more to it than the thrill of conquest, Khachatouryan says. “Every day we start by going over the rules taught during the previous lesson. The children are eager to start their games, but revision is very important, too.”

Khachatouryan is not the only chess player teaching in Armenian public schools. In fact, since September more than 1,000 expert players and chess-savvy schoolteachers have been instilling the rules of the ancient game to 7-year-olds.

Armenia became the world’s first country to teach chess in every primary school and to include it in the national curriculum, Education and Science Minister Armen Ashotyan said in August, just before the new school year began and chess became a compulsory subject for second-graders.

“In the past Armenia often drew on the experiences of leading countries when making education reforms. Because of this innovation, the situation has changed. Now the eyes of the global educational community are on us,” Ashotyan said.

In 2010, the government tasked the Chess Academy with setting up a course. The Education Ministry experimented with teaching chess in two Yerevan schools in spring 2011 before recommending the program be expanded nationwide at a cost of 600 million drams ($1.5 million) in the 2011-2012 school year. The academy is responsible for writing textbooks and manuals and training chess teachers.

The academy even produced a psychology handbook to help chess teachers better understand how young children think and learn.

All 1,287 Armenian primary schools where second-grade classes are offered are taking part in the chess program, according to the Education Ministry. There are about 35,000 second-graders this year, all taking twice-weekly chess lessons. One lesson is an addition to their normal program and one replaces a physical education session.

Most of the new chess teachers are chess experts, and they are joined by teachers of math, informatics, and physical education, according to program organizer Varsine Manandyan of the Chess Academy.

After going through training sessions and seminars, aspiring chess teachers had to take an exam before 1,150 of them were hired for terms ranging from one to three years.

Chess experts do not expect every Armenian youngster to become a lifelong player, but they say the subject can help children in other areas of school and life.

“Six or seven is the best age for children to start learning chess,” says Tigran Petrosian, a 27-year-old grandmaster, no relation to the Tigran Petrosian who was world chess champion in the 1960s. “I also took my first steps into the field at the age of 6.”

Some chess instructors think the game will help children better understand subjects such as algebra, geometry, and logic.

“This game develops other values. The child learns to think, to make decisions, to play an honest game, to win and lose,” Chess Academy director Smbat Lputian says.

Armenians have an enviable record in the annals of modern chess. The country’s latest honor came last summer when the Armenian team led by Levon Aronian, the world's second-ranked player, won the world team chess championship. The Armenian team was heavily weighted with players who had won two consecutive world Chess Olympiads, in 2006 and 2008.

Chess has been among the country’s most popular pastimes since the original Tigran Petrosian became world champion in 1963 by beating one of the greatest Soviet players, Mikhail Botvinnik. Petrosian successfully defended his title in 1966 against Boris Spassky, finally losing it to Spassky in 1969.

“I was a little boy of 8, living in the small city of Meghri” at the time, writer Mesrop Harutyunyan says, recalling how Petrosian’s achievements set off a chess boom in Armenia. “I remember that everyone in town followed his matches and discussed every single move he made. It was like that not just in my city, but the whole country.”

Memories of past glory help explain why the government’s decision to teach chess in schools met with wide support. Another is that the country’s powerful president, Serzh Sargsyan, is also the chairman of the Armenian Chess Federation and liked the idea when Lputian, the federation’s vice president, suggested it.

The program has also been praised by educators, teachers, and parents, and Lputian says countries such as Russia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia have expressed interest in adopting it.

“My daughter takes painting classes twice a week. She’s also studying piano in a music school. So she wouldn’t have time to start learning chess if the school didn’t make it possible for her,” says Lilit Hakobyan of Yerevan, the mother of a second-grade student.

Gayane Saroukhanyan, a primary school principal in Yerevan, says the program is popular with her students’ parents. “The parents of third- and fourth-graders wish their children were also learning the subject, but in my opinion, this should be a gradually developing process,” she said.

And it will be. Compulsory chess lessons will be extended to the third grade next year and to the fourth grade in the 2013-2014 school year, according to Education Minister Ashotyan.

Article and photos by Sona Kocharyan, a journalist in Yerevan.

