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Chess is more than Kings, Queens, and Rooks when it comes to learning

Two steely-eyed competitors sit down across from one and other to wage war. Not the type of war where anyone gets hurt, mind you, but a war of strategy and mental toughness.

Chess is the game and checkmate is the objective.

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That’s what approximately 25 students, grades K-12, did at a chess tournament at the Manlius Pebble Hill School in DeWitt Saturday. The competition was, at times, intense but good sportsmanship prevailed, win or lose.

In speaking with several of the parents it became clear to me that these kids not only excel in chess but school as well.

In doing a little research I found that there seems to be a correlation between chess and academic success, especially in math and science.

On the Johns Hopkins School of Education website, Wendi Fischer penned a piece titled Educational Value of Chess.

In it, Fischer, the Scholastic Director of America’s Foundation for Chess, a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing chess into the schools, states the following:

It’s not about Kings, Queens, and Rooks, but rather, quadrants and coordinates, thinking strategically and foreseeing consequences. It’s about lines and angles, weighing options and making decisions. Chess might just be the perfect teaching and learning tool. Since 2000, America’s Foundation for Chess (AF4C) has been working with 2nd and 3rd grade students and their teachers to promote the use of chess as an educational tool.
Research shows, there is a strong correlation between learning to play chess and academic achievement. In 2000, a landmark study found that students who received chess instruction scored significantly higher on all measures of academic achievement, including math, spatial analysis, and non-verbal reasoning ability (Smith and Cage, 2000).

I haven’t played chess in many years but remember the enjoyment of a good match at the kitchen table with my brother. There’s something about chess that makes your brain feel good. I think it’s time to break out the old black and white checkered board and chess pieces and teach my kids how to play.

Maybe we, as parents, should insist that chess be part of the our school system curriculum instead of the common core. Learning should be fun and not something to opt out of.


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