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".


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.


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.