Anecdotally, we have seen firsthand the numerous benefits children receive from chess. But you don’t have to take our word for it. Research studies also suggest that involvement in a chess program can have many positive effects on a child, from improved academic performance to stronger feelings of self-confidence and self-worth. Below are some of the benefits of chess as summarized in “Chess improves academic performance” (Palm 1990).

Chess Makes Kids Smarter

Some of the academic and social benefits attributed to chess are improved critical thinking and problem solving skills, higher reading and math achievement, higher standardized test scores, and stronger feelings of self-confidence and self-worth.
A few studies that illustrate the connection between chess and academic performance:

  • “Chess education has a substantial positive effect on analytical thinking skills which are important in math, engineering and the physical sciences. The impact was particularly strong among girls.” Smith and Sullivan (1997)
  • “Chess … reinforces skills in logical and abstract thinking, impulse control, endurance and determination. [Illustrated by] a significant improvement in both verbal and non-verbal IQ scores after three years of chess instruction.” Van Zyl (1991)
  • “Chess significantly increased student scores in non-verbal intelligence, which reflected increased abilities in abstract reasoning and problem solving.” Celone (2001)
  • “Students receiving chess instruction scored significantly higher in standardized tests of both math and reading.” Liptrap (1997)

Chess Builds Confidence and Social Skills

The New York City Schools Chess Program (NYCHESS) has anecdotally shown that for inner city school populations, chess:

  • instills in young players a sense of self-confidence and self-worth;
  • dramatically improves a child’s ability to think rationally;
  • builds a sense of team spirit while emphasizing the ability of the individual;
  • teaches the value of hard work, concentration and commitment;
  • makes a child realize that he or she is responsible for his or her own actions and must accept their consequences;
  • teaches children to try their best to win, while accepting defeat with grace;
  • provides an intellectual, competitive forum through which children can assert hostility, i.e., “let off steam”, in an acceptable way;
  • allows girls to compete with boys on a non-threatening, socially acceptable plane;
  • helps children make friends more easily because it provides an easy, safe forum for gathering and discussion;
    through competition, gives kids a palpable sign of their accomplishments

Source: “Chess Improves Academic Performance” Christine Palm, 1990.