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The Role of Chess in the Intellectual Development of Childrens from Primary School

Article

The Role of Chess in the Intellectual Development of Childrens from Primary School

Abstract

Chess playing has a significant role in participants’ resources allocation, both at a psychological level, but mostly concerning the cognitive resources. The aim of the present study was to examine the effect of chess playing on the intellectual development of primary-class students. 67 children were tested using the Raven Standard Progressive Matrices and were distributed in three different groups according to their experience with chess, namely: the control group (formed by students with no experience with chess playing), the beginners group (students with less than one year in chess playing training) and the advanced group (children with more than two years experience with chess). Results indicated that chess playing had a significant effect on the SPM performance, indicating that those in the advanced group performed significantly better than those in the control or in the beginners group. Conclusions of this study tap into the benefits of playing chess with a focus on the children’s’ cognitive development.
SPORT AND SOCIETY
Interdisciplinary Journal of Physical Education and Sports
Volume 19, Issue 2 (2019)
58
The Role of Chess in the Intellectual Development of Childrens from
Primary School
Stegariu Vlada, Popușoi Simona Andreeaa, Abălașei Beatricea, Voinea Nicolae Lucianc, Stelescu
Ioan d, Trofin Florin Petruțe, Honceriu Cezara
a“Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University of Iaşi, Faculty of Physical Education and Sports
b“Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University of Iaşi, Faculty of Psychology and Education Sciences
c“Vasile Alecsandri” University of din Bacău
dUniversity of Petroşani, str. Universităţii no. 20, 332006, România
eInterdisciplinary Center Research in the Human Science Motricity
Abstract
Chess playing has a significant role in participants’ resources allocation, both at a psychological level, but mostly
concerning the cognitive resources. The aim of the present study was to examine the effect of chess playing on the intellectual
development of primary-class students. 67 children were tested using the Raven Standard Progressive Matrices and were
distributed in three different groups according to their experience with chess, namely: the control group (formed by students with
no experience with chess playing), the beginners group (students with less than one year in chess playing training) and the
advanced group (children with more than two years experience with chess). Results indicated that chess playing had a significant
effect on the SPM performance, indicating that those in the advanced group performed significantly better than those in the
control or in the beginners group. Conclusions of this study tap into the benefits of playing chess with a focus on the children’s’
cognitive development.
Cuvinte cheie:chess, cognitive development.
1. Introduction
Chess has recently become a popular subject of study for several researches. The valences of the chess game
are plentiful, and practitioners are ideal subjects for discovering new sides of human thinking(Trinchero, 2013).
In chess, the player must understand their position, discover the appropriate game plan and evaluate correctly
what is happening on the board, but all this in a relatively short time (Gobet& Campitelli, 2002). Time management
is or the difficult task with faced by every player, be it amateur or grand master. Neglecting this aspect can turn a
flawlessly played game into a defeat. Acquiring the quality of time management is learned by the chess player from
an early age, so he will be able to apply this quality in daily life. The set of cognitive skills (induction, analytical
thinking, understanding the problem, visualization of the overall image) required in chess are transferable to similar
domains that require a similar thinking algorithm, for example, mathematics (Boruch, 2011).
During a chess game, especially in the first part, the opening phase, the players have to remember countless
lines of theory in the variation that it is played. Grand masters, when compared to amateur chess players, exhibit
significantly more brain activity in the frontal and parietal cortices, indicating that they use their long-term memory
(Duan X., 2014). Somehow logically because, the same as in any other sport, to improve the specific qualities a large
number of training hours is required, and the quality level of the games played by the grand masters is exceptional.
Studies have shown that the frontal and posterior parietal areas, which are known to be involved in the top-down
orientation of attention, perception and working memory, are engaged in chess (Duan X., 2014). In order to access
the information stored in the long-term memory, the player needs a specific environment, characterized by silence
https://doi.org/10.36836/UAIC/FEFS/10.60
SPORT AND SOCIETY
Interdisciplinary Journal of Physical Education and Sports
Volume 19, Issue 2 (2019)
59
and the presence of the least disturbing sensory factors. Surprisingly, several grand masters recognized that the mere
presence of the pieces on the chessboard, in the first phase of the game, is a disturbing element in the process of
recalling the opening lines.
Chess practice improves ability to concentrate, working memory and other types of executive functions, as
well as directly influencing problem solving ability and intelligence (Gumede, 2015). Highlighting this link, the
quality of the chess game and the academic results in mathematics was also presented in the following study. Here
the experimental group scored on tests of metacognitive and mathematical abilities significantly higher than those in
the control group. A striking conclusion of the study is that chess practice significantly improves students'
mathematical and metacognitive abilities (Bart W.M. et all., 2014). Other studies have shown similar results
(Sala&Gobet, 2016).
The improvement of these cognitive processes had a measurable purpose, the academic results in
mathematics. The influence of chess on this subject has been analyzed from several perspectives, but probably the
most surprising result was the one presented by Barrett (Barrett D.C. et all.,2011). Essentially, the experimental
group benefited from less study of the general mathematics syllabus (30 days of teaching) compared to the control
group and yet was not surpassed in any of the eight mathematical tests (Barrett D.C. et all.,2011). Even though the
number of hours devoted to the specific study was smaller than those of the control group, their results were not
worse. The ability to use critical thinking (for example, criteria for determining decisions and evaluating alternatives
to testing) improved scores by 17.3% for students regularly engaged in chess courses, compared to only 4.56% for
participating children to other forms of supplementary activities (Buhren C., 2010).
2. Method
Participants
The initial lot of participants included 78 primary schools students. Eleven participants were excluded from
the analysis due to higher discrepancy scores on at least one of the five series of the SPM instrument. Finally, 67
students’ results were analysed in this study (67% boys). Their age ranged from 7 to 10 years (M = 8.29; SD = 0.76).
The participants were distributed in three different groups according to their experience with playing chess, namely:
15 children were in the advanced group, 21 in the beginners group, and 31 children formed the control group (e.g.,
they were not trained in playing chess).
Measures
The Romanian standardized form of Raven’s Standard Progressive Matrices (SPM) was used to measure
participants’ intellectual abilities. The instrument consists of 60 different matrices distributed in five sets of twelve.
Each matrices presents a series of designs with a part missing and those taking the test are expected to select the
correct part to complete the designs from a number of options printed beneath. Each participant obtained a total
score on each of the five series and an overall score. Afterwards, the discrepancy score for each series and percentile
ranks were computed. Lastly, based on the validated Romanian norms, each child that obtained less than two points
discrepancy was described as presenting one of the five levels of intelligence, namely: Grade I Intellectually
superior, Grade II Above average in intellectual capacity, Grade III Intellectually average, Grade IV Below
average in intellectual capacity, Grade V Intellectual deficiency.
SPORT AND SOCIETY
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Volume 19, Issue 2 (2019)
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Procedure
In the first phase of the study, we obtained the written consent of each child’s legal tutor for participating in
the study. Afterwards, the participants were tested in groups of three children in a separate room from the
classrooms. The investigators presented the test and gave the instruction on how they should complete it. After
giving the instructions, each participant completed the test in their own time. The elapsing time for completing the
test ranged from 11 to 75 minutes (M = 30; SD = 13.62).
3. Results and discutions
Preliminary analysis
The total score was tested for normality, both for the overall sample, and separately for each group. The
Shapiro-Wilk test showed that the total score was normally distributed, both in the overall group and separately.
Table 1 presents the descriptive statistics for the total score at SPM.
Table 1 - Summary statistics and normality test results of the total score at SPM in the overall group and
separately in each study group
Overall
Advanced
Beginners
Control
p
p
M
(SD)
p
M
(SD)
p
Totalscore
.28
.22
26.38
(6.73)
.55
24.35
(6.96)
.72
Testing for differences between the three groups on the total performance at the SPM
In order to test the differences between the three groups on the total performance, One-way Anova test of
variance was applied. Results indicated that there were significant differences between the three groups (F(2, 64) =
9.56; p < .001). Those in the advanced group performed significantly better than the two groups, namely than those
in the beginners group (p < .001) and than those in the control group (p = .008) (see Figure 1). No significant
differences were found between the beginners and those in the control group (p = .81).
