I work part-time teaching in a private education centre. We provide additional support to students in Maths and English from Primary through to GCSE and beyond. It’s a lovely and very rewarding place to work. In the Summer, we run a more informal Summer School. It’s not really a school at all, as that would imply that it is run like a school. It is more an opportunity to try out new skills and learn something a little bit different. For the past few years I have been running a Chess Club at Summer School that is very popular. I was taught chess by my Great-Grandfather and I used to play it at home and for my school team. Both my children play it and they really enjoy it.
Chess seems to be disappearing from our schools these days and it is a great shame. My experience is that students really enjoy learning how to play. We don’t just play games. We learn strategies and techniques. It is quite a difficult task to try and get students to understand that the objective of the game is not to see how many of your opponent’s pieces you can take, but to checkmate your opponent’s King. To do this, then students need to learn how to make moves with a strong purpose and guide their thinking-process in the right way. There are many benefits to learning and playing chess on a regular basis.
Chess enables both our right and left sides of the brain to work. In a German study conducted in 2010 concerning the mechanism and neural basis of object and pattern recognition, researchers showed that chess players use both sides of the brain- both logic and creativity- in playing.
Chess raises your IQ – Intelligence Quotient This was shown by a study of four thousand students in Venezuela over a short period of four months.
Chess helps to prevent Alzheimer’s The brain is a muscle and playing chess is a great way to exercise that muscle. An unexercised muscle will lose strength.
Chess grows dendrites Dendrites are a short-branched extension of a nerve cell, along which impulses are transmitted to the cell body. They are like antennae picking up signals from other parts of the brain. Chess causes dendrites to grow and thus the more signals you will pick up.
Chess improves memory To play better chess then you need to remember openings, endings and which positions can help in these situations. You also need to remember the moves of your opponent. All these help to improve the memory.
Chess increases creativity Chess uses the right side of the brain which is responsible for creativity and artistic thinking.
Chess increases problem-solving skills SATS and GCSE Maths now place a greater emphasis on problem solving. Chess develops confidence in students as it teaches them how to problem solve.
Chess improves reading skills A study in 1991 found that students who played chess had an increased performance in reading.
Chess teaches planning and foresight One of the last parts of the brain to develop is the prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain responsible for planning, judgment, and self-control. Strategy games like chess promote prefrontal cortex development and help students make better decisions in life.
Chess improves concentration. Chess requires a great deal of intense concentration. A match could be lost just by not concentrating for a split second. Many worldwide studies of students have shown that those who play chess, are more able to focus and maintain that focus.
So, there you go. There are so many significant benefits to playing chess that one almost wonders why it is not a compulsory part of the curriculum nowadays? Perhaps things might change if enough students start to ask to play it in school?
If you fancy learning to play chess yourself, then there are some great websites to help you and a wealth of tutorial videos on YouTube.