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The values of chess in education

3 min. reading
Culture, Sport / 26 September, 2018

Raúl Benito Corporate Communications

Chess, considered a sport by the International Olympic Committee, is an intellectual game requiring concentration, calculation and the ability to analyse. But the most important thing is that it can be played from the age of three and there is no upper age limit. Discover with BBVA how the values of chess can be used to provide an innovative education. Chess is a transversal and interdisciplinary tool In the historic agreement between the European Parliament and the Kasparov Chess Foundation in 2012, the majority of member states made a commitment to include chess as a subject on their school curricular and/or as a learning method, especially in the areas of mathematics, history and reading comprehension. The list of chess's merits in the field of education is endless. However, what stands out most of all in a world dominated by a multitude of external stimuli, is the game's use as an educational instrument. According to Leontxo García, who has over 30 years experience and is author of the 'El Rincón de los Inmortales' (The Immortals' Corner) column in El País, "I don't know of any pupil who is bored in class when chess is used as an educational tool". The intelligence of children who learn chess at school develops in many different facets, including their emotional intelligence. However, they also improve their academic performance and develop an interest for other disciplines like art and music. Nonetheless, the truth is that it does not require any special intelligence to play this sport. But you do need to increase your capacities of critical thinking, emotional control, conflict resolution and flexible thinking. Concrete examples of the application of chess in education can be found in the work of Juan Luís Jaureguiberry, the Argentinean author of 'Jaque a las fracciones' (Checkmate the fractions). Jaureguiberry refers to the case of a girl that learnt to draw slanted rectangles thanks to the movement of the bishops - in most schools children only learn how to draw straight rectangles -.  The additional learning here, is that in geometry there is no need for figures to be straight. Another specific example is that of Adriana Salazar, Colombian national champion between 1981 and 1996, and author of the book 'Juega el maestro y ganan los niños' (The master plays and the children win). Here she recounts how children learn laterality, psychomotor skills, logical thinking and respect for the rules by using chess in physical education classes; the pupils play games on giant chessboards where they take the roles of the pieces they represent. The values of chess Among the educational values that players learn in the first few years are self-criticism, knowing how to win and lose, empathy, adapting to the environment and time control. These students are the professionals of the future - and they will be working in jobs that we do not even recognise to solve problems that we cannot even imagine - they will have developed the two vital qualities in the current labour market: flexible thinking and quick decision-making.
Since 2005, the best chess player has not been human, but a machine.
Chess and computers You may have heard of 'Deep Blue', the IBM supercomputer which in 1997 beat Gari Kasparov. This was the turning point in the relationship between man and the machine. However, what we must understand about this case is that it was not the machine that won, but rather Kasparov that lost: because he could not control his emotions and played at a far lower level than usual. With the boom in new technologies, particularly in the fields of artificial intelligence, machine learning and the latest big data techniques, a new world of opportunities has opened up, where chess is an area of constant experimentation and shared learning.