Life Lessons Chess Can Teach Your Children

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Many people find chess a bit too intellectual to be enjoyed. In a way, they have a point there. You really can’t play chess without thinking, unless you plan to lose. All the pieces are there for you to see and yet you can still be blindsided by an opponent’s move. And true enough, the game that originated in India has been played by kings and the royal court for centuries.

In spite of its perceived difficulty, chess is fun and that can’t be denied. Millions play the game today. United Nations data show over 600 million adults play chess regularly all over the world. Fun fact: There are more game combinations than there are atoms in the whole universe.

What’s more, statesmen and leaders of nations have made a habit out of it. The great Mahatma Gandhi, the lawyer who freed India from British rule, is one. Another is our very own founding father, Benjamin Franklin. And so did U.S. President John Quincy Adams (1767 – 1848). Adams loved the sport so much he collected chess sets and had one built out of ivory for the White House, to his political opponent’s chagrin.

But what’s even more amazing is chess can be enjoyed by everyone in the family no matter the age. The advantages of chess are myriad. First stop, you don’t need a lot of space to enjoy one. You can also use a room inside the house to get the sport going. Most importantly, you can use chess to teach life lessons to your child at home, and with great results.

How to Think Strategically

To a large degree, strategic thinking is a must to succeed in business. A good example here is McDonald’s. It may be the brothers Richard and Maurice McDonald who started making hamburgers and selling them like hotcakes. But it was the vision of Ray Kroc, a salesman who sold the McDonald brothers their shake mixers, that put McDonald’s on top as one of the biggest food franchises of the world. The brothers opened six restaurants at the start but thanks to Kroc over 266 franchises opened all over America.

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That’s just an example of how strategic thinking can propel one to succeed. Every day, we need strategic thinking to prioritize the things that are important over what is trivial. Chess can help a child develop such a skill.

Initially developed as a war game named chaturanga (Sanskrit for ‘four divisions’), chess is a survival of the fittest game. Each piece represented military units. Today, you still can’t mistake the war attributes each piece is assigned. Thus, a player must make the right decision or suffer the consequences of a bad one.

By playing, children can therefore develop better analytical and strategic thinking. The more they can see ahead, the better their outcome. In short, chess is a valuable educational tool your child can learn from and enjoy.

The Essence of Competition

Know that you won’t need many props to play the game. Unlike basketball where you would need a standing ring and ample room to dribble around, you can play just about anywhere with chess: outside or inside.

Of course, as it’s summer, playing in your room is also a great option. It’s best, however, that you find a quiet place that’s comfortable. In that sense, having the right temperature inside is central to all that. That said, if your AC is not functional, letting the air conditioning company’s team visit you is wise. They have the expertise to do regular maintenance, preventing untimely breakdowns in the process. Alternatively, they can provide you with a new unit, should things go beyond repair.

When you let your child play chess, he faces competition. The earlier he realizes the value of competition, the better. Competition is part and parcel of life. When he applies for a job, there are people lining up wanting to take the position. If he plans to do business, other entities will want to get a lion’s share of the market.

Children who have a keen understanding of why competition is essential will achieve greater success in life compared to children who don’t. Of course, all this has to be mixed with some amount of fun. If your child feels too much pressure is on him, he might not pursue the game altogether.

At its heart, chess is two armies battling out. There’s just one winner (unless it’s a draw). Ultimately, your child will have to learn on the fly. He might lose more at the onset but over time, he’ll gain proficiency, and with that confidence.

Accepting Losses

Not everything in life results in a win. Even Ray Kroc had his losses at the onset. And that’s one vital part of chess. It teaches children to live with reality. When you fail to assess the enemy’s strength and are blindsided by his tactics, you could end up in defeat.

Going through that motion allows your child to accept defeat, and learn from it. Over time, he will know that defeat is just temporary. It’s actually a lesson waiting to be learned. And your child will be wiser in the process.

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