The value of chess for children may be much more than entertainment and amusement. Many parents, teachers, researchers, and others are convinced that "Chess Makes Kids Smart" (a slogan coined by the United States Chess Federation) is much more than an empty public-relations promise. Math teacher and chess-club sponsor Jan Brandt, a Richmond, Virginia, Mother of four, describes chess as "probably the best game there is for developing logical, precise thinking."
In Brandt's view, chess also helps to encourage patience, sharp memory, the ability to concentrate, problem solving skills, and the understanding that certain behaviors carry certain consequences, Pete Shaw, a computer-science teacher, has taught hundreds of kids in Pulaski, Virginia, to play chess. "It's like turning on switches in their heads," he says. "You feel as though you can watch the brain working through a window. The game demands both inductive and deductive reasoning. You see the kid looking at a problem, breaking it down, and then putting the whole thing back together. The process involves recall, analysis, judgment, and abstract reasoning." A link between mathematics skills and chess skills has been suggested by some researchers in this field. Jeffrey Chesin, who teaches inner-city kids in Philadelphia, agrees that the thought processes in math and chess are similar. "But that's not the whole story," he adds. "Youngsters who are good in chess will probably be good in math or in any problem-solving situation," Chesin says, "but kids who excel in math will not necessarily be good chess players." Children do not have to be particularly bright to enjoy chess. Chesin maintains. "The majority of the kids I work with would be considered 'average.' Some are below average. But they get interested, and they work hard at it. Determination is definitely a factor." For some players, both children artistic. "Chess should be played creatively,"
Lubomir Kavalek of Reston, Virginia, maintains. Kavalek, one of the world's top players, believes that "while there is obviously a certain logic one should follow, there is room for intuition and fantasy, for original thought, for taking each situation as it comes, rather than always relying on particular rules."