Figure 1 - Mean differences at the total score of SPM according to the distribution group
SPORT AND SOCIETY
Interdisciplinary Journal of Physical Education and Sports
Volume 19, Issue 2 (2019)
61
Testing for differences on the level of intelligence
In order to test for the difference on the level of intelligence between the three groups, nonparametric tests
were applied, namely the Kruskal-Wallis test. Results indicated that participants ranked significantly different at the
levels of intelligence according to their distribution group (H = 6.71; p = .04). Further multiple comparison tests,
namely the Mann-Whitney tests, were undergone by lowering the significance level to .016. Thus, the advanced
students ranked significantly higher (i.e., obtaining superior levels of intelligence) than those in the control group (U
= 136.5; p = .016). Furthermore, those in the advanced group ranked higher than the beginners but the difference
between them were marginally significant (U = 92; p = .02) indicating that. Finally, the differences between those in
the control group and the beginners failed to yield the significance level (U = 313.5; p = .81). See Table 2 for the
crosstab percentages for the 3 (group type) x 5 (intelligence level) distribution.
Group
Total
Control
Beginners
Advanced
Intelligence
levels
Intellectually
superior
Count
11
7
10
28
% within Level
39.3%
25.0%
35.7%
100.0%
% within Group
35.5%
33.3%
66.7%
41.8%
% of Total
16.4%
10.4%
14.9%
41.8%
Above average
in intellectual
capacity
Count
7
6
4
17
% within Level
41.2%
35.3%
23.5%
100.0%
% within Group
22.6%
28.6%
26.7%
25.4%
% of Total
10.4%
9.0%
6.0%
25.4%
Intellectually
average
Count
11
8
1
20
% within Level
55.0%
40.0%
5.0%
100.0%
% within Group
35.5%
38.1%
6.7%
29.9%
% of Total
16.4%
11.9%
1.5%
29.9%
Below average
in intellectual
capacity
Count
2
0
0
2
% within Level
100.0%
0.0%
0.0%
100.0%
% within Group
6.5%
0.0%
0.0%
3.0%
% of Total
3.0%
0.0%
0.0%
3.0%
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4. Conclusions
Our results indicated that those who were trained in the game of chess performed better at the SPM
instrument than the beginners or than those who haven’t been trained. Thus, training in the game of chess may play a
significant role in enhancing general intelligence.
Nevertheless, our result should we interpreted with caution given the uneven distribution of students. Our
results indicated that the advanced group performed better on the SPM test than the beginners group but the both
group did not significantly differed on the intelligence level. Thus, we could enhance the hypothesis that a selection
bias might exist in selecting future students for training in the game of chess. Future studies with more balanced
groups should address this issue. Lastly, future studies need to address this issue using longitudinal studies on the
possible enhancement of the intelligence development as a matter of chess training, while controlling for the age
factor.
5. Thanks
The authors express their gratitude to Romanian Federation of Chess and AJChessIași for the logistic support
provided throughout the current research.
6. References
Barrett D.C. et all.(2011). Our Move: Using chess to improve math achievement for students who receive special
education services.International Journal of Special Education, Vol. 26, No. 3.
Bart W.M. et all.(2014). On the effect of chess training on scholastic achievement.www.frontiersin.org
Frontiers in Psychology, Volume 5, Article 762.
Boruch R. (2011). Does playing chess improve math learning? Promising (and inexpensive) results from Italy,
Unpublished manuscript.
Buhren C. (2010). Chess players’ performance beyond 64 squares: A case study on the limitations of cognitive
abilities transfer, Joint discussion paper series in economics, No. 19-2010, Univ., Dep. Of Business
Administration & Economics, Marburg.
Duan X. (2014). Functional organization of intrinsic connectivity networks in Chinese-chess experts, Brain Res,
1558, p. 33-43.
Gobet F.& Campitelli G. (2002). Intelligence and chess, in J. Retschitzki & R. HaddadZubel (eds.), Step by step,
Fribourg, Edition Universitaires Fribourg Suisse, http:// www.estudiodepsicologia.com.ar/articles/7.pdf
Gumede K. (2015). Your move: The effect of chess on Mathematics Test Score, IZA Discussion Paper No.
9370.
Sala, G.& Gobet, F. (2016). Do the benefits of chess instruction transfer to academic and cognitive skills? A meta-
analysis. Educational Reasearch Review, Vol. 18, p. 46-57.
Trinchero, R. (2013). Can chess training improve Pisa scores in mathematics? An experiment in Italian primary
schools.
... Training in the game of chess may play a significant role in enhancing general intelligence (Stegariu et al., 2019). ...
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