“Beware the ides of March,” but this March 15, 2008, it was all fun and chess at New York Public School 70. Outside rumbles the perpetual roar of the Cross Bronx Expressway. Inside, “Chess in the schools” provided a chance and the incentive for about 400 students to get away from the Television, mindless electronic games and street hangouts to improve their problem solving skills and enjoy some individual and team chess competition in all categories.
Working hard with volunteers, Tournament Director Shaun Smith states that their primary mission is to improve academic performance and build self-esteem among inner-city public school children.
From the Chess In The Schools web site:
How does learning chess make a difference?
In 1991 and 1996, Stuart M. Margulies, Ph.D., a noted educational psychologist, conducted two studies examining the effects of chess on children’s reading scores. The studies demonstrated that students who participated in the chess program showed improved scores on standardized tests. The gains were even greater among children with low or average initial scores. Children who were in the non-chess playing control group showed no gains.
Another study in 1999 measured the impact of chess on the emotional intelligence of fifth graders. The results of the study were striking. The overall success rate in handling real life situations with emotional intelligence was 91.4% for the children who participated in the Chess-in-the-Schools program. In contrast, those who were not involved with the chess program had an average overall success rate of only 64.4%.
Whether a Veteran chess coach like Chris “Mr. King” Kerrigan of the East Bronx Academy for the Future or a student new to tournament play, such as Christian Bain who stepped up to represent The New School for Arts and Sciences, the program provides an outlet for creative energy.
When it comes to quality thinking, stimulating focused thought, discipline and problem solving, no one gets Checkmated at “Chess in the Schools.”
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