Can playing chess make you smarter? – Maybe not!

can chess make you smarter?

When you think of someone who plays chess on a regular basis, there is a good chance that you are going to think of someone who is clever as well as good at maths. With this in mind, it is little wonder that many children around the world are encouraged to try their hand at playing chess. These parents will often think that the game could be a great boost to the child’s intelligence levels, which can have a positive impact on their school work as a whole.

It is true that chess is a fantastic game to master, it has a rich history, however, is there any evidence that it can make you smarter? Or is it the case that those people who choose to play chess may already be considered above the usual level of intelligence?


Chess is a brain game

The idea that chess can make you smarter might come from the fact that the game itself requires concentration and intelligence. Not only does this help your brain to focus, but many people think that it also can help you to improve your own academic abilities and achievements too.

In order to find out more about whether or not there is actually a link, the Institute of Education decided to run an investigation of whether or not chess had an impact on academic skill. As part of the test they looked at almost 4,000 British children.

This particular study seemed to produce some rather disappointing results, in these children the overwhelming result was that chess provided no effect on the attainment levels of in mathematics, literacy or science.

Despite this, the chess community questioned these results and their reliability. They stated that other studies had provided a much more optimistic picture with regards to the academic benefits of chess.


Is there any truth in the chess communities claims?

It is thought that the when it comes to the claims of chess and the effects it has on children, that there may be a number of shortcomings in the methodologies of the Institute of Education study. This could go as far as to invalidate the results that have been found.

Other studies have found that chess could in fact have a moderate impact on the cognitive ability of those who play it on a regular basis. Particularly in mathematics, which we all know can be hard to master.

However, there is one main issue with this finding. Namely, that there have been no other comparative studies as to whether or not there are other activities which can have an impact on cognitive and academic skills. Skills and activities that induce feelings of fun or excitement can be known to give a positive temporal effect on test scores, a placebo effect if you like.

Could this apply to chess? The chances are that it may.


brain image


So, is it worthwhile trying out chess?

Whilst there may be no correlative link between chess and increased cognitive or academic abilities, that doesn’t mean that there is no point trying it out. Chess is a great activity to get children thinking and try to encourage them to think about things in a different way. It is also ideal as a boredom buster, particularly on a rainy day and is more interactive and bonding them simply allowing them to play on a games console.

Not only this, but chess can also have a positive impact on some aspects of their learning, namely their mathematical skills, which can prove valuable to them as they learn and grow.


How to get started with chess

Think that you would like to try out chess with your child? Not sure where to start? The best place, much like many things with children, is to make sure that they see chess as something fun that you can do together, as opposed to a learning activity which they “have to do”.

You also do not want to overwhelm them with too much information. Chess can be a complicated game and one that can take a while to master, this means that you should do your best to break it down and make it simple and easy to understand.

Not only this but you also need to take time with them. Not getting frustrated if they are taking some time to understand it, after all, it may seem obvious to you, but it might not to your child.

Another top tip when it comes to chess with children is that you need to try your best to make it fun. Of course the traditional chess sets might be the most appealing to you, however, for your children it might make sense to try out some of the themed sets that you can buy.

Chess might not always jump to mind when it comes to an activity with your child, however, it really is one that is worthwhile trying out. It can help them with some of the basic skills that they may need for school and whilst it may not make them a genius, it can help to train their brain and get them thinking.

If you are not sure on how to play chess yourself, it can also be a fun thing to learn together. There are a variety of online guides, both written and video that can teach you the basics of chess and help you to pass on this information to your child.

In no time at all you may find  yourselves looking forward to your chess sessions and spending some time together, even if it does get competitive after a while!