Source: http://www.tol.org

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Chess has proved its benefits


The virtues of chess
Published: October 16

There are many reasons to be excited about the promotion of chess to District children. It reminds us that they still make games the way they used to and that those games have benefits too significant to ignore.

More than 30 countries have made chess a required part of the curriculum. In those countries, children more frequently possess stronger abilities to recognize patterns. Chess players learn not just logic and patience but creativity and deliberation. Research has shown that children’s test scores improved significantly when they took chess classes, and other studies indicate that students’ self-esteem rises and their self-image improves.

We should use chess to forge intellectual and intercultural connections with others of diverse backgrounds. Chess has proved its benefits. It’s our move.

Source: http://www.washingtonpost.com

Monday, October 17, 2011

Chess in the curriculum: Teach them Math, Science, and Chess


Maybe Teach Them Math, Science and Chess

By JAMES WARREN
Published: October 15, 2011

The 120 elementary school children sat so quietly and intently that you might have assumed this was a mass detention period.

But it was chess, not confinement, in an Oak Brook hotel ballroom on Columbus Day. And the lessons learned might assist school leaders everywhere, including those attempting a systemwide resuscitation for Rahm Emanuel, Chicago’s very disciplined, if impatient, mayor.

“My dream is to get in front of education decision makers and convince them to make chess part of the curriculum for K through second grade,” said Susan Polgar, the star of the show. “That’s when thinking patterns and habits are formed. It should be mandatory, like physical education.”

Ms. Polgar, 42, was a Hungarian chess prodigy taught by her psychologist father after she stumbled on chess pieces in a closet at home. At age 4, she stunned Budapest by winning the 11-and-under category in the city championships, sitting on phone books and pillows to reach across the board.

She was the first woman to become a grandmaster and the first to qualify, in 1996, for what was still known as the Men’s World Championship. She was one of the three highest-ranked female players for more than two decades, traveling the world and winding up fluent in seven languages.

I’d made my way to the Susan Polgar Foundation’s World Open Championship for Boys and Girls with an ulterior motive: to explore why boys dominate every class or tournament to which chess-ignorant me has taken my 7-year-old son.

“It’s interesting,” said Ms. Polgar. “Socially, I think, they’re not supported enough, so in general girls drop out of chess by fourth and fifth grades,” she said as 5-to-9-year-olds competed nearby.

When she was a girl, “it was very much ingrained that women were not able to play,” Ms. Polgar said. “A lot of experts and elite players believed that we were not physically able to do it, our brain was not big enough or that we couldn’t keep quiet long enough.”

She became an advocate for girls, especially through the Susan Polgar Foundation, which she founded while living in New York. She’s now in Lubbock, Tex., with her husband and their two children, where she runs the Susan Polgar Institute for Chess Excellence at Texas Tech University.

The foundation supports chess for boys and girls, but especially girls, and sponsors events nationwide. The institute lures young players, with the university offering scholarships and excelling in college tournaments.

Ms. Polgar’s mantra is that chess teaches discipline, analytical thinking, time management, focus and patience — skills that can be useful throughout life. She cites countries, like Armenia, where chess is either a mandatory part of school curriculums, especially in the early elementary years, or strongly encouraged.

It cuts across socioeconomic divides, exemplified by impressive performances of high-poverty students in Brownsville, Tex., who have whipped privileged Manhattan rivals — “kids who get individual lessons from grandmasters,” she said — and shown how “a boost in self-confidence can change lives.”

Indeed, there is no shortage of hedge fund managers and corporate leaders who are chess players, some of whom link the habits of mind learned at chess with their success. As we fret about China’s economic success, we might note that it’s a growing chess force, including four female world champions in 20 years.

Last week’s tournament in Oak Brook brought children from all over the country; perhaps 70 percent were boys. Many of the children were Asian-Americans, including Ashley Ceohas, 6, of Wilmette, the child of a Chinese-American mother who smilingly swore to me that she was “not a Tiger mom!” as her daughter segued from a chess match to drawing a crowd as she played a nearby piano beautifully.

“She’s aware of there being more boy players,” said her mother, Yijia Ceohas. “But we tell her anything boys can do, girls can do better. And she knows that Susan Polgar’s dad said geniuses are not born but made through hard work.”

My investigation into the gender divide led me to Shiva Maharaj, a private investor who teaches the game throughout the Chicago area, including a free Saturday morning session that my son has attended at the Edgebrook Library on the Northwest Side.

Mr. Maharaj had students competing in Oak Brook and cited an American Girl mentality of parents, referring to the store that sells high-priced dolls and accessories. He sees the parents succumbing to cultural stereotypes of daughters being pretty rather than intellectually empowered.

I’ve watched him teach diverse groups of children, mostly boys, and effectively insist they sit up straight, concentrate, take time to assess problems critically and learn to deal with losing. He offers seemingly creative solutions to challenges faced on the board.

On the heels of the impressive inaugural Chicago Ideas Week, here’s a free idea for its energetic, ambitious promoters: a panel next year on “American Education: Should We Make a Move to Chess?”

Source: http://www.nytimes.com

Monday, September 19, 2011

Chess Benefits The Young And The Old


Artwork by Mike Magnan

Chess Benefits The Young And The Old
Published 09/19/2011 01:50:00 by Dipashri Mutsaddi

Could we look into the head of a Chess player, we should see there a whole world of feelings, images, ideas, emotion and passion” (Alfred Binet)

Chess for the young

Originating in India, the game of chess is known to have great significance in developing the mental ability in kids as is seen from the extensive research done on it. Playing chess helps kids become better students and even great leaders later on in life. Kids who play the game themselves believe that thinking about the different strategies makes their brain ‘learn and grow’ .It also enables them to relax and have fun with friends.

As shown by various studies conducted throughout the world, the game is known to increase spatial, numerical and even verbal aptitude in students. In China, kids showed 15 percent improvement in math and science test scores after starting to play chess. In Venezuela, the’ Learning to think’ project demonstrated that when methodically taught, chess was known to improve the IQ in elementary school children irrespective of their socio economic backgrounds. After a year of playing chess, many kids have demonstrated better self image and self esteem. Experts also think that this game helps children in learning to be patient, and think before acting. One even learns how not to repeat mistakes and spot potential traps. Chess and math both have patterns, so it also helps with pattern recognition too.

Chess for the not-so-young

Chess is also beneficial to the elderly community.

A 2003 report in the New England Journal of Medicine has indicated that chess and other brain activities delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. It has been estimated that by the year 2050, nearly one in every 85 people will be affected by the debilitating disease. Chess is one treatment that experts believe might help delay the onset of the disease as it directly stimulates certain areas of the brain. This stimulation also shifts with the different problems faced in the game. Dr Robert Friedlander, lead scientist of the study has indicated that people who do not exercise their gray cells stand a chance of losing their brain power as they age.

As per the Chinese proverb, "Life is like a game of chess, changing with every move".

Source: http://www.wikipeers.com

Armenia Introduces Chess As Mandatory School Subject


Armenia Introduces Chess As Mandatory School Subject
September 19, 2011

Chess has become a mandatory school subject across Armenia for every child over the age of 6.

School officials in Armenia say the move is aimed at fostering independent strategic thinking among future generations at school, at work, and in society.

The plan took effect beginning with the current academic year. More than 40,000 children in about 1,500 Armenian schools already have received chess textbooks and chess pieces. They are now receiving formal lessons twice a week from 1,200 specially trained and selected teachers.

Vachik Khachaturian, who has been teaching mathematics at school for years, decided to teach chess, too. He says the game is interesting and useful for his young students at Yerevan's Secondary School No. 125.

"First of all, chess is a game and it is fun. At the same time, it is an intellectual game," Khachaturian says. "Along with mastering the game the children learn to think independently. This [independence] makes the game interesting for them, especially at their young age."

Armenia already is one of the world's leading chess nations. The country boasts more than 30 grandmasters and gold-medal winners at the International Chess Olympiads in 2006 and 2008.

President Serzh Sarkisian presides over Armenia's Chess Academy and the national Chess Federation. He also has been involved during the past three years in developing the plan to teach chess in the nation's schools.

