Artwork by Mike Magnan

How the skills of chess keep pupils in check
October 19 2006

The world’s oldest game of skill is being used to teach tricks to a new generation of young people.

Chess, whether it was invented in India in the sixth century AD or earlier in China, is proving a 21st-century success in Scotland.

An innovative project to bring the game to Aberdeen’s primary schools is now being copied throughout Scotland and has been boosted by sponsorship, which will enable its expansion.

The chess project began as a pilot five years ago to help improve young people’s social and academic skills and has since grown to such an extent that Aberdeen now has the most comprehensive schools chess package in the UK.

The £8500 sponsorship will allow the creation of a national schools chess network led by Aberdeen Chess Academy.

The academy, a network of after-school chess clubs, was launched in 2004 and currently involves 13 schools in areas where there has traditionally been under-achievement.

David Leslie, a lifelong chess enthusiast and the full-time chess development officer, said research carried out by Aberdeen University on behalf of the Scottish Executive had shown the project had been hugely beneficial to the youngsters’ learning abilities. It found chess coaching helped form relationships between teachers, parents and pupils which acted as a catalyst for educational development.

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Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar