Benefits of Chess

Mental Development through Chess

The opponent opposite is simply moving pieces on a board;
the true battle lies with yourself.

Chess is merely a vehicle for the true battle of the mind. Through chess, one looks for the best move, the best plan, and the most beautiful continuation out of an endless number possibilities. It encourages the everlasting aim towards progress and in so doing it inspires self-motivation.

Once the basic rudiments of chess are understood, most players soon learn to appreciate that there is much more to this game than first meets the eye. Tactics and strategy, technique, memory, creativity and imagination as well as specific knowledge of opening and endgame theory, are all requisite skills found in the strongest chess players.

Beginners who play chess (and early computer programs) place significant emphasis on material - reasoning that " the player with more material will win by sheer numbers " . Material plays a central role in winning a chess game but many more ideas are needed for a useful evaluation of a position. More advanced players find a balance: included in their evaluation processes are the ideas of central control, pawn structure, material, space, maneuverability, king safety, initiative and development of pieces. The brain has internalized these values allowing the player to make a reasoned judgment of which particular themes are critical in evaluating his or her own position.

Decision Making
Planning
Initiative
A Strong Practical Sense
To Take a Definite Direction
Adaptability (fluid values)
Resistance To Emotional Forces
Self-Criticism
A strong Sense Of Purpose
Greater Speed of Mental Processing
Coping with Frustration
Coping With Stress
Coping with Time Management

Chess also demonstrates the theme of critical thinking. During a game a player must formulate a plan of attack or defence.  This entails that the player must not only reflect on how similar problems are solved (searching a database of previous knowledge) but also the player must perform a systematic checking of possible combinations of moves and then arrive at an evaluation of each line. The process is a mental exercise where pieces are envisioned to be moving from square to square and the player reflects on the characteristics of the position to finally produce a reasoned outcome (move). This is precisely the definition of critical thinking

As reported in Developing Critical Thinking Through Chess, Dr. Robert Ferguson tested students from seventh to ninth grades from the years 1979-1983 as part of the ESEA Title IV-C Explore Program. He found that non-chess students increased their critical thinking skills an average of 4.6% annually, while students who were members of a chess club improved their analytical skills an average of 17.3% annually. Three separate tests to determine how chess affects creative thinking were also done as part of the same study. It concluded that on average, different aspects of creative thinking had improved at a rate two to three times faster for chess playing students, as opposed to their non-chess playing counterparts.

Subsequent studies by Dr. Ferguson further supported these original conclusions. In the Tri-State Area School Pilot Study conducted in 1986 and Development of Reasoning and Memory Through Chess (1987-88) chess playing students showed more rapid increased gains in memory, organizational skills, and logic.

In the early 80's Faneuil Adams became president of the American Chess Foundation (ACF). Adams was convinced that chess was an excellent learning tool for the adolescent, especially the disadvantaged. The ACF embarked on the Chess in Schools Program which focused on New York's Harlem School district. Initially the program was focused on improving math skills for adolescents through improved critical thinking and problem solving skills. This was achieved as " test scores improved by 17.3% for students regularly engaged in chess classes, compared with only 4.56% for children participating in other forms of enriched activities."

In terms of verbal improvement specifically, a study by Dr. Stuart Margulies from 1991 addressed this. The study conclusively proved that students who learned chess enjoyed a significant increase in their reading skills. " Margulies Study is one of the strongest arguments to finally prove what hundreds of teachers knew all along-chess is a learning tool. (Inside Chess, February 1994).

" Can chess promote earlier intellectual maturation" was the question posed in the Chess and Cognitive Development study directed by Johan Christiaen from the 1974-76 school years in Belgium. The results again clearly confirmed that the group of chess playing students showed significantly more improvement then the non chess playing students. In 1982, Dr. Gerard Dullea mentioned this study and proclaimed " … we have scientific support for what we have known all along-chess makes kids smarter! (Chess Life, November 1982) In a similar study done in a test series in New Brunswick, Canada called Challenging Mathematics, the mathematics curriculum used chess to teach logic from grades 2 to 7. The average problem solving score in the province increased from 62% to 81%. In Playing Chess: A Study of Problem-Solving Skills in Students with Average and Above Average Intelligence by Philip Rifner from the 1991-92 school term, the hypothesis that learning general problem solving skills in chess could then be applied to other domains was affirmed.

New Jersey Statute

" An act concerning instruction in chess and supplementing Chapter 35 of Title 18A of the New Jersey Statutes. Be it enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:
1) The Legislature finds and declares that:
a) chess increases strategic thinking skills, stimulates intellectual creativity, and improves problem-solving ability, while raising self-esteem;
b) when youngsters play chess they must call upon higher-order thinking skills, analyse actions and consequences, and visualize future possibilities;
c) in countries where chess is offered widely in schools, students exhibit excellence in the ability to recognize complex patterns and consequently excel in math and science; and
d) instruction in chess during the second grade will enable pupils to learn skills which will serve them throughout their lives.

2) Each board of education may offer instruction in chess during the second grade for pupils in gifted and talented and special education programs. The department of Education may establish guidelines to be used by boards of education which offer chess instruction in those programs.

3) This act shall be made effective immediately

The Morals Of Chess by Benjamin Franklin

The Game of Chess is not merely an idle amusement; several very valuable qualities of the mind, useful in the course of human life,
are to be acquired and strengthened by it, so as to become habits ready on all occasions; for life is a kind of Chess, in which we have often points to gain, and competitors or adversaries to contend wth, and in which there is a vast variety of good and ill events, that are, in some degree, the effect of prudence, or the want of it. By playing at Chess then, we may learn:

1st. Foresight, which looks a little into futurity, and considers the consequences that may attend an action; for it is continually occurring to the player, " If I move this Piece, what will be the advantage or disadvantage of my new situation? What use can my adversary make of it to annoy me? What other moves can I make to support it, and to defend myself from his attacks?"

2nd. Circumspection, which surveys the whole Chess-board, or scene of action: - the relation of the several Pieces, and their situations; the dangers they are repeatedly exposed to; the several possibilities of their aiding each other; the probabilities that the adversary may make this or that move, and attack this or that Piece; and what different means can be used to avoid his stroke, or turn its consequences against him.

3rd. Caution. Not to make our moves too hastily. This habit is best acquired by observing strictly the laws of the game; such as, if you touch a Piece, you must move it somewhere; if you set it down, you must let it stand. Therefore, it would be the better way to observe these rules, as the game becomes thereby more the image of human life, and particularly of war; in which if you have incautiously put yourself into a bad and dangerous position, you cannot obtain your enemy's leave to withdraw your troops, and place them more securely, but you must abide by all the consequences of your rashness.

And lastly, we learn by Chess the habit of not being discouraged by present bad appearances in the state of our affairs; the habit of
hoping for a favourable chance, and that of persevering in the search of resources. The game is so full of events, there is such a variety of turns in it, the fortune of it is so subject to vicissitudes, and one so frequently, after contemplation, discovers the means of
extricating one's self from a supposed insurmountable difficulty, that one is encouraged to continue the contest to the last, in hopes
of victory from our skill; or, at least, from the negligence of our adversary: and whoever considers, what in Chess he often sees
instances of, that success is apt to produce presumption and its consequent inattention, by which more is afterwards lost than was
gained by the preceding advantage, while misfortunes produce more care and attention, by which the loss may be recovered, will learn not to be too much discouraged by any present successes of his adversary, nor to despair of final good fortune upon every little
check he receives in the pursuit of it. That we may therefore, be induced more frequently to choose this beneficial amusement in preference to others, which are not attended with the same advantages, every circumstance that may increase the pleasure of it should be regarded; and every action or word that is unfair, disrespectful, or that in any way may give uneasiness, should be avoided, as contrary to the immediate intention of both the parties, which is, to pass the time agreeable.

1st, Therefore, if it is agreed to play according to the strict rules, then those rules are to be strictly observed by both parties;
and should not be insisted upon for one side, while deviated from by the other: for this is not equitable.

2nd, If it is agreed not to observe the rules exactly, but one party demands indulgences, he should then be as willing to allow them to the other.

3rd, No false move should ever be made to extricate yourself out of a difficulty, or to gain an advantage; for there can be no pleasure in playing with a man once detected in such unfair practice.

4th, If your adversary is long in playing, you ought not to hurry him, or express any uneasiness at his delay; not even by looking at
your watch, or taking up a book to read: you should not sing, nor whistle, nor make a tapping with your feet on the floor, or with your fingers on the table, nor do anything that may distract his attention: for all these displease, and they do not prove your skill
in playing, but your craftiness and your rudeness.

5th, You ought not to endeavour to amuse and deceive your adversary by pretending to have made bad moves; and saying you have now lost the game, in order to make him secure and careless, and inattentive to your schemes; for this is fraud and deceit, not skill in the game of Chess.

