As a scholar the possibilities in chess are almost boundless. Not only are the developmental benefits, as described below, huge, but the opportunities to play are many and varied.
There are tournaments, school leagues, championships and even internet chess to participate in. And bearing in mind that chess does not prescribe as to age, gender or race, one could be competing against adults or even become World Champion while still at school.
Tournaments are fun and can last a morning, the whole day or stretch over several days. They usually have prizes for various sections and categories and these can often be in the form of cash. Many tournaments are rated which means that one can track your progress on the national database.
One of the biggest sporting events on the South African calendar are the Junior National Championships held at different venues and cities in December each year over a period of 10 days. It is truly a sight to behold as up to 2000 players sit down to compete for their provinces in the team championships and then for themselves in the individual age group championships. At stake are national titles and the opportunity to represent South Africa in international events.
For many players the experience lasts the whole year and often seems to be more about friends made, pranks played, impromptu soccer and cricket games or movies attended and visits to the local beach and attractions.
Contrary to the belief that chess players are nerds, we have observed that most chess players participate at a competitive level in other sports, as well as being good students.
Below are some more extracts regarding the benefits of chess for scholars.
In a Belgium study a chess-playing experimental group of fifth graders experienced a statistically significant gain in cognitive development over a control group, using Piaget's tests for cognitive development. Perhaps more noteworthy, they also did significantly better in their regular school testing, as well as in standardized testing administered by an outside agency which did not know the identity of the two groups. Quoting Dr. Adriaan de Groot: "In addition, the Belgium study appears to demonstrate that the treatment of the elementary, clear-cut and playful subject matter can have a positive effect on motivation and school achievement generally... From Chess House - Why study Chess?
The New York City Schools Chess Program included more than 3,000 inner-city children in more than 100 public schools between 1986 and 1990. Based on academic and anecdotal records only, Christine Palm writes that the Program has proven that: --Chess dramatically improves a child's ability to think rationally --Chess increases cognitive skills --Chess improves children's communication skills and aptitude in recognizing patterns, therefore: --Chess results in higher grades, especially in English and Math studies --Chess builds a sense of team spirit while emphasizing the ability of the individual --Chess teaches the value of hard work, concentration and commitment --Chess instils in young players a sense of self-confidence and self-worth --Chess makes a child realize that he or she is responsible for his or her own actions and must accept their consequences --Chess teaches children to try their best to win, while accepting defeat with grace --Chess provides an intellectual, competitive forum through which children can assert hostility, i.e. "let off steam," in an acceptable way --Chess can become a child's most eagerly awaited school activity, dramatically improving attendance --Chess allows girls to compete with boys on a non-threatening, socially acceptable plane --Chess helps children make friends more easily because it provides an easy, safe forum for gathering and discussion --Chess allows students and teachers to view each other in a more sympathetic way --Chess, through competition, gives kids a palpable sign of their accomplishments --Chess provides children with a concrete, inexpensive and compelling way to rise above the deprivation and self-doubt which are so much a part of their lives. From Chess House - Why study Chess?
African Woman's Open Chess Festival: