Benefits of Chess
In the European Union, chess is often given a similar importance to sports in most schools, and is frequently considered
a requirement. In fact, in 30 countries around the world, chess is part of the required school curriculum, and with good reason.
Susan Polgar, World Champion in chess, claims studies suggest that students who participated in chess improved their test
scores by 17.3% compared to a 4.6% increase in students who engaged in other outside activities. These numbers are by no means
exaggerated; in another study in China, people who engaged in chess had a 15% increase in math and science scores, while studies
in the former Zaire, Belgium, Venezuela, Canada, and the United States all showed that children participating in chess had
better math, spacial, and verbal skills, as well as general standardized testing, and can actually raise the IQ of participants,
no matter the final skill level attained.
All of these studies suggest that chess has a great amount to offer in terms of helping students form planning skills and
discipline, as well as mathematical proficiency, but this is just the beginning. Besides the gained recall, abstract reasoning,
and judgement skills, other studies prove that students who engaged in chess had greatly improved self confidence than before
starting the program. This particular aspect has been used to fuel programs in California and New York that work to engage
at risk students in chess in order to rescue them from gangs and drugs, as well as other negative behavior. In fact, countless
anecdotes from educators, parents, and researchers alike marvel at the levels of focus that chess provides for students from
all walks of life, some of whom had previously exhibited severe concentration skills.
In addition to all of the intellectual benefits of chess, National Geographic in 1956 detailed a case in which chess skills
could actually gain a man a wife. Legends state that in some areas of Italy in the Middle Ages, men would, rather than duel,
play chess to win the hand of a woman. In 1956, a particular town in Italy, Marostica, decided to revive the legend, offering
men the chance to play for a woman’s hand.
Overall, chess has been shown to provide nothing but benefits for people from every age who play with any sort of regularity.
Chess forces one to develop logical thinking and problem solving skills, independence, and mathematical and abstract reasoning
qualities. In addition, students who engaged in chess had markedly improved social skills and discourse ability, partly from
the teamwork utilized to study the game, and partly from the focus that being a clever chess player requires. All in all,
it’s a great game, and a great tutor in life skills.
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