Monday, December 20, 2010

Chess and the Game of Life

Chess board and Set

Can Chess make you a better investor? Wall Street firms have been known to recruit strong Chess players. Boaz Weinstein, a leader in the investing world, is a top rated Chess player.

Can it make children better students? Here is research on the benefits of Chess compiled by Dr. Robert C Ferguson.

A better soldier? The Navy Seals even weighed in – Chess players do better in Seal training.

For my part, I had played Chess as a child and in college, but not much after that. Then I started noticing Bridge players. I knew a fair number, and they were cognitively sharp as a tack.

In fact, the difference was so noticeable, I could pick them out. I would ask after talking with someone, are you a Bridge player? Often, I would be right.

Not being a Bridge player, I picked up Chess again. I have found many benefits to playing Chess, and now I am teaching my children to play Chess as well.


School and Chess

Chess Club at Sandy Hook School in Newtown, CT, USA

In school, students are graded on whether their answers are right or wrong.
In Chess, they chart their own path. It takes math, calculation and visualization skills. Chess teaches how to think.

In this Wall Street Journal article, Lessons from the Chessboard, a school in North Saint Louis is finding success with Chess.


Chess and Family

As a child, I played Chess with my father. I didn’t want to, as it was hard work doing all that thinking, and I almost always lost.

But in retrospect, it was one of my best childhood experiences. I attribute my academic success in college and graduate school to my childhood Chess games.

Curtis Chambers - My son and I playing Chess

I enjoy playing Chess with my children. My eight year old is good, and my three year old knows the names of the pieces and can set up the board. We play a simplified version called “pawn wars.”

Does learning Chess as a child make you a better player? Consider the case of the Polgar sisters, three sisters who played Chess with their father at very young ages. They became three of the best players in the world.


Curtis Chambers - Chess in Monte Carlo

This epic family Chess battle was waged in Monte Carlo. My wife won (as usual).


Chess and Computers

IBM Deep Blue Chess Computer

Garry Kasparov lost to IBM’s computer Deep Blue (shown above) on May 11,1997. I reckoned Chess was finished. A computer beat the best human in the world.

But the opposite has proven true. Computers are a positive.

On the Internet, you can get a game against a player of equal skill in seconds. The age old problem of finding someone to play has been solved.

Computers can also analyze. Wonder where you went wrong in that last match? The computer knows. In olden days, you needed a Grandmaster to find out.


Chess without Computers

Curtis Chambers - Family Chess

Paradoxically, Chess is also the ultimate low tech game. It’s played on a board with wooden or plastic pieces.

It gets kids off the internet and the Xbox. They’ll fuss, but they’re okay once the game starts. In my house, we use the same coffee table (shown above) that I played on as a child.


Chess Today

Chess players in park, Kiev, Ukraine

Today, Chess is one of the largest sports. It’s recognized by the International Olympic Committee. There’s a cool international aspect to the game. Play on the internet, and encounter players from all over the world.

Get started and get your kids involved. NM Dan Heisman is a leading Chess coach and thought leader. He has articles on his website on how to begin or improve. I’ve studied and found Dan’s work to be the best.

Good luck! Send me an email and let me know how it goes.