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A Survey of Chess Research

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A range of studies and research findings support the benefits of chess in the cognitive development
of children and improvement in both verbal and numerical skills.
Much of the material has been assembled by the

US Chess Federation

in connection with its education activities, as well as by the

American Chess School

Among the research efforts cited is The Zaire Study: Chess and Aptitudes that was conducted by Dr. Albert Frank
at the Uni Protestant School (now Lisango School) in Kisangani, Zaire.
This experiment was conducted during the 1973-74 school year.

The study was intended to confirm two hypotheses about the effect of various abilities on chess skills,
as well as the influence of learning chess on the increase of certain abilities.
The second hypothesis had not been the subject of previous experimental study,
and is highly significant in the current attempt by the
American Chess School and the USCF to establish the educational value of chess.
The results of this experiment are viewed as very impressive.
After only one year of chess study, the students participating in the chess course showed a marked development
of their verbal and numerical aptitudes.

This positive development was true for the majority of the chess students, not just the better players.
From this it is possible to conclude that the introduction of chess as a regular elective course in our high schools
would be of positive benefit (corresponence from Harry Lyman, 1981).

The Chess and Cognitive Development research was directed by Johan Christiaen.
The experiment was conducted during the 1974-76 school years at the Assenede Municipal School in Ghent, Belgium.

The trial group consisted of 40 fifth grade students (average age 10.6 years).
The experimental group received 42 one-hour class lessons using Jeugdschaak (Chess for Youths) as a textbook.
Christiaen queried: "Can an enriched environment (chess playing) accelerate the transition from
the concrete level (stage 3) to the formal level (stage 4)?"
So the real question is:
"Can chess promote earlier intellectual maturation?"
The average annual increase in percentile score for the chess group was 17.3%.
Nationally, students who take this test at yearly intervals do not show a gain in percentile ranking.

The second aspect tested in this study is that of creative thinking.
While the entire class group made superior gains over the other groups in all three areas,
the aspect that demonstrated the most significant growth was originality.
It should be noted that several researchers have found
that gains in originality are customary for those receiving creativity training.

The Venezuelan Learning to Think Project tested whether chess can be used to develop the intelligence of children,
as measured by the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children.
Both male and female children showed an increase of intelligence quotient (IQ)
after less than a year of studying chess in the systematic way adopted.
Most students showed a significant gain after a minimum of 4.5 months.

The general consensus is that chess, methodologically taught, is an incentive system sufficient
to accelerate the increase of IQ in elementary age children of both sexes at all socio-economic levels.
It appears that this study also includes very interesting results regarding transfer of chess thinking to other areas of study.

The New York City Schools Chess Program (NYCHESS)
conducted a significant study of the impact of chess over several years.
More than 3000 inner-city children in more than 100 public schools had participated in the program between 1986 and 1990.
This report evaluates the reading performance of 53 elementary pupils who participated in the chess program
The Margulies study conclusively proved that students who learned chess enjoyed a significant increase in their reading skills.
Inside Chess (February 21, 1994, page 3) states:
"The Margulies Study is one of the strongest arguments
to finally prove what hundreds of teachers knew all along--
chess is a learning tool."

Etude Comparative sur les Apprentissages en Mathematiques 5e Annee by Louise Gaudrea (30 June 1992)
has not yet been translated but offeres some of the most exciting news yet about chess in education,
according to the American Chess School.
The study took place in the province of New Brunswick
from September 1990 through June 1992.

Three groups, totaling 437 fifth graders, were tested in this research.
The control group (Group A) received the traditional math course throughout the study.
Group B received a traditional math curriculum in first grade and thereafter an enriched program with chess and problem solving instruction.
The third group (Group C) received the chess enriched math curriculum beginning in the first grade.

There were no significant differences among the groups as far as basic calculations on the standardized test were concerned.
However, there were statistically significant differences for Group B and C in the problem-solving portion of the test
(21.46% difference in favor of Group C over the Control Group)
and on the comprehension section
(12.02% difference in favor of Group C over the Control Group).
In addition, Group C's problem solving scores increased from an average of 62% to 81.2%.
Not only is this statistically significant,
but also the addition of chess to the math curriculum
has exploded scholastic chess in New Brunswick.

Dr. Peter Dauvergne,
a Canadian chess master and Senior Lecturer at the University of Sydney,
has written on chess research conducted around the world,
in addition to activities in Australia and his native Canada.
He has also examined studies conducted in the United States, Venezuela, France, and Zaire.

Additional Online References Extolling the Virtues of Chess

The virtues of chess are not a secret of The West. An organization in China,

publishes a study entitled,
"Why Kids Who Play Chess Outperform Their Classmates,"
that is broken into three parts:
Part I Part II Part III

Among the books offered by Random House, Inc. is
The Immortal Game

Included on their site is a
with discussion of the connection between chess and math.

Many countries around the world have chess organizations,
each serving functions that the USCF serves for the United States,
one of which being the calculation of individual player ratings based on performance.
This rating system was designed by Arpad Elo,
and is explained on Wikipedia.
The world wide counterpart to national chess organizations is the
Federation Internationale des Echecs

(Known as "FIDE") On their page, FIDE also has
information discussing the benefits of chess.

The Government of Scotland
also has online lierature
discussing a connection between literacy and chess.

The Boylston Chess Club

has additional information on their contributions page.

Michael Atherton, in a collaboration with William M Bart
at the University of Minnesota
has published a paper on the neuroscientific basis
of the connection between the development of talent and chess.

The University of Edinburgh
has a Chess and Education compilation in their
Study of Chess as an Educational Tool web project.

The Oak Hill Montessori School
has discussion of the benefits of chess
on their website and includes a chess club
in their extracurricular activities.

Chess for Education is an additional organization
devoted to the promotion of chess in the curricula of all schools.

Dr. Robert Ferguson has compiled a web page
he calls Chess in Education Research Summary
that cites afforementioned and other studies on the benefits of chess.

The USCF Scholastic Council has published a Table Summarizing Chess Studies.

Chess for Success has compiled some additional chess benefit research on their web page.

The Australian Chess Federation also cites additional evidence.

The Fayette County Public Schools have additional documentation on the matter.

Schoolhouse Chess has a useful link page for chess studies online documentation.

Math and Chess has posted the Dr. Peter Dauvergne paper on their web site.

The New York Times did a story about research that studied the way chess stimulates both sides of the brain to work together to produce a single skill.

The Webmaster of this site, Kayven Riese,
has a list of personal games.
Currently, website upgrades involving procurement
for a dedicated, static IP, freeBSD
(ironically, not legally to be confused with original UNIX)
web server,
and software upgrades for
improved human user interface design
are in progress.
Expect a significant expansion of data throughput capability soon.