Playing chess could strengthen problem-solving skills, enhance memory and foster creative thinking.

Armenia is a country of about three million people and rarely covered by the media. But do you know that the state is one of the strongest chess nations today? Among countries, Armenia has one of the most chess grandmasters per capita. Armenia regularly beats powerhouses such as Russia, China, and the US and its national team won gold at the International Chess Olympiad in 2006, 2008, and 2012.

Since the 2011–12 school year, chess lessons have been made part of the curriculum in every public school in Armenia, making it the first country in the world to make chess mandatory in schools. The Government believes that chess is a fair game and teaches children good behavior. The child is constantly making strategic decisions, assessing the situation before making a move, thus benefit society as a whole.

What is the connection between chess and intelligence?

A study undertaken by Stuart Margulies, Ph.D., a chess master and author of articles on instructional technology, found that chess participation enhances reading test scores and reading performance in elementary schools. Another study by Professor Peter Dauvergne, who is also a chess master and professor at the University of British Columbia, concluded playing chess could raise IQ scores, strengthen problem-solving skills, enhance memory and foster creative thinking.

English chess International Master Malcolm Bernard Pein encourages schools to adapt chess in their curriculum. He believes chess teaches children to take responsibility for their actions. There are behavioral attitudes and social attributes to the game, like shaking hands at the start of the game.

English chess grandmaster Raymond Keene agrees with targeting six-year-olds at primary school. According to him, chess draws from brainpower, not experience. If a child is good at six, they could be a grandmaster by the time they are 12.

How do you get kids into chess?

Raymond Keene believes that chess is a very addictive process, a positive drug for children. Even when it is played online, it is much better than video games or television. The question is, how to make the kids addicted to chess? We know that make the class fun and memorable is the answer. We will find that kids are naughty enough to play catch with pawn and pieces!

Short session. Younger kids find it difficult to keep their concentration during long class. It applies to the chess session. Remember, teaching chess requires a lot of patience. Do not push the kids, stress them out, and make them hate the game forever.

Gamification. Kids love games and quiz during the session. Stop lecturing and invite kids quizzes about the chess pieces. Give positive points for their answers and engagement and negative points for their negative behaviors.  

Storytelling. Some pieces are difficult for children to understand. Instead of explaining the concept, translate the concept into storytelling. Make your story why the king only can move one square in any direction. Maybe he eats too many desserts, and he can only move very slowly.

Remember, introducing kids to chess doesn’t mean pushing them to be the next grandmaster. But to improve children's visual memory, attention span, and spatial-reasoning ability.

Tunas Jakasampurna School