Why

Games are not only entertaining, but the better ones serve as terrific learning tools. Many countries are convinced that chess is a prime example of this. For one thing, Armenia, India, Turkey and Norway have introduced it as part of their school curriculum, while many countries have optional chess clubs.

One of the best lessons that chess helps with is teaching us how to react to our own mistakes. In particular, it is common to lose objectivity after an initial mistake and lead into a bigger mistake (a mistake followed by a ‘blunder’). It is a lesson that is readily applicable in daily life and perhaps my favourite application of psychology in chess. I have written an entire article about avoiding the ‘downward spiral’, inspired by the teachings of International Master (IM) Joshua Waitzkin.

Of course, there are also many tangible benefits that chess produces. As a youngster, I was heavily immersed in the game and the skills it taught me have become increasingly evident over the years:

  • Geography – A player competes against opponents from all over the world, particularly on the internet; I have also learnt to associate the spelling patterns of names to different regions of the world.
  • Pronunciation – It is natural to learn how to pronounce opponent’s names; you will also see a wide variety of names in chess databases.
  • General computer skills – Being able to install and run chess software.
  • Database skills – The main tool for any serious chess player is chess database software like ChessBase’s “Fritz” and its accompanying databases; such skills are adaptable to more general database software, like Microsoft Access.
  • Vocabulary – A number of words from computing, politics and war become natural for a chess player, such as ‘graphical user interface’, ‘resignation’ and ‘flank attack’.

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