Chess Should be Required in School and Here’s Why

Rook to the eighth position. Checkmate. Chess is the ultimate game of intellect, and winning a match against a worthy opponent is an exhilarating experience. Due to my lack of skill in the game of chess, I do not get this sensation very frequently. My father is a “Master,” and my best buddy is an “Expert.”

In other words, both of them are excellent. If I were to play 100 games against each of them, I would lose every single one.

Chess is still a popular game worldwide, but it is taken more seriously in eastern Europe. For example, the Bulgarian National Olympic Committee and the Russian head of the World Chess Federation, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, have lobbied for chess to be recognized as an Olympic sport. Armenia mandated the chess study for all students above six in September 2011. Second graders in the DW-TV news footage below!

Perhaps the Armenians are on to something after all, after all! According to a new study in psychology, chess has been linked to improved cognitive skills, better ability to cope and solve problems, and even better development of children’s socioemotional well-being. The association might be attributable to a third component, or that intelligent, mature children are more likely to play chess in the first place, as this was observational cohort research.

For example, “Chess is good for developing logical reasoning skills,” the math/chess teacher states in this video. It teaches youngsters how to make wise decisions, improves their willpower, encourages success, and teaches them how to handle loss. “No other topic in the curriculum can do all of this.”

Chess improves not only cognitive abilities but also imparts valuable life lessons to young players. Out of some erroneous, politically correct belief that we should never harm anyone’s feelings, we often award medals to the victors and losers of sporting events — or do not keep the score.

The fact is that even in sports, you might lose. That is what students in Armenian schools learn. A vital lesson should be taught at an early age, and it should be reinforced frequently.

When it comes to the game of chess, it is impossible to predict how each game will turn out. There are 500 billion different places in the game of checkers, which is a game for cerebral wimps (like me).

In 2007, researchers revealed that a computer had solved the game. (The result is always a tie if either side makes no mistakes.) In contrast to checkers, however, chess is far more difficult to master. I doubt a machine can solve the game because of its complexity.

For many parents, the quality of their children’s K-12 education is of grave concern. The game of chess might be used as a tool to teach students about logic and memory.

The truth is, I should be resuming my practice of the sport. Knowing that 7-year-old Armenians might easily defeat me on the chessboard is a little humiliating for me.

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