Written and copyright 2005 by David Cohen.

•        What is chess?
•        Where did chess come from?
•        Why play chess?

What is chess?:
Chess is a board game played by two people.

Where did chess come from?:
When  Alexander  of  Macedonia  invaded  India with his army from Greece, over 2,300 years ago, he tried to
combine the two cultures. Chess resulted from the combination of the  logic games of Greece and the race
games of India. Think of the logic of how the pieces move, and the racing of pawns to the opposite sides of the

The board represents a battlefield. The pieces represent the Indian army’s leader (king); advisor to the leader
(queen); and four components: infantry (pawn),    cavalry   (knight),   chariotry   (rook)   and   elephantry   
(bishop). Chess  spread to the East to China and Japan, as well as across the Arabic world and into Europe.
From there, chess came to Canada around the 17th century,  brought  from  England  and  France  by explorers
and the

Why play chess?:
In a learning environment, chess can help you improve your math, logic, sports, and life skills.

Skills Developed by Chess:
•        Math skills
•        Reading skills
•        Logic skills
•        Sports skills
•        Life skills

Math Skills:
Children develop math skills with chess because of a common requirement of chess and math: visualization. This
usually occurs in Grade 2 (at age 7). Chess develops visualization abilities as follows:

•        Chess board - The chess board is laid out in a  checkered pattern  ofa  large  square  comprised  of  64   
smaller  squares  arranged  8 x 8. Children can be taught their way around the board through its various
patterns (ranks, files, diagonals, colouring of squares).

•        Moves of the chess pieces - The child first learns the movements of the  chess  pieces  which  travel in
straight lines: pawn, rook, bishop, and  queen. But  then  the  child is introduced to a movement that is quite
different from the others: the L-shaped jump of the knight. The movement   is  not  only  different  from  the  child’
s  previous   chess experience, but is also likely an entirely new experience for the child. The child must learn to
visualize the movement.

•        Moving  chess  pieces around on the chess board - Moving a chess piece from a starting square to an
ending square forces the child to visualize the patterns and movements.

Reading skills:
Reading comprehension is improved because sorting out what is important in a chess position is the same as
sorting out the contents of a multi-media web page.

Logic Skills:
Critical thinking skills can be developed from chess in the field of logic, with applications to reading, writing,
research, and learning:

•        Analysis - list, assess strengths and weaknesses (use observation, reference to standards); develop
possible actions (use imagination)

•        Evaluation - assess the value of an action

•        Judgement - compare alternative actions and determine which is best

•        Planning - form a plan for an action; break it down into achievable steps

The development of these skills is due to the forced alternation of moves by the two players of the game. To have
any success in a chess game, a child must learn to reason as follows:

"If I do this (move 1), then my opponent will do that (move 2)"; and

"If I do this (move choice 1), then it will be a better result for me than if I do that (move choice 2)".

Sports Skills:
Chess can help you with your (team) sports:

•        Visualization - arrangement of the players on the field of play

•        Thinking ahead - possible moves on the open field of play

•        Opponent’s response

•        Analysis - assess strengths and weaknesses of teams (yours, your opponent); develop possible actions

•        Evaluation - assess the value of an action

•        Judgement - compare alternative actions and determine which is best

•        Strategy - form a game plan for the team; break it down into achievable steps, with a role for each player

•        Teamwork - team play for your school; playing double chess (bughouse) with a partner

•        Hiding your emotions during a contest

•        Break from physical activity

Life Skills:
In  the  right teaching environment, chess can be used to develop a wide range of life skills for the student's
personal growth and ability to interact socially. Here are some examples:

•        Competition – gain self-esteem and confidence from winning; take defeat and learn from losing

•        Concentration – success from your own effort

•        Cooperation – team play for your school; playing double chess (bughouse) with a partner

•        Fair play - playing by the rules

•        Hard work – study plus practice will lead to achieving the goal

•        Knowledge sharing – mentoring; play weaker players to help them

•        Maturity – consideration for others, social behaviour

•        Responsibility - your actions bring consequences
U.S. Chess Mates