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Let's Build A Next Generation Of Problem Solvers E-mail
Written by Laura Sherman   
Friday, 09 March 2012 18:59

chess problem solversIt’s safe to say that every parent wants their children to have the best advantages in life. We want our children to be able to stand on their own two feet, solving problems that come their way on the fly.The chess board is an excellent training ground for developing this skill.

The last thing we want is for our next generation to sit around and wait for someone else to take responsibility for a situation and solve the problems that crop up. These people would lack courage and integrity, having little confidence in their ability to create solutions.

When you play chess, you’re on your own. It’s just you and your opponent. There’s no one there feeding you answers, guiding you along to the next move. That would be cheating. No, you either figure out how to defend an attack or you lose. It’s pretty simple.

I remember when one of my students asked me, “Will this position come up in another game?” I looked into his eyes and knew he wondered if the lessons he learned in one game could be used in another. It was a valid concern and showed his strong intelligence.

I explained to him that although the exact position probably wouldn’t come up again, other ones with similar themes would appear again and again. Learning how to tackle problems in one game will most certainly help you in future ones. I showed this boy common themes that he’d probably seen before and would see again.

It is always a good idea for chess students to go over their games with someone who is more experienced, someone who can help them spot weaknesses and strengths in their play.

Once one knows what works and doesn’t work, one can begin to build from that and solve more difficult problems on the chess board. It gets to a point where one can look at a position and spot the best moves quickly, throwing out the ideas that won’t work. This ability to analyze is priceless.

That student’s eyes lit up! He immediately recognized the patterns we were discussing and became excited. At that moment he said, “You know if I practice some of these techniques at home, I bet I could win more!”

I have to tell you that this was one of the most exciting moments for me as a chess coach. He was embracing the idea of doing chess homework and could see the benefits it would bring. This basic lesson could carry over into his life and benefit him greatly.

Ever since I was a child problem solving was fun for me. It was a game that sparked a challenge deep within me, one I relished. I wish to share that joy with the next generation and hope they can use these skills to solve some of the problems they will face in the future.


Laura Sherman wrote Chess Is Child’s Play with Bill Kilpatrick. Chess Is Child’s Play teaches any parent, of any skill level, to teach any child, of any age, to play chess. This book will be released April, 2012.

"There Are 3 Main Problems That 95% of All Chess Players Are Facing... "

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Last Updated on Friday, 09 March 2012 19:06


+1 #13 Yury 2012-03-12 19:37
Chess is a great game to play for both: kids and adults. Chess improves many characteristics required to be successful at school and work: memory, concentration, critical thinking, logic, pattern recognition, imagination, creativity, and so on. I have written an article on Benefits of Chess: thechessworld.com/.../...
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+2 #12 Laura Sherman 2012-03-12 16:41
That's great, Ella! Yes, they do last, don't they? Thanks for writing in!
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+1 #11 Ella Quinn 2012-03-12 16:34
It's been years since I played chess, but the lessons remain.
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+1 #10 Laura Sherman 2012-03-12 11:56
Thank you, Stacey! I can't wait to hear back from you on how you like Chess Is Child's Play. When you do the exercises try having your son take the "teacher" position with you. You can show him what to do and have him run through it with you. He'll learn a lot by teaching you!
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+2 #9 Stacey 2012-03-12 11:51
Great parallels between problem solving in chess and putting those concepts to work in real life situations as well. My husband as taught my 6 year old how to play and I still haven't learned myself. Looking forward to your book release as a great gift for my son (and me) to share!
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+1 #8 Laura Sherman 2012-03-10 12:55
Thank you for giving me another idea for a chess article. I think that would be a good one! I am always looking for more angles to promote about how chess helps children. :-)
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0 #7 Laura Sherman 2012-03-10 12:53
Lewin, you should write articles about this. You are spot on with your analysis.

"Problem solving involves creativity..." is a great concept. It's very true. Chess has a very artistic aspect to it, one that encourages imagination in children. I like to write about that too.

Thank you for writing!
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+1 #6 Laura Sherman 2012-03-10 12:50
Wow, Julie! Thank you for fully understanding my intent and desire to share this educational tool with others. So many are intimidated by chess, thinking it really only belongs to the highly intellectual people.

Chess is for everyone!

I believe that if every child was taught chess we'd have a stronger next generation.

I appreciate your kind support and encouragement regarding Chess Is Child's Play. It is written for parents, but any educator or caregiver could pick it up and use it. :-)
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+2 #5 chris 2012-03-10 10:33
Very interesting point. I like the way you highlighted the student's question and what it meant.
I'll be interested to read about how problem solving skills learned from playing chess transpose in reel life. I guess it could make an entire new article. thanks for sharing.
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+3 #4 Lewin Edwards 2012-03-10 10:00
Chessis famously used as a background skill in military leadership programs, because it is believed to translate to strategic skills.

It has been demonstrated experimentally that champion chess players do not memorize each piece on a board. They are "situationally aware" of the state of the game; they appear to keep track of strategic blocks rather than individual pieces.

Older chess algorithms operate from a corpus of recorded games. For each move, the computer finds the closest match between the board state and a recorded game. The computer then makes the next move towards a win.

Most education teaches only the brute force algorithmic approach. Problem solving involves creativity, and often part of creativity means staying above the details long enough to fully understand the problem before committing to a particular class of solution. Keeping your view zoomed out lets you see the dead ends at the ends of otherwise promising paths.
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