Classroom Chess and Mathematics

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Chess is evolving – its purpose has moved towards the needs of schools. Whilst playing chess competitively remains an important motivating factor for many children, there is so much more that can be done. Chesss may be regarded not as one game but as a resource for all sorts of logical and mathematical mini-games, game variants and puzzles.
The rapid rise of classroom chess has been achieved by teaching the game from the simplest beginnings. By working with children on the basic components of the game, literally one piece at a time, they grow in confidence and enthusiasm. Rather than throwing children in at the deep end, modern educational methods have been used to deconstruct the game into digestible components.

Children love playing games. Chess is accessible and clearly fun to play. It presents intellectual challenges that are rarely met so early in other subjects of study. Although learning the moves is relatively easy, playing chess well requires concentration and logical analysis. Ultimately it is not about winning – it is about solving problems objectively.

Research to be revealed at the conference shows that playing chess is associated with improved exam results in mathematics. CSC is also looking forward to next year, when the results of a major two-year study, funded by the Educational Endowment Trust, will report on the academic impact of chess in the UK.

Chess is also having a positive impact on children with special educational requirements arising from autism, ADHD, dyscalculia and maths phobia etc. Many respond to chess interventions.

The conference will report on a new game competition. Using existing chess sets, these games can add variety to chess instruction and equalise disparate playing strengths. Another purpose of the competition is to encourage creative thinking.

Teachers visiting this conference will find a fascinating melting pot of truly innovative ideas from leading chess and mathematics thinkers from around the world. This is by far the most intensive conference ever devoted to this topic.

About John Foley

Director, London Chess Conference Member, Education Commission, European Chess Union Promoting chess as a way to develop thinking skills

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