6th, You must not, when you have gained a victory, use any triumphing or insulting expressions, nor show too much of the pleasure you feel; but endeavour to console your adversary, and make him less dissatisfied with himself by every kind and civil expression that may be used with truth; such as, you understand the game better than I, but you are a little inattentive, or, you play too fast; or, you had the best of the game, but something happened to divert your thoughts, and that turned it in my favour.

7th, If you are a spectator, while others play, observe the most perfect silence: for if you give advice, you offend both the parties:
him against whom you give it, because it may cause him to lose the game: him in whose favour you give it, because, though it be good, and he follow it, he loses the pleasure he might have had, if you had permitted him to think till it occurred to himself. Even after a move or moves, you must not, by replacing the Pieces, show how they might have been placed better; for that displeases, and might occasion disputes or doubts about their true situation.

All talking to the players lessens or diverts their attention; and is, therefore, unpleasing; nor should you give the least hint to either party, by any kind of noise or motion; if you do, you are unworthy to be a spectator.

If you desire to exercise or show your judgment, do it in playing your own game, when you have an opportunity, not in criticising or meddling with, or counselling the play of others.

Lastly, If the game is not to be played rigorously, according to the rules before mentioned, then moderate your desire of victory over your adversary, and be pleased with one over yourself.

Snatch not eagerly at every advantage offered by his unskilfulness or inattention; but point out to him kindly, that by such a move he places or leaves a Piece en prise unsupported; that by another, he will put his King into a dangerous situation, & c.

By this general civility (so opposite to the unfairness before forbidden) you may happen indeed to lose the game; but you will win
what is better, his esteem, his respect, and his affection; together with the silent approbation and the good will of the spectators.

When a vanquished player is guilty of an untruth to cover his disgrace, as " I have not played so long, - his method of opening the
game confused me, - the men were of an unusual size," etc all such apologies, (to call them no worse) must lower him in a wise person's eyes, both as a man and a Chess-player; and who will not suspect that he who shelters himself under such untruths in trifling matters, is no very sturdy moralist in things of greater consequence, where his fame and honour are at stake? A man of proper pride would scorn to account for his being beaten by one of these excuses, even were it true; because they have all so much the appearance, at the moment, of being untrue.

Chess and Computers

" Machines are stupid by nature" : that was Garry Kasparov's disparaging verdict on his first encounter with a computerised opponent.

It was 1996 and Mr Kasparov, the world's number one human exponent of the game, had just beaten the IBM Deep Blue computer - although he admitted it was a tough match.
Even so, he had spoken too soon, because the following year, he lost in a return bout with the upgraded and renamed Deeper Blue.

Some grand claims have been made for that contest, with some chess buffs hailing it as a moment to rank with the 1969 Moon landing as a milestone in human history.

For the first time, a machine had beaten a person in a mental struggle that Mr Kasparov himself described as " species-defining" .

Fighting back
But although the uninitiated might have regarded it as inevitable that a computer would one day trounce a chess grandmaster, Mr Kasparov has performed well in more recent matches against non-human opponents.

image04Chess-playing computers have tended to be better at tactics than strategy image06

In January and February this year, he took on another computer program, Deep Junior, which had not been beaten by a human in two years. In the six-match series, he won one, the computer won one, and the other four ended in a draw.

Mr Kasparov has also fared well in his current battle with the X3D Fritz program - securing a draw in game one and a win in game three, although he lost the second one.
So how exactly does a computer play chess? And what can a top player do to outsmart the machine?

Complexity
Artificial intelligence experts and computer programmers agree that chess-playing computers have tended to be better at tactics than strategy.
The classic way to design a chess program relies on what experts call " brute force" - that is, using massive processing power to work out as many potential moves as possible and analyse their consequences.

The problem is that even for a computer, chess is a fiendishly complex game.
From any average position on a chess board, there are 38 possible moves.
To analyse all the implications of just six moves by each player would require considering nine billion billion possible positions - more than any current computer can handle.
The programmers of Deep Blue worked around this by using techniques that allowed the computer to eliminate obviously bad moves.
This allowed the program to get by with the ability to consider just 100 million positions a second (doubled on the upgraded Deeper Blue) - plus a huge database of mistakes to avoid.
Unfortunately, this method did not encourage aggressive chess play.
" Brute force" programmes found it hard to cope with human strategies that involved consciously sacrificing chess pieces in order to gain an advantage later on.
Achilles heel
Deep Junior and Mr Kasparov's latest opponent, X3D Fritz, represent a change of approach.
They pack less processing power, but use "smart" software to pick out the moves that have most potential.
The difference is noticeable. In its fifth match with Mr Kasparov, Deep Junior surprised spectators by sacrificing a bishop in the early stages.
But computers' weakness at strategy is still an Achilles heel that the chess-playing human can exploit.
Mr Kasparov outwitted X3D Fritz on Sunday by building a wall of pawns early on.
In this way, he played a "closed" game that restricted the number of possible moves and made strategic thinking all the more important.
Analysts point out that machines still have sheer relentlessness on their side.
They never have an off day and they do not suffer from lapses of concentration.
Human beings may be fallible, but Mr Kasparov's track record shows that at their best, they can still defeat computers by planning ahead.

