Did You Know?

Chess Benefits All!

  • Chess was invented about 1500 years ago in India. Since then, it has spread to every country in the world and is now played by an estimated 700 million people. The 2010 Chess Olympiad had teams from 141 countries.
  • Chess is part of the elementary school curriculum in nearly 30 countries. In Turkey, it is an elective course in all primary schools.
  • On December 17, 1992, New Jersey Governor Jim Florio signed into law a bill to establish chess instruction in public elementary schools. The bill states, "In countries where chess is offered widely in schools, students exhibit excellence in the ability to recognize complex patterns and consequently excel in math and science...."

Chess Increases Test Scores!

  • After chess was incorporated into the math curriculum in New Brunswick, Canada, in grades 2-7, the average problem-solving score increased from 62% to 81%.
  • One study (Margulies (1993)) concluded that playing chess enhances reading performance. A related study found that the group receiving instruction in chess and logic had higher reading scores than the control groups, which received additional instruction reading, math, or social studies.
  • Non-honors elementary students in a Chess Club showed twice the improvement of non-chess players in Reading and Mathematics between third and fifth grades on the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills.

Chess Improves Social Skills!

  • Chess teaches "impatient kids the value of hard work and delayed gratification" (Drummond, 2000) and allows them to channel aggression in a socially acceptable way (Vail, 1995). At one New York City school, suspensions and altercations decreased by at least 60% after a chess program was established. (Palm, 1990).
  • Chess allows students from varied socio-economic backgrounds to compete with each other on an equal footing. Any child who understands the basics of chess belongs in the group. Kids become friends as they analyze games together. With chess in common, kids learn to interact with others who are different, dispelling stereotypes and creating a stronger sense of community.

Chess has a Fascinating History!

  • What do Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Beethoven, Catherine the Great, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Sigmund Freud, Anwar Sadat all have in common? They all played chess.
  • Chess is the only game that has been played in multiple centuries and in many cultures. It is widely believed that more books have been written about chess than all other games combined. The earliest recorded game was played in the 10th century; the astronauts on the Soyuz spacecraft also played chess.
  • There is even a story that chess contributed to victory in the revolutionary war. General Rahl of the British Army received a note from a spy that George Washington was about to cross the Delaware and attack. The general was so immersed in a chess game that he put the note in his pocket unopened, where it was found when he was killed in the subsequent battle.

Chess is a Bridge to Future Technological Innovation!

  • Cognitive scientists showed that good chess players are like good scientists. Instead of trying to corroborate theories, they learn by looking for flaws in what they believe. (Nature Magazine, Aug. 8, 2004).
  • Chess is the foundation for artificial intelligence. British mathematician and computer science pioneer Alan Turing asked, "Can a machine think?" His "Turing Test" could be solved by a machine that could play chess indistinguishably from a strong human player.
  • Chess teaches kids how to think – to reject facile solutions and deceptions in favor of careful planning and analysis needed to a reach a goal.

It is the U.S. Chess Center’s mission is to bring these benefits to children, especially disadvantaged youth, in the Washington D.C. metro area.

  • World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov planted the seed for the U.S. Chess Center when he came to Washington, D.C., to promote using chess to battle drug use by children. After two pilot programs for kids in public housing, community leaders decided to establish a permanent chess program.
  • Since its founding in 1991, the U.S. Chess Center has taught more than 30,000 children the rules and etiquette of chess.
  • Although many of the Chess Center's students have won state and national championships, our greatest successes involve students who used the skills they learned from chess to succeed in school and break the cycle of poverty in which they grew up.