Intellectual Benefits of Chess

Chess is a strategy board game played between two players, on a chequered board. Each playing piece is moved according to precise rules and each piece has its unique movement. The purpose of the game is to put the opponent’s king into checkmate so that the king cannot move out of the check. It is considered an enjoyable way to spend time in every part of the world. 

Chess has been competing for claims of its roots in China, Persia, and India; but we all agree that the game is at least 1300 years old while the modern version can be traced back to the 15th century. The game is also recognized by the International Olympic Committee but is still struggling for representation in the popular sports meet.  PiggyRide is India’s most trusted and leading platforms that offer some of the best online chess classes for kids. Moreover, the online chess classes are conducted by professional instructors who are not only well-experienced but have also represented India, at the national level. 

With the pandemic locking us down, literally, it’s a great time to get out your chess board or log onto an online game. Here are some reasons why kids should engage in live online chess classes and become a master of this age-old game of strategy and logic. 

  • Helps in Improving Concentration

According to multiple studies, it has been observed that chess significantly improves a child’s visual memory, concentration, and spatial reasoning ability. Maybe that’s because, in chess as well as in school, concentration and memory work in tandem. In order to be a good player, one must focus completely on the goal – checkmate the opponent’s king. As you get more and more involved in the game, you are constantly visualizing the board, the pieces, your moves, counter moves… which helps in growing the concentration. As you focus harder, you improve your memory, go back to past games, strategies, and learn. Both concentration and memory grow simultaneously and are mutually reinforcing. 

  • Enhances Academic Performance at School

Academic institutions or parents which encourage live online chess classes are seen to positively react to studies of educational psychologist Stuart Marguiles. In 1996, he observed that school students who played chess scored almost 10% more marks on reading tests, as compared to those who didn’t. A similar study, a year later, proved that fifth-graders who played chess scored 4.3 points higher in reading and 6.4 points higher on math tests than their non chess playing counterparts. 

  • Improvises Problem-Solving Skills

As a chess player, you are focusing on problem-solving and multiple moving variables; it is not surprising that live online chess classes enhance reading and math skills. A study in Venezuela also claims that playing chess increases the IQ of a student. Psychologists derive that it is because the cognitive processes required for both are similar. They both need decoding, comprehension, analysis, and thinking, along with application. 

  • Helps in the Development of Critical Thinking

There is further proof in the doctoral dissertation of Robert Ferguson, executive director of the American Chess School in Bradford, PA. He researched junior high students, each of whom was engaged in an activity that included either working on a computer, playing chess, enrolling in a creative writing workshop, or playing a game that was designed to develop creative and critical thinking skills. After spending 60 minutes on one of these activities, the students who played chess were hugely ahead of others in multiple psychological tests –  scoring almost 13 percent higher in critical reasoning and 35 percent in creative thinking. 

  • Helps in Improving Cognitive and Behavioral Development

Even if we were to keep Science aside, there is anecdotal evidence to convince parents and teachers of live online chess classes – which are both cognitive as well as behavioral. The introduction of chess in the early years would ensure that these students were up to lesser mischief, especially boys. It is a great way to keep them engrossed, productive, and spend some quality time with you.

  • Boosts Creativity

Chess works on the ‘if-then’ theory and makes your child foster logic, creativity, foresightedness, and critical thinking. If I make a move here, then my opponent might make that move. If I move that, then my opponent might move this and then I might be able to move this, and so one. That is an example of a single move in chess which is both logic and critical thinking in action. Chess has been observed to boost creativity dramatically and be original, every single time. In theory, researchers claim that by encouraging kids to imagine all possible move alternatives, chess trains the minds to think of all the possibilities, which is the cornerstone of original thinking. 

  • Offers Immediate Feedback

Chess is also a game that is instantly gratifying. It offers immediate feedback. You lose your focus, you lose a piece. Practice more and win more games. Chess makes you feel in control of the moves, literally. Connections Academy’s 2010 Chess Tournament winner Jeremy Coste says, “The harder you work, the luckier you get.” As often said by other sports to be a waste of time, chess can be extremely beneficial for young minds. The game has been persuasively linked to improving thinking, critical, and reasoning abilities – as mentioned multiple times before. But that is because we cannot emphasize enough. It can greatly improve memory storage and how young minds access and manage information. Chess is an acquired skill and is not only for children who are perceived to be gifted. Even children with special needs can be trained to play chess and this helps them not just interact with others but improve their learning capabilities. Live online chess classes are absolutely for everyone!

  • Helps in Communication

Chess is also a great way for your kids to interact and open up with others, especially for those who are shy or introverted. In chess, all children are equal regardless of their ethnic backgrounds, gender, age, and even religious affiliations. It is a great way to cross social, economic and cultural boundaries and mingle with people across borders. And that is the beauty of live online chess classes. All children compete with each other on equal terms. It has also been considered a great way to integrate migrant children. As they move to a new country and are struggling to learn their language and cultures, chess can help them engage with other children and adults without speaking the same language. It can be a great ice breaker and hence a great life skill.  

What is the Best Age to Begin?

As we argue about the best age to indulge your kids in a live online class, not all experts agree on an age to start learning how to play chess. Some say, the earlier the better. A lot of academic institutions encourage students to learn to play chess as early as kindergarten. Their brains are like sponges and they absorb things quicker and better, when they are young. While some kids find their hold of the game at the age of 4, some teachers argue that the best age is to start at 7 or 8. This is the time they are in second grade and are completely ready to sharpen their brains. 

It is a myth that boys are better players than girls, who are perfectly capable of competing in the game against their male counterparts. In fact, girl chess players are considered much better as they are considered to be less mischievous and more diligent. As the popularity of the game increases, experts who have been involved with the game, are seeing more and more girls come forward and participate. 

Although, we advise you to not pester your kids into playing the game if they are not interested. Let them take their time and build their interest. A great way would be to enroll them for a live online chess class where they can get a feel of the game and just observe. We don’t want to frighten them away by conjuring up images of the 1993 film Searching for Bobby Fischer, where a 7-year-old is exhaustively trained for a completion. For an average child, this kind of pressure can cause more harm than good to their ever-absorbing minds. The game has to be fun. The child has to want to play to actually benefit from the activity. 

A great way to get your child or students interested in the game would be by spicing up the process with cultural anecdotes and historical references. For instance, you can give them a break from all the strategy and thinking and get them to design their chess pieces. You can conjure up small dances to get them to remember the movement of each piece. Connecting it to their favorite Disney character is a definite way to pique up their interest. For instance, Princess Jasmine was such an excellent chess player that she could play four games simultaneously and at the same time carry conversations with Aladdin on his magic carpet. 

Teachers say that almost anyone can play chess. So kids, who are not interested in competing can still benefit from the game. Chess helps all students whether bilingual, economically disadvantaged, or even dyslexic. For parents, who are still not convinced on why they should enrol their child in a live online chess class, let us consider a child who is playing chess, sitting quietly, and concentrating. Without you having to keep them entertained by something silly or loud. We think it is a check mate for all!

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