“I am 1500 years old. I am a sport, and I have been played by the likes of Napoleon Bonaparte, Ludwig van Beethoven, Albert Einstein, and Leonardo Di Caprio. I am trending on Youtube, Netflix, Twitch. Grand masters have been writing thousands of books about me.
I am Chess.”
We often hear that chess is the sport of the mind, and is beneficial in many ways for its players. But how can a game actually help anyone outside of the board ? Is it really a great educational tool for kids ? Here are 10 of the many benefits chess can bring to young kids.
Benefits of Chess for Kids
- Develop logic: Logic is mandatory in chess. There are good and bad moves, good and bad ideas, and making irrational choices will set you up for defeat. If so, you can learn which moves were bad and why, and learn from those mistakes, and see the results of this newly acquired logic in your next games.
- Develop critical thinking: You need to make tough decisions several times during a game. It develops the kids ability to assess priorities, pros and cons, and has been proven in an Australian study to improve risk management.
- Develop creativity: If you only think of one solution, one move, one plan at all times, you’ll never be able to surprise your opponent or even to find the best move. By constantly challenging his ideas, kids start thinking out of the box, often with success. It stimulates its imagination time and time again.
- Increases concentration: You can find a flurry of studies showing how chess improves concentration, but I’d just relate to a very common situation I encounter when teaching: while solving a puzzle, the student after 5 seconds analysis has a success rate 25%, and it increases to 75% after 20 seconds. Once they realize that, they start putting more thought into it. And in a fast-paced world where the span of attention is minimal, chess is a great weapon to stimulate focus and concentration again.
- Increases memory: A lot of chess patterns need to be learned, in the opening, middle game and even endgame. It stimulates memory over and over. It’s a beautiful combination of switching between memory, creativity and logic.
- Develop problem solving skills: Imagine trying to open a locked door, and you have 10 different keys to try. You’ll try first the keys that seem to have the right shape, and after each failure you’ll try the next one. Chess is a bit similar, and come to think of it, every problem in life can be analyzed and solved the same way. Chess is just a mirror of life’s problem, and you get to learn this method by practicing chess puzzles.
- Improves Reading Skills: Chess and reading use similar functions such as decoding and analysis, and studies have shown that chess students perform on average 10% better on reading tests than other students
- Teaches Planning and Foresight: In order to win, you need to make up plans, prioritize, follow through, sometimes change plans or even limit damage done. Not to mention to perform better at that, you need to foresee what is the best answer your opponent could possibly do. Altogether, it stimulates smart planning, evaluation, and even putting yourself in one’s shoes.
- Teaches one to win, and to lose: Chess is like many games, you win and you lose. And because it’s a one on one match, there’s no finding excuses: if you win, it’s because you played better, if you lose, you have some adjustments to make. But more importantly, kids quickly learn to be humble in victory and resilient in defeat, as winning or losing is a frequent occurrence in chess tournaments (7 to 9 games can be played in a single afternoon).
- Improve risk management: Once you know main chess principles, it’s a lot about prioritization and risk management. It isn’t rare to consider such statements “Is it worth trading my rook for his knight, granted I’ll open his castle ? Or should I support and push my passed pawn to get a new queen ?”
Chess clearly applies in real life skills, almost like a logic philosophy, and has been proven countless times to improve grades, social and logical skills, especially among the young population.
5 Fun Facts About Chess
- Chess used to be called “Chaturanga”. Back then, bishops used to be elephants and moved differently.
- In French, bishops are actually called “fou” which literally translate as “crazy”
- The first chess computer ever was actually a hoax : a strong player was hiding in the machine and was fooling spectators using a magnet system, making it seem the computer was magically moving pieces.
- Some chess grand masters are able to play up to 20 games at the same time …. Blindfolded !!!
- An old legend states a king was saved by a farmer, and the king offered any request as a thank you. The farmer asked to get one drop of wheat on the first square of the chessboard, then 2 on the 2nd square, 4 on the 3rd one, and to double it up everytime until the 64th square. The king laughed at how few was requested and accepted, but little did he know, he led the kingdom to bankruptcy… Indeed, the total number of grains equals 18,446,744,073,709,551,615 !!
5 Ideas to Improve Your Chess Game in Bangkok
- Watch free content on Youtube (Eric Rozen, Gotham Chess..), or take lessons on Lichess (free chess platform). So many great and free lessons can be found for all levels.
- Check with your school, they might very well have a chess activity !
- Start by working endgames, then middle game tactics, and at last openings. It might seem strange, but the truth is, how good is it to get a good start if you’re unable to finish the game ?
- Enter free online tournaments. There’s no such thing as practice, and if you can accept defeat easily, it is guaranteed you’ll improve in a heartbeat.
- And the most important part, analyze your defeats. It’s not the most fascinating/exciting, but definitely up there when it comes to getting better. It can sometimes help to analyze with the help of a computer, but we recommend better the help of a strong player.
Editors Note: Sébastien is a 32 years old French chess teacher, and is the founder of Happy Pawn Chess Club in Bangkok, which was created to make chess fun for kids. He’s a 3 times team high school French champion, and he’s been teaching chess to kids for over 10 years.
Website : https://www.happypawnchess.com/
Facebook : Happy Pawn Chess Club
WhatsApp : +66 62 363 6695