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The Game of

CHESS

hess is a classic game of strategy, which was invented more than 1,500 years ago in India. Legend has it that the ruler of India asked his wise men to devise a way to teach the children of the royal family to become better thinkers and better generals on the battlefield. Chess was the result.

Chess is a game of skill in which two players move objects called men on a board divided into squares.

The chessboard is divided into 64 squares arranged in eight rows of eight squares each. The squares are alternately light and dark in colour. Players sit at opposite ends of the board each with a light coloured square at the right-hand corner. Each player uses a set of the men. The player who uses the light coloured set is called white. The player who uses the dark coloured set is black. Players then arrange their pieces and the game begins.

White always moves first in a chess game. The players alternate moves. Most chess games are played in three stages:

a) the opening
b) the middle game
c) the end game.

The Federation Internationale des Echecs (FIDE) governs chess internationals. FIDE holds a match every two years to determine the world chess champion.

 Tournament games are played within a time limit. Players must make a certain number of moves within a given time period.

This interesting indoor game, if introduced in schools, will directly contribute to better academic performance. Once the students become familiar with the basics of the game, they will appreciate the finer nuances of the game. If children learn the game, it will teach them valuable lessons, for example, how to effectively manage time. Playing the game within time limits helps students train in time management. The game also helps children develop concentration, observation, self-discipline, planning and much more. In short, it makes them smarter.

Strategise: Chess, as we said earlier, is a game of strategy. What is strategy? Strategy was originally a term applied to warfare; it was defined as “the art of planning and directing larger military movements and the operations of war? You play the game of chess with limited “forces? Your strategy starts on the chequered board. Both players begin on the same plain, on the same level, both having their goals intact - to attack the opponent’s king, checkmate him. Both players attack and defend. Each one’s goal is clear. Like the two chess players, let us set our goals in life - after all, the principles and strategies for setting goals are the same. The main objective is to set realistic goals. Keep your eye on the goal and, like chess players, make a single move at a time, take one step at a time, to get there.

Remain focused: Focusing helps children to observe carefully and concentrate. In the game of chess, if you don’t watch what is happening, you cannot respond to it, no matter how smart you are.

Have a vision: Like chess players, children are taught to imagine a sequence of actions before it takes place. This strengthens their ability to visualise by training them to shift the pieces in their mind, first one, then several moves ahead. It will help them to visualise the next move, they learn to move their players one at a time and one step at a time. They are trained to think, plan, rethink, observe and question. Their brain cells are activated so they move on to sharpen their thinking skills and begin to THINK AHEAD.

Weigh your options: Children learn to think first, then act. Like the player, he begins to think: “What will be his next move??He is trained to weigh options, he learns not to act impulsively. He learns to identify alternatives. He is taught that he doesn’t have to do the first thing that pops into his mind. He learns to consider the pros and cons of various actions.

Evaluate: Children learn to evaluate the results of specific actions. Does this help me or hurt me? Decisions are better when guided by logic rather than impulse. They realise that the result of the first action will lead to the next and hence they have to constantly analyse, think, rethink and act.

Like the moves of the chess pieces, the child is trained when to move backward, forward, or step back, he learns to weigh various factors all at once and consider various options. He learns to juggle multiple considerations simultaneously.

Planning: Children are taught to develop longer-range goals and to take steps towards achieving them. They are also taught the need to re-evaluate their plans as new developments change the situation. Children learn to make long-term plans, to have a goal and strategy with limited forces. They are trained to achieve their goals with the available forces. In a game of chess, or for that matter in life, all strategic planning first involves setting objectives; once your objective or goal is set, you plan towards working on reaching the goal. Remember, the opponent is also working on strategies; so we need to consider and evaluate the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

Sometimes the step we take may involve a great measure of risk. But if we need to achieve our goal then we have to take a risk. The risk factor needs to be carefully assessed. Our risks need to be calculated risks like those of the chess player whose moves are calculated moves. Never underestimate your opponent. You may encounter obstacles along the way, so THINK before making your next move. As in chess, it is important to make the RIGHT move in life. The available “forces?will help you achieve your goal. Keep changing moves and strategies and above all, BE PREPARED TO ACCEPT THE CHALLENGE.

Saraswati Iyer
Udayachal High School