Kg1 Bc5+ … Kc1 Rc2#. Ever made a series of finishing moves like that? Confused?
Come on, you know what I’m talking about. They only made a full-length movie about it back in 1993.
OK, maybe the average chess player hasn’t accomplished or even understood the circumstances surrounding the series of moves that made up “the game of the century.” Bobby Fischer, then 13, beat veteran Donald Byrne in 1956.
Without argument, chess is a worldly game, a scholarly game and a competitive game. It’s both educational and confusing. Which begs the question: Is chess a game that makes you smarter?
“I’m not sure you can say that,” says Lawrence psychologist Marciana Vequist. “There is some research that shows that chess does help you to problem-solve, and I think that is one of the main benefits from it.”
Jeffrey Farrar has been playing chess seriously for more than four years. He says the game has dramatically influenced his life.
“Chess has taught me the nature of knowledge more than anything else,” he says. “It taught me how there are some very severe weaknesses in my own thinking.”
Here in Lawrence, chess is played starting at the elementary school level through adults.
“It’s a way of looking at different possibilities, analyzing things a few steps ahead, comparing two outcomes, assessing the situation,” says James Fouche-Schack, president of the Lawrence Chess Club, which meets 7 p.m.-10 p.m. Mondays at Borders, 700 N.H.. “It does improve something, but I don’t know that it makes you smarter to play it.”
But Vequist says it does improve your ability to make decisions.
“There are many people who just become overwhelmed with a set of problems. It kind of stops them, and their functioning starts to deteriorate. That can be a real big problem,” Vequist says. “The more creative we can be and the more solutions we can generate to problems, the less overwhelming they may seem.”
Most of all, chess is a social game for those who play. Dmitri Smith, 10, says he’s already figured that out. He plays during indoor recess and has since taught his father to play.
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