Hi! My name is Sharan Subramanian and I’m a student at the University of Chicago. At first, I had started playing chess in middle school simply as a way to get involved and have a good time—since then it’s become so much more to me. From chess I’ve made many friends and, as a disciple of the game, have gained many skills that I know have helped me in school and in life. After graduating high school, I realized that while I had benefited from my involvement with chess, there were many people who hadn’t been shown the game or hadn’t really tried exploring the many opportunities that chess provides. It was then I decided to turn my passion for chess into a way that I could promote chess to everyone—especially children and teenagers— in the hope that many more people are able to discover the game, have fun, and reap the academic and practical benefits of such a beautiful art. Thus, in the summer of 2014, I started “Invest in Chess”—a chess advocacy initiative. I’m looking forward to the journey ahead and am tremendously excited by this opportunity to spread the royal game.
The Invest in Chess mission is not only to spread, teach, and promote chess, but also to raise awareness of its numerous practical and educational benefits. We hope to make it easier for more people to have access to chess because it is, truly, more than a game.
Especially in underprivileged communities, our goals are, more specifically, twofold: to use chess as a tool that can help increase the high school graduation rate and decrease the crime and violence among youth.
“The Game of Chess is not merely an idle amusement; several very valuable qualities of the mind, useful in the course of human life, are to be acquired and strengthened by it, so as to become habits ready on all occasions; for life is a kind of Chess match…” – Benjamin Franklin
As early as 1779, scholar, inventor, entrepreneur, and chess player Benjamin Franklin realized the game’s enormous value. Indeed– while chess may serve as a form of recreation, it is also an activity with immense and notably untapped potential to transform education, improve academic performance, and augment many important life skills. In a rapidly changing and increasingly competitive world, chess is perfectly poised as a fun and innovative tool to revolutionize education. Despite its ancient origins, chess is undeniably the modern solution to improving student performance in school and preparing children with crucial life skills.
There is an overwhelming amount of evidence that has proven the benefits of chess. Here is just a small sampling of scientific research and findings in favor of chess as an educational tool:
- “Chess can be helpful to children [because it stimulates] neurons in the front brain of the brain that’s underdeveloped in teenagers. That’s the part of the brain involved in decision making. Chess forces you to think ahead.” – Franco Campanella, neurologist (CBS Chicago)
- Multiple studies show that chess can “raise IQ scores…,enhance reading, memory, language, and mathematical abilities,” and “foster critical, creative, and original thinking” – Dr. Peter Dauvergne, Professor and Chess Master (University of Sydney)
- In 1996, psychologist Stuart Margulies, Ph.D found that “elementary school students in Los Angeles and New York who played chess scored approximately 10 percentage points higher on reading tests than their peers who didn’t play” – Beth Weinhouse, Deputy Editor of “Parenting” Magazine
- “In Marina, CA, an experiment with chess indicated that after only 20 days of instruction, students’ academic performance improved dramatically. George L. Stephenson, chairman of the Marina JHS math department, reported that 55% of students showed significant improvement in academic performance after this brief smattering of chess instruction” – Christine Palm, Author of “New York City Schools Chess Program”
- “[Chess] teaches the following skills: focusing, visualizing, thinking ahead, weighing options, thinking abstractly, and planning.” – Jerry Meyers, Chess Master
For more information on the benefits of chess and much more, visit our Resources page!