The director of Armenia's Chess Academy, grandmaster Smbat Lputian, initiated the project to introduce chess as a mandatory school subject. He says he strongly believes in the positive impact that playing chess can have upon children of a young age.

"Chess is an amazing game, amazing as I see only positive things in it," Lputian says. "It is a very fair game and this is the most important thing."

Sitting amid chessboards in the academy's tournament room, Lputian explains that he sees chess as a way to develop the ability of children to think independently.

"It makes you think and map out a strategy and while working on it, you need to assess your every move in advance and find the right one," Lputian says. "And with every move you need to make a decision, the whole game is about making decisions and these decisions should be primarily correct. The game makes you more accustomed to making serious decisions in difficult situations."

Chess also is regarded by most Armenians as an inclusive and universal activity, capable of uniting people of different ages and physical abilities.

Nevertheless, the project has encountered some opposition in the former Soviet republic.

Psychologist Ruzanna Gharibian is a supporter. She says playing chess helps the children not only to improve intellectual abilities, but also to develop essential personality characteristics that high-tech computer games are unable to provide.

"You know it is much better to create an atmosphere of real moral victory [for a child] by giving them these chessmen rather than giving them a computer and letting them experience victory through different aggressive [computer] games," Gharibian says.

Gharibian says playing the game of chess helps children develop responsibility and accountability for their actions.

Armenian chess players are greeted by thousands of people in Yerevan's Liberty Square to celebrate their victory in the 2011 World Chess Team Championship in July.

"You make a move and you bear a certain responsibility for the move you made," Gharibian says. "While playing computer games, children do not feel responsibility for their actions."

Studies conducted by Western scientists and chess masters in primary schools have confirmed that learning chess at an early age improves the reading performance of children, strengthens their problem solving skills, and has a positive effect on concentration, memory and calculation.

Source: http://www.rferl.org

Saturday, September 10, 2011

HES Students Learn Game's Nuances


HES Students Learn Game's Nuances
The tournament opens a program that will likely become part of the school year.
By Eileen Oldfield

Students hunched over chess boards in the Hillsborough Elementary School multi-purpose room, contemplating how to crush their opponents.

The student-versus-student matches are an extension of an activity started last year, that is expected to continue into the coming school year.

“It’s an initiative that I really want to bring into the school this year, so this is a great way to kick off this,” Hillsborough Elementary School Principal Mike Volpe said.

The gaming skills go beyond simply knowing how to move the chess pieces, however. The strategy aspect of the game allows the kids to use critical thinking that the can also apply to the classroom.

“There’s a lot of research out there that says chess helps kids think critically and creatively,” Volpe said. “That’s what we want them to do in school.”

The matches broke students into 10 groups of four students each, with each of the children playing each other once. Parents served as judges during the night, and Volpe assigned a thirty-minute time limit on each match, to prevent overly long bouts.

More here.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Armenia moves forward with chess in all schools


Chess becomes compulsory subject in all secondary schools of Armenia from second grade
August 30, 2011 | 18:47

YEREVAN. - From September 1, chess will become a compulsory subject in all secondary schools of Armenia, said Armenian Minister of Education Armen Ashotyan and deputy chairman of the Armenian Chess Federation Smbat Lputyan in a joint press conference on Tuesday.

"Thus, Armenia becomes the first country in the world, where chess is included into state educational standards for secondary schools. In 2012, chess will be taught in 3rd grade, and in 2013 - in 4th. In 2013, the subject will be introduced in an elementary school in full," said the minister.

According to him, a textbook on chess, a special notebook, teachers’ textbook and a collection of exercises for practical work has already been published. The minister noted that by the end of this week all schools will receive a set of chess tables, boards and other necessary supplies. Chess classes will be set up in all schools.

AMD 900 million (about $ 2.5 million) has been allocated from the State Budget to introduce this subject.

Source: http://news.am

Friday, August 19, 2011

Big move for chess in Chennai


Artwork by Mike Magnan

Chess to be made compulsory for students in 7-17 age group
PTI | 03:08 PM,Aug 27,2011

Chennai, Aug 27 (PTI): The chess playing fraternity in Tamil Nadu today welcomed Chief Minister Jayalalithaa's announcement that the sport would be made compulsory in schools in the 7-17 age group.

