Many people still think that the game of chess is appropriate for old people. In their mind's eye, they see 2 elderly people sitting across from each other in the park, playing a game of chess.
Well, it might sound surprising to you, but you can teach a baby to play chess. It has shown to be extremely beneficial for children of all ages to learn to play chess, and in addition, it is very entertaining. It is impossible to describe how much value a child gets from playing chess.
When my son Eric was about 2 or 3, he showed interest in board games, so I asked my husband if he knew how to play chess. I didn't know how to play Chess at the time, but luckily my husband knew the basics, and volunteered to teach little Eric. Eric took to it immediately. One day, my husband and I walked into a computer store, to buy a piece of hardware, and in the back room, we saw a person sitting in front of the computer, playing Chess. We started a conversation with him, and found out that he was a Chess teacher. When we came home, we asked Eric if he would like us to find a teacher for him, and he was very excited about it.
After some looking around and making some phone calls (now I know exactly who to call and where to look) we found a new immigrant from Russia who was a gifted Chess teacher. Some of his students became very famous grandmasters. So we made an appointment with the teacher, and he played a game of Chess with our baby. He looked at us after the game and said, a little bit amazed: "he is making all the right moves, it is amazing". Eric was 4 at the time, and the teacher took him on as a student.
Since then, Chess has been a part of our life. Chess has enriched our lives a great deal. Thanks to Chess, we have traveled and seen some parts of the world and the country we would have never traveled to otherwise. Whenever we visited a new place, we always looked for a street corner or a coffee house where people play chess, and always met interesting people and made new friends. There is always something new to learn, and avid players spend a significant amount of time learning and practicing. Many people find enjoyment in participating in tournaments.
All over the country there are many chess clubs that encourage the participation of children, and many scholastic tournaments are taking place all over the country. Players of all skill levels are encouraged to play in tournaments, and players of similar skill levels are paired to play with each other.
What will your child learn from playing Chess?
- He will learn how to put together a plan, and follow up on it.
- He will learn to calculate a few moves ahead of time, based on memory and imagination.
- He will learn how to concentrate.
- He will learn the difference between strategy and tactics.
- He will learn to think before he acts. That every move has consequences.
- He will learn to play fair and to be courteous.
- He will improve his visual memory and visual discrimination.
- He will learn how to follow the rules.
- He will learn to take responsibility.
- He will learn to have patience.
- He will develop his creativity.
There are so many more benefits to studying and playing chess, that you will have to discover for yourself.
When we started taking little Eric to a kids' Chess club, we met some kids that were highly gifted. I will never forget a little boy, 8 years old, who played a game of "blindfold" chess with the teacher, who was a master. "Blindfold" means that the player is not looking at the board, and has to play the game out of memory. The little boy played a whole game out of memory, and beat the master.
The most successful children were the ones who started very early. Children who had an older sibling who played Chess, or a parent who played Chess, and had the opportunity to watch the game when they were babies.
If you have a baby, if possible let the baby watch people playing Chess. Do you play Chess? Wonderful! Let the baby watch. If you do not play Chess, find a Chess club in your neighborhood, a park or a coffeehouse and let the baby watch the games as long as the baby is interested.
Some babies will be fascinated and watch the game for a long time, some will watch just for a few minutes. No problem! Let the baby watch as long as it wants. Even a few minutes will do. Do it as often as possible.
At home, have a Chess board around, and occasionally just show the baby the different pieces, and mention their names. Do it a few times a day. This is a good start for a baby, to get acquainted with the Chess pieces.
When your child is ready (and the parents know best!), you can show him how to move the pieces. A little bit a day will do. Make sure that the child spends some time around Chess players and gets the opportunity to watch some games.
For school age children, the best thing to do is to sit with them, explain the game and play with them. If you don't enjoy Chess or don't know how to play, you can find a teacher, or a Chess club that accommodates children.
Here is a special word about girls and Chess: some of the best chess players are girls! Just look at the sisters Polgar, and many other female chess players. If you have a girl, encourage her to play chess, it is a most beneficial activity for girls, as well as boys.
There are many Chess computer games on the market, starting from very affordable programs, like Chessmaster, and up to very expensive software and dedicated Chess computers. They are all fine, but remember - when your child plays with human beings, he learns much more and enjoys himself a lot more. It is a completely different experience. So take my advice, let your child play with other children, or even adults. Computer games can be a good addition.
A good place to start is the Chess Federation of your country. Here, in the US, we are lucky to have a very active Chess federation, and many Chess activities for young children. Here are some helpful links and resources:
www.uschess.org/beginners - Ten Tips for Winning Chess
www.uschess.org - The US Chess Federation
www.fide.com - The World Chess Federation
For the last 26 years, Esther Andrews has studied, researched and practiced the ways to develop a child's intelligence. She also served as the principal of the School for Gifted Education. As a result of this experience, she developed her own method and philosophy, that proved to be extremely successful with her own 2 highly gifted children. In her web site, http://www.all-gifted-children.com , she helps parents develop their child's genius, and provide for their kids the opportunity to achieve their maximum potential.