12 July 2016

Chess Doesn't Make You Smart.

Ohhh yes.  You'd think it would be so, so obvious that children who like chess and do well in it are generally the smart ones who do well in school.  But parents who want their children to do well in school see these chess players and go, hmm!  Let's sign Junior up!

And the chess coach is happy to take your money while talking up statistics about children who play X number of hours tend to have higher grades and bla bla bla.   The chess coach is also happy to teach some private lessons to these new to competitive chess parents before they figure out that they could hire an international master for cheaper online.

I've seen it happen very frequently. 

It's a great game and I'd encourage kids to play just to play.  But every kid does not need to have private lessons from a grandmaster and travel around the nation or world to play in expensive tournaments and so on.  An article in The Telegraph backs me up on this, but hello?  This is not "surprising" news.  Go ask any parent who has taken kids to rated tournaments for more than six months.  This is not some secret knowledge being imparted here.

Hey, I know some families who are just made of money and enjoy going to tournaments.  We like going to the ones we can afford to attend.  But I've seen some monster parents who make huge sacrifices and pressure their children to be something they're just never going to be. 

Just a small example:  I've seen a mom smack a biscuit out of her child's hand at breakfast-time before a tournament and yell, "Protein only!"  And generally treat him badly when he didn't perform as expected.  He was a fourth grader rated about 700.  Not horrible, but this ain't Bobby Fischer here.  It's not worth the drama.

Then again, for those super-elite children whose parents are spending tens of thousands of dollars on their training and travel? Oh yeah, they'd better do well.  At least in these cases, they are trading all that extreme hard work for something, you know?



  1. I agree with everything you've said. It's like all those junior beauty pageants and parents who push their kids to excel at sports when clearly the kids would rather do anything else. I'm not a "smart" kid, I know that for sure and playing chess won't change that, but I'm clever in other ways, so I'm okay with it. (But sometimes I still wish I was smarter)

    1. And who's to say chess wouldn't improve some of your skills a bit? It just doesn't turn anyone into super-geniuses or make them smarter, yk?

      I do think you are quite bright enough and your posts reflect some deep thoughts at times, most particularly your writing posts with the integrated words. :)


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