In our enthusiasm for learning through gaming, might we be overlooking one of the oldest games in the world – chess? There is sufficient belief in its contribution to learning in general, that countries as varied as America, Russia and Venezuela include the game – and its study – in the curriculum. Closer to home, Chess Scotland is very active in school life (look for Schools link in menu on left-hand side).
Google Alerts threw a pdf document my way entitled the Benefits of Chess in Education, in which, like music, chess is shown to strengthen other domains – reading, maths, logic, planning, problem solving, juggling options. There appear also to be social and behavioural benefits.
The chess community has not been slow to augment traditional over the board games and analytical books with a variety of hi-tech and online resources: chess computers; software; websites; gaming sites. YouTube features many instructional videos on openings and endgames in addition to more performance-based films such as this amazing blitz game (even the physical co-ordination is impressive – let alone the mental performance):
[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/Bzrap8Vtyq8" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]
or this simul, in which Garry Kasparov defeats 25 opponents:
[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/lsG7sdF4X8k" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]
Perhaps, though, despite all this, the game of chess continues to labour under the image of being a geeky game? Well, not in South Bronx, where the Dark Knights record against schools which can afford private coaching is very impressive.