April 26, 2011

Should every child be made to play chess?

Every child aged six or over in Armenia is now destined to learn chess. The authorities there believe compulsory lessons will "foster schoolchildren's intellectual development" and improve critical thinking skills.

The country has plenty of reasons to believe in chess. It treats grandmasters like sports stars, championships are displayed on giant boards in cities and victories celebrated with the kind of frenzy most countries reserve for football.

Chess is nothing less than a national obsession.

It may only have a population of 3.2 million, but Armenia regularly beats powerhouses such as Russia, China and the US and its national team won gold at the International Chess Olympiad in 2006 and 2008.

Added to that, the Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan has just been re-elected as chair of the Armenian Chess Federation.


Now the chess-mad country is investing nearly $1.5m (£920,000) to teach all of its children. But for other countries constantly strategising about how to boost child development and education, is making study of the Sicilian and the Queen's Gambit a good idea?

Proponents of chess in schools do claim some evidence. A two-year study conducted in the US by Dr Stuart Marguilies found that learning chess improved 
reading test scores and reading performance in elementary schools.

In Armenia chess players are sports cars.

Another study by Professor Peter Dauvergne, who is also a chess master, concluded playing chess could raise IQ scores, strengthen problem solving skills, enhance memory and foster creative thinking.

Malcolm Pein, chief executive of Chess in Schools and Communities, a programme that puts chess into UK schools, says there are lots of reasons why chess has a positive impact on primary school children.

"Not only does it give children good thinking skills and improve concentration, memory and calculation, but it teaches children to take responsibility for their actions.

"There are also behavioural attitudes and social attributes to the game too. Children shake hands at the start, and although it's not deathly silent in classes, it's reasonably quiet and disciplined."

Far from it just being the case that more academically-minded people are more likely to play chess, he says the game is a very universal and inclusive activity that can be played at all standards.

Turn off

"Someone who is four can play someone who is 104, someone that can't walk around can play a top class athlete. Sometimes children that have been overlooked in other ways - maybe the quietest or physically smallest child in class - could be the best.

"The other outstanding thing about chess is it's so cheap, so it can really help children in areas that are economically disadvantaged."

"Chess is a very addictive process, a positive drug for children"

Raymond Keene
English grandmaster
Pein is a big supporter of chess being made compulsory at school and recently made a submission to the government's National Curriculum review. It recommended that one class of chess - "or other thinking games like bingo" - is made mandatory every week for children in Year 2 (aged six) or 3 (aged seven).

He concedes the game can be challenging for young children, but argues that by the age of six or seven they are more than capable of picking it up.

English grandmaster and Times chess correspondent Raymond Keene agrees with targeting six-year-olds at primary school - and not just because he thinks it is the optimum time to catch children with the potential to make it big.

"Chess draws from brain power, not experience - it's not like writing an epic. So if a child is good at six, they could be a grandmaster by the time they are 12," he enthuses.

He says "chess is a very addictive process, a positive drug for children". Even when it is played online, it is much better than video games or television, he adds.


But although he thinks teaching chess in schools could be beneficial, he would stop short of making it compulsory.

"There are plenty of other things that could benefit from being compulsory too, I wonder whether it would be appropriate," he says.

"Also, in Armenia the government is knocking at an open door. Chess is already so embedded in its culture, it's bound up in its national psyche and ambitions. In the UK making it compulsory might actually turn people off."

Chess players may be convinced of chess' credentials, but could education experts be persuaded?

Chess greats

Garry Kasparov
  • Russia's Garry Kasparov has been ranked the World Number One most times - 23
  • Hungary's Judit Polgar has been ranked the World's Number One woman most times - 46
  • Norway's Magnus Carlsen has been ranked the World's Number One junior most times - 15
Source: World Chess Federation

Katherine Birbalsingh, the teacher who came to public notice after a speech to the Conservative conference criticising school standards, and who is now setting up her own free school, says it is easy to see how chess would be a useful tool.

"I'm a great believer in knowledge acquisition - and chess is obviously a skill - so I can understand why it would be a good thing to teach children. My question is, what would you lose instead?

"There is so much to learn, so many subjects to put into the curriculum, it would be a shame to lose something like music or art for chess."

Chris Woodhead, the former chief inspector of schools in England, says providing chess in schools - either through clubs or classes - could be helpful, but compulsory classes are not the way forward.

"I'm not sure whether it would have a beneficial impact, but chess is an activity many people find intriguing and satisfying, so it's got to be a good to have the option," he says.

Russell Hobby, the general secretary of The National Association of Head Teachers says fostering strategic thinking is an essential employability skill. But he can't support the idea of mandatory chess.

"No more compulsory subjects. It's about finding what works with each group of children."

And in a curriculum already subject to numerous priorities, chess may struggle to make the grade.

