Archive for May, 2009

In a May survey of over 200 Australian schools, 98 percent said that chess has many ‘soft’ skill benefits in addition to the commonly discussed ‘hard’ benefits like problem solving, mathematical reasoning and spatial awareness, with 61 percent stating that chess had an equal effect on both soft and hard skills.

Decision making (74% rated impact as significant) and self-confidence (51% rated impact as significant) were identified as the soft skills most heavily influenced by chess, followed by resilience (ability to cope with loss or unexpected change), general behaviour and locus of control (the extent to which a person believes that they can control events that affect them).

Respondents also identified other soft skills positively improved through regular chess play, including social interaction, patience and personal communication.

Archive for May, 2009

There’s quite a debate raging on the internet about the relative merits of chess and poker.

I’ve never played competitive poker although some chess players, such as Eddie Levi and Guy West, are excellent card players. The closest I’ve come is when a spectator commented to me that I had a “poker face” as he could never tell if I was winning or losing my chess game by looking at my expression. Apart from that, I’ve played a few girly bingo online games where that also happened, but let’s not count that one. There are some similarities between chess and poker. Both require an understanding of psychology, risk taking and the ability to think quickly.

Archive for May, 2009

Skill at chess requires an ability by the good player to differentiate between the important and the unimportant in the selection of his moves. A beginner will have before him a vast array of moves to choose between and will have little idea as to which are the good moves and which are the bad moves. In the starting position for example there are 20 possible moves, but you and I know that we basically have to choose between e4, d4, c4 and Nf3 as good first moves.

Grandmasters can generally look at a position and immediately narrow down the candidate moves to two or three alternatives that are worthy of attention. I remember one GM looking briefly at a position and, seemingly without analysing, saying “I think in this position I must play SO!” and he made his move. Perhaps he just selected his move based on “feel” using his vast experience of similar positions.

Archive for May, 2009

Here at Chess Kids, our beloved leader, the Chess Guru, likes nothing better than when we find a new article promoting the benefits of chess. “Chess Makes your Children Smarter” or “Chess Prevents Violence in Schools” are the sort of topics that send him into raptures. I have therefore been racking my brain for a new angle to promote chess and I have an idea! What do you think of this?

CHESS IMPROVES YOUR REFLEXES!

OK, now I realise that the traditional image of chess players is two old men sitting at a chess table looking really bored whilst they wait for their opponent to move. If you pop into the Melbourne Chess Club in Fitzroy you’ll see an old picture on the wall with a caption along the lines of “Major General So-and-so (aged 103) plays the Reverend Such-and-such (aged 97)” and you can practically see the cob-webs over the chess pieces. In the 19th century, before they started using chess clocks, this may well have been the case but my experience is a little different.

Archive for May, 2009

Archive for May, 2009

My Thesaurus tells me that a “bookworm” is either an “enthusiastic reader” or an “insect eating books”. In an age of mass extinction I fear that both of these species should be placed on the endangered list if the result of my chess survey is anything to go by.

I’m teaching two new chess classes this term and at the start of each term I have the pupils fill in a small survey in with I ask for such information as “age”, “age learned chess” and “number of chess books that you have”.