When you think of chess, you probably consider it a fun (albeit challenging) game that people of all ages can enjoy. But, chess is much more than a simple board game. Indeed, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone claiming chess and Candy Land have anything in common.
Chess is a thinking game. It requires strategy, foresight, and problem-solving – things absent from most other types of games. This is why researchers and teachers have been praising chess as a great tool for children’s development. In fact, in Armenia, children over the age of six must learn chess as a part of their education.
Whether you’re a parent or a teacher, teaching and playing chess with your children will undeniably offer many benefits.
Improved performance in school
There’s a reason Armenia treats chess like another subject: it’s been proven to increase academic performance. Studies have consistently shown a high correlation between playing chess and improved scores in math and reading. There’s a good reason for this. By its nature, the game improves:
- Spatial-reasoning ability
- Attention span
- Visual memory
- Critical thinking
Playing a game of chess exercises parts of the brain that are also useful for other (more practical) endeavors. That is to say, the same spatial-reasoning ability and attention span you need for chess can also be applied to reading and math.
A Boost in High Order Thinking
High order thinking is essentially any type of thinking process that requires any or all of the following:
- Creation of new knowledge
Chess requires all of these. Moreover, it involves the prediction and visualization of future possibilities. Thinking two or three or four moves ahead is vital for both a successful chess player and often a successful individual.
It’s not hard to see how stimulating high order thinking in chess can translate to better analytical skills in other areas as well.
More Creativity and Original Thought
One of the more surprising aspects of chess is that it can actually improve creativity and original thinking. Creativity sounds like a non-measurable attribute, but studies have shown that children who play chess offer more creative and original solutions to problems than those who do not play chess.
Again, this goes back to the nature of chess. It allows children to visualize many different possible outcomes or solutions in a contained setting, essentially building the brain to do just that in real-world situations. When you think of more possible outcomes, your thoughts are naturally going to become more and more original.
Chess is Universal
Chess transcends language, economic status, and age brackets. It does not prioritize “gifted” individuals, and it offers an almost universal benefit to all who play. On top of that, it’s genuinely fun.
While it may be 1,500 years old, chess is timeless. It has attracted some of the world’s greatest critical thinkers and countless casual game players. Certainly, you cannot ignore its benefits for children.
For parents, chess is a great way to nurture thinking outside the box and to spend quality time with your children. For teachers, chess can provide a method for improving overall academic performance while also offering a simple game to expand your students’ cognitive processes. Chess is a game that can have long-lasting developmental benefits for all children.
How SparkChess can help
The problem with most chess programs today is that they feel intimidating. They are often the kind of professional tools that grandmasters use for training. They feel hard and, even worse, boring.
A different kind of chess
We designed it from the start to be fun. It has a simple and intuitive interface suitable for kids and adults alike. It has a selection of board styles – from a fantasy theme great for sparkling imagination and attracting children’s attention to a serious diagram mode suitable for advanced players who want no distractions.
When playing against the computer, SparkChess Premium offers a suite of five unique characters. Thanks to our “secret ingredients”, these AI opponents feel more like human players rather than cold, merciless algorithms. They make mistakes, they have moods, they overlook details, sometimes they get bored. They play for variety, so each game you play against them will be different. In fact, people (and not just children) actually grow attached to them! The characters give a nice progression of difficulty and will keep players challenged for a long time.
Also unique to SparkChess is a suite of tools intended for the absolute beginners. SparkChess Premium has over 20 chess lessons covering chess rules, chess openings and the basic chess strategies, as well as an analysis tool that explains in plain English which side has the advantage and why.
Playing chess with friends
SparkChess also has a vibrant online multiplayer community. 100,000 monthly players come online to play chess with friends or challenge someone new.
We took precautions in making the online experience a safe and enjoyable one. First, we collect the absolute minimum personal information. We aim to provide a great online experience, not collect behavior or personal data. Players who register will be first asked if they’re under 13 years of age. We only ask users to provide an username and password and, if above 13, an email address for password-recovery purposes.
We try to block offensive usernames or avatars. There’s a chat feature during games that is disabled by default and it’s disabled permanently for children under 13.
Once online, players can challenge one another, so they can play with their friends if they want. There’s also a filtering feature – players can play only with other players with similar scores, or from the same country, or from the same subnet. The last filtering option is very nice especially for friends or family members who want to play while connected on the same wifi network. They’ll only see each other, ignoring all other players.
For clubs and schools we can also create members-only password-protected game areas.
Of course, we encourage parents and teachers to monitor children’s online activities – there’s no substitute for actual involvement.
Available on all platforms
SparkChess is available on all major platforms – Windows, Mac, iPhone/iPad and Android. It can also be run online in any modern browser so it’s available even on Chrome OS , Linux, and more.
Contact us if you require more information.
You can also read about more fun learning activities with your kids.