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Chess can help youth to navigate the game of life

Chess can be a silent guide to success for young minds (INL Image)

Praneeta Mahajan
Hamilton, March 13, 2023

Chess is a centuries-old board game that has become increasingly popular in recent years, especially among children and teenagers. The game has been recognised as a tool that can have positive effects on children’s cognitive, social, and emotional development. Chess can be a fun and engaging way for children and youth to develop important skills and qualities such as critical thinking, problem-solving, creativity, patience, perseverance, and sportsmanship.

Why Chess

Studies have shown that children who play chess regularly can improve their mathematical and reasoning abilities, spatial awareness, memory, and concentration. Chess requires players to think ahead and anticipate possible moves and outcomes, which enhances their strategic and analytical thinking skills. It also helps them to develop their visual memory and pattern recognition abilities, which can be useful in many other areas of their lives, such as learning languages, music, and sports.

Chess also promotes social and emotional skills such as communication, respect, empathy, and self-control. Playing chess requires players to interact with others, listen to their opponents, and communicate their thoughts and ideas effectively. It also teaches them to be respectful of their opponents, to accept defeat graciously, and to learn from their mistakes. Chess can be a great way for children to build relationships and form friendships with other children who share their interests.

Chess in India

One country that has recognised the benefits of chess for children in India. Chess has a long history in India and is considered one of the country’s national sports. The earliest form of the game that is now called chess can be dated back to India in the sixth century. Like the modern game, this predecessor, called chaturanga (or catur) was played on an 8×8 grid and featured pieces generally similar to those of modern chess.

In recent years, several Indian chess players have achieved international recognition and success. Viswanathan Anand, known as the “Tiger of Madras,” is one of the greatest chess players of all time, having won the World Chess Championship five times. Anand started playing chess at the age of six and became a Grandmaster at the age of 18. He has been an inspiration to many young chess players in India and around the world.

Another Indian chess player who has made a name for himself is Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu, who became the youngest-ever Grandmaster at the age of 12. He started playing chess at the age of three and has since won numerous national and international tournaments.

The benefits of Chess are long proven and many (INL Image)

Expert Opinion

Experts in the field of child development and education have recognised the benefits of chess for children. Dr Stuart Margulies, a psychologist and educator, has studied the effects of chess on children’s cognitive development and has found that it can have a positive impact on their academic performance. He notes that chess can improve children’s memory, attention span, and ability to think critically and solve problems.

Another expert in the field, Dr Peter Dauvergne, a professor of political science at the University of British Columbia, has studied the social and emotional benefits of chess for children. He notes that chess can help children to develop essential skills such as communication, empathy, and self-control, and can promote positive relationships with others.

According to an article published in Psychology Today, chess is an excellent tool for helping children develop their cognitive abilities. The article explains that “the complexity of the game challenges the brain to recognise patterns, visualise future moves, and use logic and reasoning to develop strategies.”

Chess has also been shown to improve academic performance in children. According to a study conducted by the University of Texas, students who played chess regularly scored significantly higher on math and reading tests than students who did not play chess. The study also found that children who played chess showed an increase in their creativity and problem-solving skills.

Morals of Chess

In his book “The Morals of Chess,” Benjamin Franklin mentioned, “Playing chess is the most ancient and most universal game known among men; for its original is beyond the memory of history, and it has, for numberless ages, been the amusement of all the civilised nations of Asia—the Persians, the Indians, and the Chinese. Europe has had it above a thousand years; the Spaniards have spread it over their part of America.”

“The game of chess is not merely an idle amusement. Several precious qualities of the mind, useful in the course of human life, are to be acquired or strengthened by it. Life is a kind of Chess, in which we have often points to gain, and competitors or adversaries to contend with.”

“We learn by chess the habit of not being discouraged by present appearances in the state of our affairs, the habit of hoping for a favourable change, and that of persevering in the search of resources,” he said.

Chess in New Zealand

According to the Hamilton Chess Club, one of the most popular Chess clubs in the Waikato, “Chess inspires self-motivation. It encourages the search for the best move, the best plan, and the most beautiful continuation out of endless possibilities.  It encourages the everlasting aim towards progress, always steering to ignite the flame of victory.”

One of the Club members said, “Chess shows that success rewards hard work. The more you practice, the better you will 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 must lose hundreds of games before becoming a good player.”

A group of 10-year-olds, Evan, Abir and Austin, who are practising for a regional Chess tournament told Indian Newslink, “We love Chess. There are so many surprise moves, knockouts and excitement. We play every week at our school Chess Club and it is great fun to play and learn.”

Praneeta Mahajan is an Indian Newslink reporter based in Hamilton.

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