Jayalalithaa made an announcement to the effect in the assembly, stating that the sport 'will enhance the efficiency and thinking capacity among students.' K Muralimohan, General Secretary Tamil Nadu State Chess Association said, "students who learn chess systematically develop abilities of concentration, planning, calculation and analysis. The game improves a person's patience, determination and withstanding power in times of trouble".

He said the Chief Minister's decision would definitely give a huge boost to the game in the state and enable Tamil Nadu excel in the sport in the world. Meanwhile, the Chennai District Chess Association also welcomed Jayalalithaa's announcement yesterday and described it as a 'wonderful step to develop the game in Tamil Nadu.' "We the Chess fraternity wholeheartedly welcome this excellent move in promoting the game," K Ganesan, Association Secretary said.

Source: http://ibnlive.in.com

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The advantages of playing chess


Artwork by Mike Magnan

The advantages of playing chess
Niru Agarwal

GAME PLAN Introducing children to chess is a good move towards their mental development, writes Niru Agarwal

When it comes to their children, parents are often on the lookout for any form of activity that will allow them to grow in a holistic manner. When schools open their doors, extra-curricular activities are generally centered on outdoor sports, public speaking, music, debate and the like. Games such as chess were relegated to the background because one wasn’t sure how this could actually help in the growth of the child, intellectually as well as physically.

If you are to delve into the details of the game, you will see that chess is a game of strategy. The fact that every piece on the board has a unique form of movement and is a part of the whole, makes the game complex. Introducing a child to chess allows the child to recognise complexity. There are numerous ways in which the pieces can be moved, and analysing each move enhances the child’s mathematical as well as analytical capabilities. In fact, children who play chess are able to solve mathematical problems mentally instead of using a calculator to do so. The same goes for the influence of chess on the understanding of science. Going forward, when faced with complex exams like the CAT, GRE and IELTS, a child will be in a better position.

Chess is one game that teaches a child patience and willpower. It improves a child’s ability to interact with his opponent albeit in a silent way. This enhances confidence as well as self esteem and makes one a good listener. Listening can go a long way in improving interpersonal skills and help in business negotiations.

An important feature one will learn in chess is the ability to judge body language. Being able to read expressions when a game is in progress is what will help one plan in advance. This, while applicable to the moves on the chess board are equally important in one’s life. Being able to anticipate issues will allow you to plan in advance and this will hold you in good stead no matter what situation you are faced with. Planning ahead has some great rewards, while lack of planning can result in a check mate.

Chess involves several numerical combinations. Unlike any other game chess is one where there are numerous ways to reach the end result. Each game is different and there are several numerical possibilities to a strategy. Having to deal with this will develop a scientific way of thinking which is very essential when faced with multiple solutions to a problem. Being able to quickly analyse the effects of each move is what will enhance a child’s mental ability.

Chess has also proven its ability to calm aggressive children. The need to sit still in one place and concentrate on the board has brought a calming effect on a number of children. This has allowed them to grown into calmer individuals with a stable head on their shoulders.

Looking at things from the health perspective, chess also helps students who may have sustained certain physical disabilities from birth or by accident. Because of the movement of pieces in the left, right, forward, backward and diagonal ways, fine motor skills are developed. Chess is also a game of experience. If you want to win successive games, you will have to learn from your earlier mistakes. This means remembering all the moves you made. Memory is another thing that chess helps improve. Chess has also proven capabilities of calming frayed nerves and therefore is also used extensively as recreational therapy. One’s attention span as well as observation powers are highly sensitised with the game. In order to understand how your opponent is going to play, you need to watch and remember his or her moves and try and find a pattern in it. This is where cognitive skills are enhanced and improved on.

Chess has a number of benefits that may not be as easily perceived as the physical advantages of football and cricket. Its effects are subjective and one that can be observed over a period of time. Introducing children to the game at a young age will allow them to grasp and understand the nuances of the game much earlier on. You will be doing them a favour in the long run.

