The Benefits of Learning Chess

Clive Hutchby


Dream List for Parents

There are many benefits that chess can bring for young people. Numerous studies, conducted in all corners of the globe, have shown that chess:

The list reads like a dream for parents and teachers: the sort of list that would make you wonder why every school in Ireland doesn’t run chess classes as standard.

This is because Ireland, in common with the USA and UK, does not view chess as a “sport” and, therefore, there is no state money at all in this country to support chess. This is in direct contrast to non-English speaking countries, where the majority offer government money and support to chess, recognising the enormous benefits that the game gives to young players.

The Irish Chess Union has been told that chess, because it is not a physical activity and thus not a sport, does not qualify for any government support – although talks are ongoing between the ICU and the Sports Council about this issue.

OK, if it’s not a sport, how can you explain this fact: Following the 1972 World Championship match between American Bobby Fischer and his Soviet counterpart Boris Spassky, a study was commissioned by the USA’s Temple University. Leroy Dubek, a physics professor at Temple, found tremendous stress on chess players, with blood pressure, breathing and heart rates increasing to a rate comparable to a professional footballer during a soccer match. Dubek found that during a 5-hour chess match a chess player could lose more in bodyweight than a boxer over a 12-round fight!

Garry Kasparov, world champion from 1985 to 2000 and the highest-rated player in the history of the game, says that in just ONE YEAR chess tuition will improve a student’s learning abilities. The Russian GM has set up a foundation to promote schools chess. His mission: to take chess out of the ghetto where it has languished far too long – and where mere games of chance belong.

Food for Thought

Things for parents to consider when supporting their children in chess:


Created 2006-07-30 ◦ Last updated 2017-06-10 ◦ Editor MO


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