There is a "movement" towards teaching chess in school and perhaps introduce chess as its own subject. What are the advantages of teaching chess at schools? In what ways is chess similar to other school subjects (e.g. math)? What "life skills" will the students learn by learning chess?

  • The way this question is formulated, I find it hard to accept any answer given so far. Since the question itself assumes it is a good idea to teach chess, and on top of that, in schools. Hmmm.
    – user2001
    Commented Nov 9, 2014 at 22:19

6 Answers 6


What are the advantages of teaching chess at schools?

That depends. If you like chess, the advantage of having chess classes for free from good teachers (assuming they are good) is that you play your favourite game / learn something you like / have people to play with / all of this is free. It is really good for average chess players (who will be able to find steady income by teaching others).

But knowing this you have to understand that there are people who do not like chess. How will you feel if right now you will be forced to learn how to play the triangle (kind of funny musical instrument that I by myself find kind of lame). What would you think if your child instead of math/biology/whatever subject you find important would be wasting his time learning triangle/chess which in my opinion will not help his career (assuming he will not become pro triangle / chess player)?

Also forcing a child to do something is not a good way for him to like this something. I enjoy playing chess, but if when I was child I would be forced to go study chess - most probably I would hate this game. There are a lot of places for a person to play chess in his free time enjoying it, so why spoil the fun with compulsory things?

What "life skills" will the students learn by learning chess

What life skills will you gain by swimming / playing the triangle? You will not drown fast in case of flood. You will become a good swimmer. You will learn how to play the triangle and will be able to properly hear/understand music. People can argue that music will make you a better person, swimming will make you more fit, organized, but I am not aware of the proper studies conducted. What skills will you gain by training to solve IQ tests every day? Will you perform well in physics, economy, history, programming? Highly doubtful, and average person who spends 1/10 of your time learning one of these things will perform better. IQ tests will make you a better IQ test solver.

The same way with chess - by learning chess you will learn how to play chess, maybe will learn abstract thinking, thinking ahead and analyzing your options.

I by myself was speaking with some of the top 200 grandmasters and based on their discussion, chess is hard to make money on. You spend thousands of hours on learning preparation, dedication to mastery. And if you are not in top 20 it is really hard to get normal money out of it. Yes, you can publish books, create videos, participate in paid tournaments (which requires a lot of time and effort), but after this amount of time spent in economy you can secure a steady good income.

  • Your answer is food for thought and brings up important points. Your conclusion is that chess only teaches chess and not much other useful skills. Therefore, it should be an optional and not mandatory activity. Right?
    – user2001
    Commented Mar 20, 2014 at 7:19
  • 1
    The chess mostly teaches you how to play chess. It may be teaching you how to think ahead and abstract thinking, but if you want to learn abstract thinking I think there are other activities which will teach this better. I definitely think that forcing someone to play a game is not a proper way. If a child will like the game, he will find a way to learn. Right now there is huge amount of free chess websites, databases, books and other materials. Commented Mar 20, 2014 at 7:33
  • I think you're right. It's really the forcing kids to study chess that's bad. There's probably a tendency that those who are made to play it are also made to study it and learn it which is why a lot of those who are made to play it don't like it. I came up with a similar conclusion on my own before I read this answer that I remember. The brain has its own natural method of thinking which can make them really smart in their own way. I think that for a developing brain, they don't like doing things differently because it's not their natural method. Also for a developing brain, when they're
    – Timothy
    Commented Oct 10, 2019 at 5:15
  • stopped from using their own natural method of thinking by being made to study chess, I think their gaining of smartness slows down. I upvoted this answer because I like how you explained that forcing a child to play or study chess is bad.
    – Timothy
    Commented Oct 10, 2019 at 5:18

The Benefits of Chess in Education

Take a look at The Benefits of Chess in Education (original link) from the Kasparov Foundation, which gives a detailed overview about the benefits of teaching children to play chess.

The document describes among other things the following points:

Academic benefits

  • Focusing: Children learn to concentrate, because they have to if they want to play good
  • Visualizing: Children have to image a sequence of actions before it happens
  • Planning: Children need to plan longer goals and take steps towards them if they want to win
  • Weighing Options: Children need to weigh options. They are taught not doing the first thing that pops into their mind.
  • Furhtermore: thinking ahead, analyzing concretely, thinking abstractly, juggling multiple considerations simultaneously

Social benefits


  • ... often serves as a bridge to bring together children of any kind
  • ... helps building friendships
  • ... teaches sportsmanship (how to win graciously, how to lose - like in other sports clubs)
  • 2
    Thanks for the reference! What do you think are the three best points in this document? (If the link is "dead" someday, it would be nice if your answer kept some of the key information). Cheers.
    – user2001
    Commented Mar 21, 2014 at 12:26
  • 1
    I will edit my answer with some key points @RauanSagit ;)
    – mounaim
    Commented Mar 21, 2014 at 15:19
  • 1
    Link is finally dead, replaced it with an archived version.
    – TuringTux
    Commented Jul 29, 2016 at 9:31

The following study holds that chess in schools helps students with low-level gains in intelligence, but no high level gains. In other words, if I'm correct in my memory of the study it can teach "life lessons" like sports, but with no gains in intelligence versus sports. So, knowledge of the game would only lead to knowledge in the overlap of fields. Of course, depending upon your view as to the size of "chess-related" mathematics and computer science this would affect your judgement as to the effectiveness of teaching the game.

The paper is below, judge for yourself.

This flies in the face of what I first thought, but is an interesting take. As one who publishes in the field of "chess-related" mathematics and played scholastically for 12 years (yes 1st grade through 12th), I say the paper underestimates the vastness of the overlap between mathematics, computer science, and chess (not to mention sociology, philosophy, and other fields).



I think a lot of this debate centres around differences between boys and girls and men and women. If we are not allowed IQ or intelligence skills, then what could we possibly actually mean by "life skills" - sometimes, this is not an easy question either at the chess club,or in the classroom, or outside the pub at closing time.... I could go on. (But I won't). Will they eventually give us a "Life Quotient" and will it be measured by the number of kids you've got, or divorces you've experienced -- will it be means tested???? As I say I could go on.


Chess is a fun and interesting game to learn and play. It has many benefits for youngsters and thus it is important for the chess in schools to take shape. Founding my own project, where I teach chess to underprivileged and blind children, I discovered the many benefits of chess for these children.

  1. Chess builds up confidence and makes the players motivated.

  2. It also provides a recreation for the students who otherwise waste their time on television and video games.

  3. It provides a growth medium for the brain and is like a brain gym. In the future, the risk of Alzheimer can be prevented.

  4. Chess makes the player positive and focused.

  5. Chess also helps a player to excel in other school activities.

  6. It develops a strong personality for the player and helps the player to survive strong battles.

  7. It leads to a change in the thinking and pattern recognizing abilities. Improvement in both these areas are visible in most chess players.


There really cannot be any educational value in just knowing the moves of the pieces, or memorizing how to mate with a Rook, or making random moves on your side while another kid makes random moves on the other.

The justification has to be that a good teacher who is also a chess enthusiast will find the game to be an inexhaustible source of teachable moments, and will use these to convey valuable lessons whether thay are on the syllabus or not. Very few studies of the benefits or lack of benefits ever seem to describe HOW the game was taught, and therfore offer no valid basis for any conclusions

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