Source: http://www.deccanherald.com

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Should chess be taught in school?



Should chess be taught in school?

10 May 2011 Last updated at 05:40 ET Help It is an ancient game which was once used to teach young knights and princes about military strategy.

But should every child in Britain be expected to learn chess, while they are still at primary school?

There is growing support for the idea of putting the game on the national curriculum.

Tim Muffett reports from a primary school in Birmingham.

Watch the video report here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-13343943

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Kids flock to chess


Students flock to strategic game
Chess clubs taking off in Frederick County
by Margarita Raycheva | Staff Writer

Forget cutting-edge video and computer games.

Some elementary school students in Frederick County are getting hooked on a board game that was created more than 1,400 years ago.

Chess, which has captivated millions of people across the world for centuries, is now getting a foothold among a growing number of Frederick County elementary school students.

At Lincoln Elementary, an after-school chess team meets Wednesdays, and at least 16 students in second through fifth grade spend hours hunched over their chess boards, perfecting their moves, honing their strategies, and learning to think ahead of their opponents.

Dressed in the chess club's blue T-shirts, which display their victories over opponents from other schools, students take pride in the game, and are always ready to learn new tips and tricks to help them win with fewer moves.

"Chess is a brain game," said second-grader Vladimir Flores. "It makes your brain strong."

The chess team at Lincoln Elementary grew out of a small recess program that started seven years ago. But the game took off among students, who started teaching their classmates and whipping out chessboards in the cafeteria after class.

Today, the chess club draws in boys and girls of all academic skills, and Janet Manning, the team advisor, has to run a different program for students who are still learning the game.

"We start from as young as kindergarten," Manning said.

Lincoln Elementary, however, is not alone, and some other elementary schools are seeing an increased interest in the brainy game, which according to some researchers can help students improve their academic performance.

At North Frederick Elementary, which started a chess club in 2009, parents and volunteers are struggling to accommodate all students who want to play chess, though more than 150 students have participated in club activities and competitions.

Yellow Springs Elementary also started a chess club last year with an initial enrollment of 45 students, said Gary Waguespack, the parent volunteer who coordinates the club.

Based on the widespread interest, chess club organizers have united their efforts this year and created the countywide Frederick Scholastic Chess League. The organization aims to promote chess across the county, provide resources for school-based chess clubs, and for the first time allow students from different Frederick County schools to play in organized tournaments.

"The idea now is to promote chess on a scholastic level," said Waguespack, who started the league after he founded the chess club at his children's school.

"I realized that there wasn't much going on with chess in the entire county," he said.

Though the league is in its developmental stages, it already includes chess teams from five schools:?Lincoln, North Frederick, Yellow Springs, Valley, and Monocacy Valley Montessori Public Charter School.

Organizers at the league now are hoping that more schools would join in for the coming year.

The league held its spring invitational competition in March, and will hold the first countywide chess tournament on June 1 at West Frederick Middle School.

Waguespack has even more ambitious long-term goals for the league. He wants to bring chess to Frederick County middle and high schools, creating opportunities for more students to use chess to expand their thinking and exercise their analytical skills.

Using chess as a scholastic tool is not a new idea, and Waguespack points to a number of chess proponents who argue that it can help improve students' concentration, memory, analytical skills and even raise test scores.

In nearly 30 countries around the world, chess is a mandatory part of school curriculum, and according to the American Chess Institute, a number of studies suggest that playing chess can be related to higher test scores for students.

A study in Texas, for example, found that non-honors elementary students who participated in school chess clubs showed twice the improvement in reading and mathematics between third and fifth grades compared to non-chess players, according to the American Chess Institute.

And in New Brunswick, Canada, when schools started using chess to teach logic in grades two through seven, the average problem solving scores of students increased from 62 percent to 81 percent, according to the American Chess Institute's website.

In Frederick County, scholastic chess is at its budding stages, but teachers, parents and volunteers agree that children benefit from the game.

For Donna Scherer, a mother at Yellow Springs Elementary, there is no doubt that being in the chess club is helping her 9-year-old son Andrew learn sportsmanship, as well as problem-solving skills and analytical thinking.

"He is in advanced math classes and I've seen improvement in his reading," Scherer said.

Andrew learned to play chess from his older brother at the age of 4, when Scherer's family lived in Britain. There, it was not unusual for elementary schools to lay out chessboards even for students in pre-school, Scherer said.

So when the chess club opened in his school, Andrew made Scherer sign him up immediately.

"He is playing with fifth-graders now," she said. "And they all love to play. It is a proud day when they get to wear that shirt."

Reina Farmer, another parent at Yellow Springs, agreed. Farmer said it is difficult to tell if her daughter Allison is getting good grades because of playing chess or the other way around. But she is confident in one thing – her daughter loves to play.

"It helps with her self-esteem," Farmer said. "She really enjoys it. She won't let me miss anything that has to do with chess."

At Lincoln Elementary, Manning has noticed that her top chess players are not always the top achievers in class. That is a great confidence booster, showing students that they can be leaders in different areas, Manning said.

The game is also teaching students to take a defeat gracefully. But while they enjoy a good win, it is not uncommon to see the two opponents sitting together after the game trying to analyze their moves and figure out what led to the defeat.

And for Manning's students, there is no doubt that playing chess is exercising their brains.

"Chess is a strategy game," said Bernadette Jones, a Lincoln Elementary fourth-grader who has been on the school chess team for two years.

"You learn to think ahead," she said.

Source: http://www.gazette.net

Chess can improve academic performance according to studies


Studies show Chess can improve academic performance

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Chess in curriculum helps school hone kids’ abilities


Artwork by Mike Magnan

Chess in curriculum helps school hone kids’ abilities
Published: Thursday, Apr 28, 2011, 9:26 IST
By Team DNA | Place: Bangalore | Agency: DNA

Yes! Chess, the addictive board game, forms a part of the curriculum at the Green Wood High School, Bangalore. Being the first in the city to take this step, the school authorities believe that chess practised from a young age as a sport or a favourite pastime cultivates good habits among students. It not only helps them gain expertise in the game, but also guides them for a better, brighter, and quality life.

“Chess has been a part of our school curriculum for seven years. Since chess is an indoor game and does not require much equipment, it is easy to incorporate it into the curriculum. It helps students immensely,” said Niru Agarwal, director of the school.

Learning chess is compulsory for students of nursery to Class VII, while students of Class VIII to X can learn it by choice. Highly-qualified chess tutors, who are a part of the teaching staff, teach chess at the school. It is taught like any other subject, with 3-4 classes a week for all grades.

“Chess improves a child’s logical reasoning, patience, concentration power and mathematical ability. It also induces competitive spirit as students try to outplay one another, and enhances their decision-making ability,” Agarwal said, when asked how the game contributes in improving children’s cognitive skills.

“Our students have won many prizes at inter-school and state-level championships. This has boosted their confidence and the students are responding brilliantly to this initiative. Parents are also very happy,” she added.

“Children have the unique ability of learning things quickly and grasping them. Once a child is taught the basics of chess and encouraged to play, they develop an interest for the game and will only better themselves. In their pursuit to learn more about the intricacies of the game, they would be anxious to read more about the grandmasters, the different types of games, tactics and strategies and in the process, they cultivate the habit of reading,” said Santosh Desai, of Green Wood High School.

K Somnath, a national chess arbiter and tutor at the school said, “The teaching methodology differs from grade to grade. Nursery students are introduced to the basic concepts of chessboard and chessmen, while the high school students are judged on their playing ability. Playing chess naturally compliments academics as it sharpens students’ concentration and improves their IQ.”
Speaking about the students response, he said, “The kids are enjoying the programme very much, and they look forward to all the classes.”

The game of chess is part of compulsory school curriculum in countries like Russia. In India, Gujarat has incorporated chess into the state school curriculum. Chess, with each passing day is gaining more prominence as a sport globally. Moreover, the trend of incorporating it into school curriculum is expected to catch on in the coming days.

Source: DNA India http://www.dnaindia.com

Chess in education debate


Artwork by Mike Magnan

Should all kids be forced to play chess?
Armenia is making the game mandatory for schoolchildren. Will that make them smarter?