Just a quick post today, so have a look at this essay by Alex Beresow, over at Real Clear Science. He is advocating for chess to be a required subject in schools:
In the above video, the math/chess teacher says, “Chess trains logical thinking. It teaches how to make decisions, trains memory, strengthens will power, motivates children to win and teaches them how to deal with defeat. It’s the only school subject that can do all this.”
That is a very interesting insight. Not only does chess help train the brain, but it also teaches children basic life skills. In our culture, we hand out trophies to winners and losers — or neglect to keep score at all — out of some misguided, politically-correct notion that we should never hurt anyone’s feelings. But, in Armenia, schools are teaching children reality: Sometimes you lose. That’s an important lesson, and it should be taught at a young age.
My high school had a student opinion magazine, and I once wrote an essay for them saying the same thing. I have some experience teaching chess to kids, and you’d be surprised how easily you can get most of them to take to it. And Berezow is right that chess teaches a lot of skills in a way that is considerably more fun than standard classroom lessons.
A lot of schools already have chess programs. In fact, kids are playing chess in record numbers. My friend Ned, who you might remember from this post, pointed out to me that if he wanted to start a chess club today everyone would just assume it was meant for kids. Go to any large chess tournament, and you will be amazed by the number of younglings. Alas, the flipside of this is that the adult game is slowly dying. Most of those kids are going to stop playing chess as they grow up. Oh well.
Anyway, let me close with two of my favorite chess quotes, both, alas, attributed to anonymous. “The ability to play chess is the sign of high intellect. The ability to play chess well is the sign of high intellect gone wrong.” And my all-time favorite, “Chess will never appeal to the masses until the masses realize that the joy of removing an enemy’s toenail with red-hot pincers pales in comparison to the joy of taking his pawn on the tenth move, and forcing him, for want of that pawn, to resign on the eighty-seventh.”