According to research, chess assists in improving problem solving skills, memory and logic, develops concentration and improves imagination, creativity and patience. Dr Peter Dauvergne from the University of Sydney believes that the sport is one of the most powerful educational tools available to strengthen a child’s mind.
In his article The Case for Chess as a Tool to Develop Our Children’s Minds, Dr Dauvergne said that chess is a fun way to practice how to put the mind into high gear, where intense concentration increases alertness, efficiency of thought processes, and ultimately mental performance.
“Studying chess systematically has also been shown to raise students’ IQ scores, academic exam scores and strengthen mathematical, language, and reading skills,” Dr Dauvergne wrote.
Perhaps that’s why ex-student, Damian Lin (2018), worked to bring chess back to Waverley College during his final year.
“Last year we discovered that there were a few students interested in playing chess and we formed a team of four players and one reserve,” Damian said.
“Chess hadn’t really been played at the College since 2014 when Mr Reidy got ill. So we started getting together at lunch times as a recreational thing and then eventually got Mr O’Donnell to sign on to getting a professional chess coach for us.”
In 2019, Damian returned to the College as the Chess Coach himself with the goal of assembling both a junior and an intermediate team who will compete in the Metropolitan Chess Competition.
“Competing in chess is fun and it also helps you mentally,” Damian said. “It trains you quite heavily to think about the consequences of your actions before you make them. For example, when you are trying to get a check-mate on someone you want to think, is there anything I can do so that they can only have one move that they can make and then the next move will be able to guarantee that I win?”
Chess has a long history at Waverley with teams playing competitively as part of the Metropolitan Chess Competition back in the 70s.
In 1984 the College came very close to a win, when they defeated both Covenant Christian School and North Sydney High in the semi-finals.
Unfortunately when they faced Cranbrook, the team was defeated with a score of 2-1, in Cranbrook’s favour.
According to their records the NSW Junior Chess League states that Waverley College won the Metropolitan Secondary Schools Competition in the Senior Division in 1988.
Moving forward, Head of Co-Curricular, Stephen O’Donnell, said the College is very keen to get as many boys involved in playing chess as possible.
“We have reintroduced chess this winter as part of our co-curricular program,” he said.
“Previously the sport had to be played on top of a student’s usual winter sport elective but now it can be the elective.
“Chess is a great option for the boys to choose because it helps to develop critical thinking skills.”
So, say yes to chess!