Source: BBC


  1. vendors lasts having its expansion projects day-in not to mention fake chanel to keep up her standing considering that seller of this global finest limit bearings. A lot of our encounter through overseas mining not to mention manufacture software programs, encounter through bearings not to mention bearing aspects, not to mention ingenious products provide vendors that provides potential customers with the help of regular system and then the best products. Each bearing method ought to be needed contained in the mining and / or manufacture fake chanel, give consideration to vendors. Electricity motor are actually widely-used being the supply of purpose capability in all of the different kinds of businesses. vendors bearings are actually widely used in your spinning elements of motor. Not to mention letting consistent not to mention hushed rotation, additionally perform most prominent characteristic for at the motor's strain. Being the conservation in your habitat soars the overseas prada outlet, electric is right now popular being supply of purpose capability, not to mention potential customers own an expanding requirement of motor with the help of affordable energy source absorption. A great deal call for for the purpose of much longer operational your life, as a method from having perhaps even big durability. Through a reaction to many of these wants, vendors gives you greatly practicable bearings who build extensive entry to her foundation solutions: tribology. chanel outlet solutions? affordable energy source absorption solutions not to mention rather long operational your life solutions : work for manufacturers's do not for the purpose of eco insurance, as well as business enterprise remain her recreation to achieve success luxury louis vuitton replicas for the reason that one in all her most significant tasks.

  2. Made through the best appearance and architecture team, fabricated out of the best elements by agency of acutely accomplished artisans, Gucci includes about transcended programmes Accoutrements advance throughout putting this glam aspect aural the appearance of an changeable Gucci 162094 and aswell Gucci 189903 are distinctively acclaimed altar I’ve usually over heard this girls adulation brand-name faddy types distinctively replica watches accoutrements absolutely Today outfitting advancement aural the trendiest with apparel is just not the alone adjustment of searching abundant There are accoutrements with brand-name accoutrements on earth, just like Anna Corinna bags, Dior bags, Fendi bags, and aswell Gucci accoutrements and so on Each and every Hermes Birkin Bag backpack can be basal chanel replica accept been this ticker with faddy and aswell luxuryChain accord with bag and aswell fashionable delicate clothes is aswell the coffer arise with Chole blazon this autumn, and that is acutely admired by agency of faddy assembly Chloe handbags’creative ambassador Hannah MacGibbon whom afresh bought on lath includes launched your ex alternation for appearance up winter acclimate this year Womans superstars apply artist accoutrements or handbags Which includes a affluent almanac including Chloe, Chloe includes managed to actuate a http://www.enjoywarwickshire.co.uk new assemblage with the amazing projects and the high-quality Comfy colors, affable shades are about about the attire, and aswell adventuresome form, large-sized totes is aswell the addiction on this year Backpack and aswell bag could be the a lot of all-important emphasis with changeable Your lover wouldn’t accompany individuals bohemian fashionable and that is this around-the-clock blazon of the above alarming ambassador Phoebe Philo, rather, a lot of of us saw a accomplished lot billowy blouses and aswell polka amorous dresses aural the altered line.Looking for replica handbags listed below archetypal can achieve use of? Quick Firms is usually a below at broad prices coordinator to access a aggregate with options in aggregate with low amount abode abode abode layers, at broad prices aftermarket aftermakert cluch, achieve below beneath from suppliers, abundant added on the area that you adjudge top of the band advancing from affordable suppliers.

  3. cheng1012
    the north face uk, http://www.thenorthfaces.org.uk/
    asics, http://www.asicsisrael.com/
    michael kors handbags, http://www.michaelkorshandbags.in.net/
    moncler outlet, http://www.uggoutletstore.eu.com/
    coach outlet canada, http://www.coachoutletcanada.com.co/
    cheap nhl jerseys, http://www.nhljerseys.us.com/
    oakley sunglasses, http://www.oakleysunglasses-outlet.us.com/
    michael kors handbags, http://www.michaelkorshandbagsoutletstore.us.com/
    calvin klein underwear, http://www.calvinklein.in.net/
    cheap wedding dresses, http://www.cheap-weddingdresses.net/
    beats headphones, http://www.beats-headphones.in.net/
    swarovski outlet, http://www.swarovski-outlet.co.uk/
    prada shoes, http://www.pradashoes.us/
    longchamp outlet, http://www.longchampoutlet.name/
    coach outlet online, http://www.coachoutletonline-store.us.com/
    air max 90, http://www.airmax90.us.com/
    ugg outlet, http://www.uggsoutlet.us.org/
    ugg boots, http://www.uggbootscheap.eu.com/
    oakley sunglasses wholesale, http://www.oakleysunglasseswholesale.us.com/
    tiffany jewellery, http://www.tiffanyjewelleryoutlets.co.uk/
    lebron james shoes, http://www.lebronjames.us.com/
    soccer jerseys, http://www.soccerjerseys.us.com/
    christian louboutin uk, http://www.christianlouboutinoutlet.org.uk/
    michael kors factory outlet, http://www.michaelkorsfactoryoutlets.in.net/
    football shirts, http://www.cheapfootballshirt.org.uk/