Posts Tagged ‘ chess ’

5 Reasons To Play Chess With Your Child

Saturday, September 15th, 2012

21 months.

I predict that the classic game of chess is about to get real relevant in American pop culture, especially for children.

The book Microtrends explains that as a norm is established in modern society, a complimentary archaic version of that trend begins to surface to counter it.

Some of us, who don’t have nor want Internet on our phones, want to further unplug our lives from all the collective over-stimulation.

Therefore, chess is officially becoming cool. And it’s perfect for kids, despite any preconceived ideas you might have about it being as difficult as a child having to memorize their multiplication tables.

I can’t play Angry Birds nor can I tweet about a boring day at any given moment because I’m part of the counterculture of Generation Y that doesn’t have Internet on my phone, but I can find organic entertainment by pulling out my chess set with someone who is cool enough to play it with me.

It used to be that chess was a game for nerds and Russians, thanks to that “lucky beret” episode of Saved By The Bell from 1991 entitled “Check Your Mate.”

Well, look at me: I’m not a nerd and I’m definitely not Russian. So let me tell you my 5 reasons to play chess with your child. Chess promotes the following:

1. Uninterrupted quality time: Turn off the TV. Put your phone on silent. Make a chess date with your child. The game of chess has been around for centuries, and once you begin to play it, you catch a sense of simpler, yet still challenging times. Playing chess with your child gives you legitimate and yet nonchalant excuse to make time for your child.

2. Good conversations and laughter. I promise, chess leads to interesting conversations as well as unsuspecting humor. The game causes a person to interact with another human being in an activity with endless possibilities of how the winner will win, unlike many “roll the dice because it’s really just about chance anyway” types of predictable board games.

3. Problem-solving skills. A Kindergartner can definitely learn how to play chess and have fun doing it. I think the key to making this happen is just a willing parent inviting a child to play.

The game of chess forces its players to multi-task, plan ahead, and making real-time executive decisions. Chess disciplines the mind, which I say is ideal for children, as they are constantly yearning for fun new ways to be challenged..

4. Cheap, easy entertainment. Depending on whether the chess pieces are made from plastic, glass, or wood, you’ll probably spend somewhere from 9 to 30 bucks on a decent set. That’s not bad at all considering the monthly prices of satellite TV, which in the process of entertaining a family, often mutes out real communication between its members.

5.  Healthy, addicting habit. The best kind of habit you can help create for your child is one that encourages a bond between the two of you. Whether you’re a mom or a dad and whether your child is a boy or a girl, I believe that if you play a nightly or weekly game of chess with them, your kid will feel pretty darn special.

My own son isn’t even 2 years-old yet, so I still have a couple of years before chess can become “our thing” together. But for those parents whose kid is a little bit older, I invite you to take the “chess challenge.”

Become your child’s chess partner and see what grows of it. And remember, chess isn’t for nerds anymore! It’s for cool parents and cool kids.

Top image: Boy looking at a piece of chess, via Shutterstock.

Bottom image: Father and son playing chess, via Shutterstock.

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Why Chess Is Good For Boys Who Like Violent Shooter Video Games

Saturday, September 15th, 2012

21 months.

Back in April, I chose to become involved in a “Big Brother” type of program called Men Of Valor; a program to mentor children whose fathers are incarcerated.

I was matched with a 15 year-old boy who was known for keeping to himself and playing “shoot-’em-up” video games online.

For those first couple of one-on-one meetings I had with him, I really didn’t know what to do.

But then he told me he was considering becoming a sniper in the military.

Coincidentally, I had just finished a book called MicroTrends, which had a chapter called “Aspiring Snipers,” explaining how the the popularity of shooter games like Halo and Call of Duty have spiked a trend in high school boys surveyed, saying that they are interested in becoming US military snipers when they graduate high school.

I racked my brain on how I could use his interest in shooter games and his inspiration to become a US military sniper as ways for us two to get to know each other better.

Then I thought back to a classic game in which I have been looking for a good partner for years: Chess!

In chess, you can use pieces like the queen, the bishop, and the rook to “snipe” the other player from the other side of the board.

Essentially, those pieces are best used after you have distracted your opponent with a threat on one side of the chess board, then in the likeness of a sniper, you slide in from the other side and take out one of the player’s pieces.

I began thinking, “Aspiring snipers should play chess.” I’m now convinced that chess is indeed the most archaic version of today’s online shooter games.

So every other Thursday, I pick him up to take him out for a Frappuccino at Starbucks and we play our 3 chess matches.

It took him about 7 or 8 chess matches to finally beat me for the first time. Like I told him, I wasn’t going to let him win nor would I go easy on him at all.

But as of our last meeting a few days ago, it was the first time in 3 matches that I finally beat him again.

That’s right. He’s a well-matched chess partner for me now.

As of our last meeting, he mentioned to me that he may be interested in going to college to be a History Major, or maybe even an English Major like I was.

But whether he ends up fighting for our country in the military, or becoming a historian or a teacher, I’m here to support him; and I say, it all began with a classic game of chess.

I now invite you to read my instant sequel to this article, 5 Reasons To Play Chess With Your Child.


Top image: Two knights face to face on chessboard, via Shutterstock.

Bottom image: Chess coffee, via Shutterstock.

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