Chess Skills – Why learn Chess

Chess is a game for people of all ages. You can learn to play at any age and in chess, unlike in many other sports, you don't ever have to retire. Age is also not a factor when you're looking for an opponent --young can play old and old can play young.

Chess develops memory. The chess theory is complicated and many players memorize different opening variations. You will also learn to recognize various patterns and remember lengthy variations.

Chess improves concentration. During the game you are focused on only one main goal -- to checkmate and become the victor.

Chess develops logical thinking. Chess requires some understanding of logical strategy. For example, you will know that it is important to bring your pieces out into the game at the beginning, to keep your king safe at all times, not to make big weaknesses in your position and not to blunder your pieces away for free. (Although you will find yourself doing that occasionally through your chess career. Mistakes are inevitable and chess, like life, is a never-ending learning process.)

Chess promotes imagination and creativity. It encourages you to be inventive. There are an indefinite amount of beautiful combinations yet to be constructed.

Chess teaches independence. You are forced to make important decisions influenced only by your own judgment.

Chess develops the capability to predict and foresee consequences of actions. It teaches you to look both ways before crossing the street.

Chess inspires self-motivation. It encourages the search of the best move, the best plan, and the most beautiful continuation out of the endless possibilities. It encourages the everlasting aim towards progress, always steering to ignite the flame of victory.

Chess shows that success rewards hard work. The more you practice, the better you'll become. You should be ready to lose and learn from your mistakes. One of the greatest players ever, Capablanca said, " You may learn much more from a game you lose than from a game you win. You will have to lose hundreds of games before becoming a good player."

Chess and Science. Chess develops the scientific way of thinking. While playing, you generate numerous variations in your mind. You explore new ideas, try to predict their outcomes and interpret surprising revelations. You decide on a hypothesis, and then you make your move and test it.

Chess and Technology. What do chess players do during the game? Just like computers they engage in a search for the better move in a limited amount of time. What are you doing right now? You are using a computer as a tool for learning.

Chess and Mathematics. You don't have to be a genius to figure this one out. Chess involves an infinite number of calculations, anything from counting the number of attackers and defenders in the event of a simple exchange to calculating lengthy continuations. And you use your head to calculate, not some little machine.

Chess and Research. There are millions of chess resources out there for every aspect of the game. You can even collect your own chess library. In life, is it important to know how to find, organize and use boundless amounts of information. Chess gives you a perfect example and opportunity to do just that.

Chess and Art. In the Great Soviet Encyclopedia chess is defined as " an art appearing in the form of a game." If you thought you could never be an artist, chess proves you wrong. Chess enables the artist hiding within you to come out. Your imagination will run wild with endless possibilities on the 64 squares. You will paint pictures in your mind of ideal positions and perfect outposts for your soldiers. As a chess artist you will have an original style and personality.

Chess and Psychology. Chess is a test of patience, nerves, will power and concentration. It enhances your ability to interact with other people. It tests your sportsmanship in a competitive environment.

Chess improves schoolwork and grades. Numerous studies have proven that kids obtain a higher reading level, math level and a greater learning ability overall as a result of playing chess. For all those reasons mentioned above and more, chess playing kids do better at school and therefore have a better chance to succeed in life.

Chess opens up the world for you. You don't need to be a high ranked player to enter big important competitions. Even tournaments such as the US Open and the World Open welcome players of all strengths. Chess provides you with plenty of opportunities to travel not only all around the country but also around the world. Chess is a universal language and you can communicate with anyone over the checkered plain.

Chess enables you to meet many interesting people. You will make life-long friendships with people you meet through chess.

Chess is cheap. All you really need is a chess set.

CHESS IS FUN! A chess game does not repeat itself, which means you create more and more new ideas each game.


" An active mental life has been proved to retain brain cells for longer
as well as increase interconnectivity between brain cells."

Imagination
Creativity & Problem Solving
Logic & Reasoning
Memory
Observation
Concentration
Judgement & Evaluation