Chess is the oldest and most popular game in the world. According to CBS News, the U.S. Chess Federation, the World Chess Federation and other sources, there are approximately 45 million people who play chess in America and more than 700 million worldwide.
Chess offers countless important benefits, especially for young people, and it will be the subject of a University Interscholastic League competition next year for elementary and middle school students in a pilot program proposed by the Texas Tech Susan Polgar Institute for Chess Excellence (SPICE), part of the Division of Institutional Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement.
The competition will be in the format of solving chess puzzles designed by me, similar to the ones that appear in this column, except that the puzzles will be ones designed for younger players. Competing students in grades two through eight will have 20 puzzles to solve in 30 minutes.
Elementary school students will choose their answers from multiple choice questions in which white can checkmate black in one move. Older students will have puzzles that are checkmates in one move and two moves.
According to Lynn Elms, the regional director for UIL, the pilot chess program is a historic moment for Texas Tech, which has a 75-year association with UIL. This is the first competition that Texas Tech has ever proposed.