CHESS EDUCATIONAL STUDIES List of studies compiled by spartanburghchessclub offer data linking the rumors of chess to reality: improved reading skills, concentration, problem-solving skills, planning and foresight, memory, increases IQ (in multiple studies, one in Venezuela of over 4,000 second grade students which found most IQ scores heightened after only 4.5 months of studying chess), and even improving dendrite growth. An article on chess.com which also compiles studies notes chess improves creativity, citing a German study which found chess activated the right hemisphere as well as the left, and the group of kids who played chess had higher scores in measures of creativity. In my own teaching, especially the last decade almost exclusively in special needs schools, I found chess also raised resilience and confidence as well as boosting fine motor and social skills.
So where's chess from anyway? While chess originally helped young princes learn military strategies (and rulers exercise it), it eventually traveled further from its originsin India in the Gupta dynasty in the sixth to eighth century, under the name of Chatrang or Chaturanga, meaning “four parts:'' Chariots, elephants, horsemen, and pawns, as well as a King and “fers” or adviser. Chess traveled the world like the proverbial flying carpet, picking up pieces of each culture as it moved through. Over time the elephants became bishops, chariots turned into rooks, and eventually in the 15th century, the “fers,” originally one of the weakest pieces on the board, became a queen. The newly-born queen took on power that mirrored the powerful women in the real world of that period, such as Mary, Queen of Scots, Elizabeth I, Catherine the Great, Margaret of Austria, and Catherine de Medici, becoming the strongest piece. Noblemen and women both played the game. Eventually chess became a game filled with amateur chess lovers (see artists Marcel Du Champ and Man Ray) rather than for exclusively just privileged classes. Once the Cold War began, the Soviet Union began training its chess players fanatically and amateur players couldn’t keep up. Thanks in part to the Pandemic, Netflix’s hit streaming show, The Queen’s Gambit, and a host of delightfully accessible male and female streamers along with a hip world champion, chess has become cool.
Here's a smattering of chess streamers to follow (if for children, please check them first to make sure they fit your child-friendly purposes) Qiyu Zhou @akaneksmo The Botez Sisters @BotezLive Anna Cramling Bellón @AnnaCramling Hikaru Nakamura @GMHikaru Magnus Carlsen @themagnuscarlsen Jennifer Shahade @YourMomatChess
If You're in NYC visit Fred Wilson's magical chess book store at fredwilsonchess.com