Neighbourhood schools these days are producing not just academically capable students but talented ones too.

One activity some schools are offering to nurture talents is chess.

For instance, chess is part of the curriculum for all Primary One students at Gongshang Primary.

The principal of Gongshang Primary School, Daisie Yip, said: “It’s really to train them through a game, through a fun way, to be analytical. The best take-away would be when I plan the next move, I’m actually thinking 2-3 moves ahead.

“So it’s really strategic thinking that we would really like our children to develop as young as possible. So why not play a game that offers this kind of skill for them? Also, when they start learning to play a game, they learn to be focused and through the nature of the game, they learn to be disciplined.”

The school plans to introduce chess and other mind games to its Primary 2 students next year.

Parents support the move because they’ve seen how their children have developed.

Usha Sivakumar, a parent, said: “He used to be a very quiet person, he doesn’t mix around with people. Now he interacts with people better and his thinking skills, of course, has improved a lot, especially when he does his Maths.

He scores very good marks for his Maths.” Another parent, Felicia Teoh, said: “In the past, he used to need me to prompt him to do his work. After playing chess for about 2 years, I notice that when he comes home, he’ll take out his work to do without me prompting.”

Through playing chess, the school is also trying to teach the students about respect, sportsmanship if they lose and about interaction with classmates of different races.

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Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar