Chess Improves Children's Reading Scores
Dr. Stuart Margulies, a noted educational psychologist, conducted two studies of reading score changes
of children. The first study was conducted with students in New York City Community School District 9, the
South Bronx and the second study in classrooms in New York City and Los Angeles. The results in each study
Students in the chess program showed statistically significant greater gains in reading on a nationally
standardized achievement test than did the control group. The chess players outperformed the average student in
the country and the average student in the school district. The gains were particularly impressive among
children who started with relatively low or average initial scores. Children in non-chess playing control groups
showed no gain.
Interviews and analysis by Dr. Margulies offer possible explanations for these exceptional results.
The cognitive processes used in chess and reading are very similar.
Both chess and reading involve processes of decoding, thinking, comprehending and analyzing– all
higher order skills. Chess and reading are decision-making activities and some transfer of training from one to
the other may be expected.
Chess masters believe chess play develops general intelligence, self-control, analytical skills and increased
ability to concentrate. They argue that enhanced reading skills naturally follow.
Teachers believe chess-playing students develop enhanced ego strength as they increase their chess
competence. They argue that students who feel confident and good about themselves naturally learn to read
Chess participants form a pool of intellectually gifted and talented students. Students who join this group
make contact with a core of high achievers and thereby develop more academic interests, speak at higher
levels of standard American speech and take on the values of achievement.
Conclusion: Chess participation appears to enhance reading performance.