Is Chess Black or White?

by Andy Pitcher

Recently a certain Board of Education voted to ban the game of Chess from all of its elementary, junior high and high schools claiming that "There is no place in our society for a monstrous game like Chess. Chess is dangerous. Chess is destructive. Chess teaches racial and sexual oppression. Chess has got to go!"

It is claimed that Chess has a negative influence on students because of the backwards and outdated thinking that was responsible for creating the game. They claim that chess encourages racism by having a 'war' between a white army and a black army and reinforces current racist tendencies by always having the white army move first. Chess is irrelevant to our society because it was created by dead white guys and that it glorifies war. The Board of Education in question also point out that chess destroys self-esteem. When children play the game, one always loses causing a child to feel dumb and inadequate.

So should chess really be viewed as a dangerous game and banned from schools, discouraged across our societies, and the perpetrators flogged for committing heinous acts of anti-social behaviour?

Well, of course there are always at least two sides to any argument and supporters of the game of chess may even suggest that chess should not only be allowed to be played at school but should also be part of the school curriculum.

There is evidence which suggests that playing chess can have a positive impact on learning. Chess is likely to enhance certain skills and characteristics in a person and claims are made that it helps to improve children's thinking and problem solving skills. The American Foundation for Chess Studies believes it can improve:

  • visual memory,
  • attention span,
  • spatial reasoning skills,
  • capacity to predict and anticipate consequences,
  • ability to use criteria to drive decision making and evaluate alternatives.

According to the 'Chess in the Olympics Campaign', 605 million people worldwide know how to play chess, 285 million people play via the internet and 7.5 million are registered players. These staggering figures make chess more popular than practically any other Olympic sport!

I think that Chess can be viewed as a healthy hobby for people of all ages and that its benefits go beyond the game itself. Chess players are often found to be good planners, people who accept responsibility for their actions, patient, respectful, and balanced decision makers.

Chess is a unique and an inspiring game which can unite religions and countries and help to remove social and economic barriers. Players don't need expensive uniforms or equipment and chess can be played competitively or non competitively between people of varying abilities and backgrounds. Anyone can learn and play the game which can be serious or fun, functional or imaginative. Chess is a game of truth which players must face alone, where weaknesses are sought out and eliminated.

As an old Indian Proverb says "Chess is a sea in which a gnat may drink and an elephant may bathe."

Not really that bad is it?

About the Author

Andy Pitcher is a chess player and manages his own website where he is committed to providing varied and diverse information about the game of chess. The website is jammed with loads of facts, tips , tricks, historical gems, and trivia - all you could possibly think of that defines chess yesterday, today and tomorrow. Whether you are a chess enthusiast or just a dabbler, you will be enriched, by this resource.