Why Chess?

Chess has been called the game of kings and the king of games. Many think chess is "only a game." Many dismiss chess as "too hard" or only for the very smart or very old. Chess is many things and it is important for Calo families to know why there is so much chess at Calo.

Chess is ancient.  Many countries try to claim its origin.  All we can be sure of is that chess originated somewhere in the middle-east thousands of years ago and it spread to all parts of the globe.  The abilities, powers, and shapes of the pieces have evolved over time into their present form. Chess is taught in many countries as a standard and imperative part of the curriculum alongside of math, science, and literature. Computer programmers have only recently created chess programs which can equal and in some cases eclipse the power of the human mind. Scientists have studied the effects of chess instruction on learning.  These effects are well-documented.  These effects are why chess is so prolific at Calo.

In a controlled scientific study, students were divided into several groups.  One group received normal math instruction. A second group received the same math instruction mixed with chess instruction. The second group essentially had less pure math instruction. Even with this in mind, the second group outperformed the others regarding math problem-solving skills.

The effects on student reading scores are well-documented as well.  In scientific studies, students who learn chess have marked increases in reading ability, creativity, and problem-solving skills.  These increases in many cases have caused researchers to question their accuracy.  The results in many cases were too incredible to believe. What is it that chess does to the mind?

Brain researchers have found that playing chess literally causes the brain to grow.  It causes the brain to build dendrites.  This dendrite growth, math improvement, and reading improvement is not exclusive to master chess players. You dont have to be great at chess to reap these rewards. Regardless of IQ or chess abilities; chess makes you smarter.

Even if none of the above were true, chess has other impacts which make it imperative. Chess develops relationships. Personally, I have become closer to several students because we now have chess in common.  We seek each other out and it builds rapport. Coaches and teachers have been taught chess by Calo students- it is powerful to see. Calo students have developed friendships with other students who formerly had been only their acquaintance.

In addition, chess levels the playing field.  More than a few Calo boys have been bested by a few Calo girls on the chess board. This builds confidence and respect for all.  There are no lies on the chess board.

Recently one of our Calo girls proclaimed to me I beat my dad at chess! She was more than thrilled to have reached this goal- she had been studying chess for days and weeks prior to his visit at Calo.

Chess is fun and so much more.  For those who can overcome the falsehood that chess is too hard to learn; waiting for them is a life-long activity which can improve mental function, connect parents and children, and add enjoyment to life.