Vishwanathan Anand (popularly known as Vishy) believes chess helps improve self-confidence, and problem solving techniques, and memory of students. “It’s a two way process. To play chess, you must have some self-confidence and vice versa,” says Anand.
He was speaking at a panel discussion on ‘impact of chess on life skills and academics’, recently organised at the India Habitat Centre in the Capital.
A research was carried out on the students of 13,000 government schools, who played chess for a long time, and their academic performance, the researchers found, had improved especially in subjects such as science and mathematics. “In the research, students who played more than 100 matches were observed very closely and their behavioural patterns and academic performance was analysed by experts. A marked improvement in their performance was found,” says Rajendra S Pawar, chairman, NIIT Ltd.
Based on the research, it was suggested by D Hundoo, cognitive learning specialist, IGNOU, that chess be made an optional course in mathematics. “It is seen when it was introduced as the part of curriculum of mathematics in Belgium, there was substantial improvement in the performance of kids,” he says.
But Pawar didn’t endorse making it compulsory. “We want chess to be taken more seriously but it shouldn’t be mandatory in the course curriculum as research hasn’t established the fact that it definitely improves performance. It has some influence but we would need even more evidence,” adds Pawar.
It is also suggested that chess should be relished as a game and not like an academic subject. “Before we teach chess to kids in classrooms we must ensure that kids play it,” says D Marmar Mukhopadhyay, adviser, government of India.
Not only chess, students should be encouraged to play all sorts of games. As that would in turn help them build their character.
“Dhyan Chand had written in his autobiography, Goal, that the game requires you to be in the advantageous position and you must pass on the ball to anyone in your team who is standing at the best advantageous position.
“That way hockey teaches you team spirit,” said Major general (retired) Manmohan Singh, who was also present at the panel discussion.