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Sonoma Family Life Magazine

Why Chess Is Great for Little Brains

By Jon Sieber

Chess is one of the oldest and most popular games in history, with early forms of the game dating back to the 6th century CE. The game certainly saw a revival when the pandemic began, as people around the globe dusted off their chessboards and even binge-watched the Queen’s Gambit, one of the most-watched series ever inspired by the masterful game.

Chess is not just for adults. It has many benefits for kids, including fostering critical developmental skills and teaching important life-long lessons. If you’ve been thinking about getting in on the craze and introducing chess to your children (or even learning how to play together), here are five reasons why you should totally do it:

Chess exercises both sides of the brain. In a game of chess, the left analytical side of the brain looks for the next logical move, while the right creative side seeks out patterns and new possibilities. The game boosts both intelligence and creativity.

Chess gives kids an edge in the classroom. Playing chess is known to increase IQ, promote critical thinking, and teach core math and verbal skills. It also helps kids retain information, improve test scores, solve problems, remain calm under pressure, and perform well in school.

Chess helps kids speak the same language. The chessboard is 64 squares of safe space that brings together kids of all backgrounds, interests, and languages. It’s a common ground and even playing field. Through chess, kids also learn to explore the thoughts of the person sitting across from them, which helps develop important social skills and emotional intelligence.

Chess teaches sportsmanship. Win or lose, kids will learn it’s fun to play the game of chess with a friend. In the game, they’ll grow to understand the consequences of a bad move and how to embrace failure. But, at the end of every game, they always give a “good game” handshake. This teaches kids how to lose with dignity and win with humility.

Chess is the ultimate executive coach. Grit is a powerful driving force and predictor of success in the business world, and an important trait kids can learn when they play chess. The game teaches kids patience as they work through different scenarios, learn to plan, course correct, and wait to see how things play out.

Plus, learning chess is more accessible and approachable than ever before. There are after-school programs, private tutors, online classes, and now an innovative board game, Story Time chess, which uses a silly, story-based curriculum to introduce chess to kids as young as three years old. 

Jon Sieber is a dad and cofounder of Story Time Chess. For more than a decade, Sieber has successfully taught hundreds of kids as young as three years old how to play chess using an innovative teaching method and story-based curriculum. Story Time Chess: The Game is available at and on Amazon.