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Facts: Chess And Education

Chess is part of the curricula in nearly 30 countries. In Venezuela, Iceland, Russia and other countries, chess is a subject in all public schools. [8]

In Vancouver, BC, the Math and Chess Learning Center, recognizing the correlation between chess playing and math skills development, has developed a series of workbooks to assist Canadian students in math. [42]

In Harriet Geithmann's article ``Strobeck, Home of Chess,';' The National Geographic Magazine, May 1931, pp. 637-652, we find that this medieval village in the Harz Mountains of Germany has taught the royal game in its public schools for years. Chess began in Strobeck in 1011. [37]

In "Chessmen Come to Life in Marostica,'' The National Geographic Magazine, November 1956, by Alexander Taylor, pp. 658-668, we see an Italian town reviving a romantic legend of the Middle Ages, in which suitors played chess for the hand of a lady fair. [43]

The mathematics curriculum in New Brunswick, Canada is a text series called Challenging Mathematics, which uses chess to teach logic and problem solving from grades 2 to 7. Using this curriculum, the average problem-solving score of pupils in the province increased from 62% to 81%. The Province of Quebec, where the program was first introduced, has the highest math grades in Canada, and Canada scores better than the USA on international mathematics exams. [19], [20], [40]

Former U.S. Secretary of Education Terrell Bell encouraged knowledge of chess as a way to develop a preschooler's intellect and academic readiness. [39]

The State of New Jersey passed a bill legitimizing chess as a unit of instruction within the elementary school curriculum. On December 17, 1992, New Jersey Governor Jim Florio signed into law a bill to establish chess instruction in public schools. A quote from 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...'' [41]

Funding for chess activity is available under the ``Educate America Act'' (Goals 2000), Public Law 103-227, Section 308.b.2.E.: ``Supporting innovative and proven methods of enhancing a teacher's ability to identify student learning needs and motivating students to develop higher order thinking skills, discipline, and creative resolution methods.'' The original wording of this section included ``such as chess'' and passed Senate that way, but the phrase was deleted later in Conference Committee. [19]


  1. Robert Ferguson, “Chess in Education Research Summary,” paper presented at the Chess in Education A Wise Move Conference at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, January 12-13,1995.
  2. Albert Frank, “Chess and Aptitudes,” doctoral dissertation, 1974, Trans. Stanley Epstein.
  3. Johan Christiaen, “Chess and Cognitive Development,” doctoral dissertation, 1976, Trans. Stanley Epstein.
  4. Donna Nurse, “Chess & Math Add Up,” Teach, May/June 1995, p. 15, cites Yee Wang Fung’s
  5. Robert Ferguson, “Teaching the Fourth ‘R’ (Reasoning) through Chess,” School Mates, 1(1), 1983, p. 3.
  6. Robert Ferguson, “Developing Critical and Creative Thinking through Chess,” report on ESEA Title IV-C project presented at the annual conference of the Pennsylvania Association for Gifted Education, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, April 11-12, 1986.
  7. Robert Ferguson, “Teaching the Fourth ‘R’ (Reflective Reasoning) through Chess,” doctoral dissertation, 1994.
  8. Isaac linder, “Chess, a Subject Taught at School,” Sputnik: Digest of the Soviet Press, June 1990, pp. 164-166.
  9. Rafael Tudela, “Learning to Think Project,” Commission for Chess in Schools, 1984, Annex pp. 1-2.

Material excerpted or adapted from the Illowa Chess Club: TEACHER'S GUIDE: RESEARCH AND BENEFITS OF CHESS by Dr. Robert C. Ferguson