The Power of Chess on the Mind
Posted 09/29/2017 11:31AM

If you were to cover a chessboard with rice grains placing one grain on the first square, two on the second, four on the third, and so on, doubling the number of grains on each subsequent square, how many rice grains will there be on the chessboard upon completion? This mathematical problem appears in several stories about the birth of chess, and while there is general agreement chess saw the light in Asia, consensus lacks about exactly when or where this happened.

From discussing its likely origins in India and the birth of the modern chess game in Spain, to highlighting the Cold War symbolism behind the legendary chess match between Boris Spassky and Bobby Fischer in 1972, chess expert Leontxo García  swept his audience through the 1500 year history of the chess game in Keystone’s PAC on 25 September. 

An accomplished international chess player, Leontxo García has met the chess world champions and chess masters of the second half of the 20th century into this century. In 1983, he started a career in journalism and successfully combined his passion for chess with his interest in reporting and, over the years, education by focusing on chess as a way to think and its space in the educational curriculum.

Driven by research and based on personal experience, García, who advocates for the integration of chess in schools, emphasized the many benefits of the game and the positive outcomes of successful integration. For starters, chess helps the brain to develop and exercise. Playing the game regularly boosts the learning, analytical thinking, concentration, and decision-making abilities in children. A regular game of chess also helps train the memory and can help improve overall academic performance.

Mr. García is the Director of Speakers for the Kasparov Foundation Latin America, which has trained more than 13,000 teachers on the power of chess in education in Mexico, Panama and Spain since 2014. He writes a daily chess column, keeps a chess blog, and produces videos on chess. With chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov, he produced the series La Pasión del Ajedrez (The Passion for Chess). He was awarded the Medal of Merit by the Spanish Government, and received a mention in the FIDE’s Golden Book.

Keystone’s Education Salons provide a space to engage with the best minds in education, literature, and the arts who share their views on traditional and modern aspects of education. Discussions between our prominent guests and the community spark creativity and lively conversation around each topic. Keystone uses these salons to highlight contemporary themes in education and other disciplines, and as opportunities to discuss, rethink, and revision current practices in education. Our next Salon with Zhang Yiqing, on the history and culture behind Chinese characters, will take place at Keystone on 19 October 6:30-8pm: Decoding the Beauty of Chinese Characters.

The Keystone Magazine

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