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Should children be taught chess?

Should children be taught chess?

Dec 10, 2013, 2:59 PM 1

Playing chess teaches a number of things. Firstly, that we cannot win all the time. In fact, if we play with people of a similar skill level then we will win only half the games. Secondly, it teaches us to take responsibility for our decisions. Once we have made a move we have to live with the consequences. Move in haste, repent at leisure. How many times has that happened to all of us?

Chess teaches logical reasoning and the necessity to make a plan and to follow through on it. In chess, the distinction between tactics and strategy is fairly clear. In normal living the balance between short-term and long-term goals can easily get muddled. Chess reminds us of the difference. As in life, tactics, ie short-term but urgent problems, take precedence over long-term ones.

Being a perfectly fair game with no element of chance, chess teaches us what a level playing field is like.

We learn how to take calculated risks, as well as to be on guard for dangers created by the opponent. We need to learn both how to attack and defend. Chess shows us how fallible all of us can be, even when we have thought things through carefully.

It gets us out of our habitual narcissism, because to play well we have to look at what the opponent is trying to do, not just our own plans. We have to learn to respect the opponent and pay close attention to what they are doing.

It also teaches us how to be flexible, since a chess game is like a car with two drivers, who steer in opposite directions.

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