Saturday, 11 July 2009

Scholastic Chess, Reasoning and Training Executive Function

Scholar's mate - white to move.
[1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nc6 3. Qh5, Nf6]

What is the benefit of having a scholastic chess program in schools?

It seems to me that the beneficial effects of chess may simply be that it provides a positive stimulus to helping the child to learn how to learn. Binet and Simon in 'The development of intelligence in children' (1916), when writing about the definition of intelligence, come to the following conclusion:
... what they should learn first is not the subjects ordinarily taught, however important they may be; they should be given lessons of will, of attention, of discipline; before exercises in grammar, they need to exercised in mental orthopedy; in a word they must learn how to learn.
This conclusion seems just as important now as it was revolutionary back then (1916). The difference now is that we are developing a real understanding about the importance of the critical literacy skill, reasoning. This fundamental cognitive skill helps to integrate the other three R's - reading writing, arithmetic. The executive system is the theorized cognitive system that controls and enables reasoning and the other cognitive processes. Integration of executive function training into school curriculums must be an important priority.

Regarding chess training in schools, it is important that the learning focus should be around reasoning, problem solving, planning, and the application of falsifiability in decision making. Simply learning about openings, tactics training, and simple pattern recognition is unlikely to have any enduring cognitive benefit.

Related Posts:
ALCHEssMIST: Chess Research - Language Impairment and Visual Immediate Memory in Children
ALCHEssMIST: Playing Chess May Benefit Schizophrenia Patients

Posted by ALCHEssMIST .

The "Chess Wear Your Heart On Your Sleeve Award" Goes To - Garry Kasparov

To "wear your heart on your sleeve" means to express your emotions freely and openly so that all around you can see. In competitive zero-sum games it may be a liability to exhibit this behaviour particularly where the precipitant may not be obvious to your competitor.

Chess is an example of a perfect information game. In imperfect information games such as poker, it is very important that the player try and hide their emotions as much as possible. Even still, subtle emotional hints may leak out and be noticed by a skilled opponent. These subtle behaviour changes in the game of poker are known as tells.

The above game between Garry Kasparov and Vishy Anand, clearly shows the devastation felt by Kasparov after realising he had missed the strong previous move by Anand. This clip will go down as one of the all-time great examples of "wearing your heart on your sleeve".

In politics, it is best to remember the advice of Margaret Thatcher, ex-Prime Minster of the United Kingdom:
To wear your heart on your sleeve isn't a very good plan; you should wear it inside, where it functions best.
Margaret Thatcher

Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov to Play Match in Valencia (21st-24th September 2009)

Karpov & Kasparov (New York, 2002):

Good news via Kasparov and Karpov are to play a chess match from 21st to 24th of September 2009 in Valencia, Spain. The format of the 12 game match is apparently going to be 4 rapid (or semi rapid) games and 8 blitz games.

Scottish Chess Championship 2009 (Edinburgh City Chambers) & Past Winners

Edinburgh City Chambers
[Photo by © ronnie leask, Creative Commons]

The Scottish Chess Championship is the oldest continually running chess event in the world, with an unbroken link since 1884. The event is currently being held at the Edinburgh City Chambers (High St, Edinburgh) from 1th - 19th July (official site).

Grandmaster participants in this year's championship include:
  • Arakhamia-Grant, Keti (Scotland, Elo 2506)
  • Hebden, Mark (England, Elo 2468)
  • Markos, Jan (Slovakia, Elo 2555)
  • McNab, Colin (Scotland, Elo 2474)
  • Motwani, Paul (Scotland, Elo 2503)
  • Panchanathan, Magesh Chandran (India, Elo 2493)
  • Prasad, S. Arun (India, 2556)
  • Rowson, Jonathan (Scotland, Elo 2591)
  • Shaw, John (Scotland, Elo 2462)
  • Summerscale, Aaron (England, Elo 2454)
Past winners of the Scottish Chess Championship include: