Why Chess?

Below are four main reasons for learning and playing, providing and teaching, and supporting chess.

1. Chess is a great game with a wonderful history.

Chess dates back approximately 1,500 years with roots in India and Persia. During the last century, many interesting and charismatic world champions and top level players have gained celebrity status. Chess is still played worldwide, and is well understood and respected by many different cultures.

Chess can be played at any age, from 4 to 80+. Its rules are relatively easy to learn, but the game is difficult to master. Children are quickly engaged by chess. Chess is well suited for both in-person and online learning and playing experiences.

In his book The Immortal Game (Anchor Chess, 2006), author David Shenk notes that using a 64-square chessboard with 32 standard chess pieces, there are about 10 to the 120 power (10¹²⁰) possible chess moves. He points out that there are only 10⁷⁹ electrons in the universe, illustrating the near-infinite scope of chess.

2. There are many benefits relating to chess.

For example, chess helps with development and maintenance of the human brain and mind, and so it is beneficial to both children and adults of all ages. Children are quick to become engaged in playing chess, and the game can be taught at an early age.

Chess enables experiences of deep concentration, sharpens competitive skills, activates multiple intelligences, and allows students to experience sacrifice, problem-solving and planning. Chess has been proven in scientific studies to improve math and reading skills, and other abilities such as numerical pattern recognition.

Chess can be used as a tool to teach essential life skills, enabling students to repurpose their chess skills in positive and beneficial ways to deal with life’s day-to-day challenges. This includes personal, interpersonal and cognitive life skills.

In many countries, chess is now an established part of school teaching curricula, and its implementation cost is quite reasonable. It can also be used to teach STEM skills (science, technology, engineering, and math) to children, leading to greater chances of long-term employability.

3. Chess is driving new technologies.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and chess continue to work well together. AI is being used to analyze chess games in new and interesting ways, leading to the development of powerful computer chess engines and databases. Since the development of the COVID-19 pandemic, many new chess teaching tools and systems have also been developed to match the global shift to online chess.

4. Chess has some unique qualities.

Todd Williams – author of Intellectual Warfare: Winning the Battle for Your Mind (2018) and a contributor to Quora’s Internet chess blog – points out that chess offers a litany of positive learning experiences for its students, as do many other games and sports.

But chess offers some key elements that really aren’t found in other competitive environments. Williams goes on to say that …

It’s easy to see why the ancient game of chess is so much more than just a board game!