ArticlePDF Available

Influence of Chess Training on Mathematics Performance in Thaba Nchu

Authors:

Abstract

The study aimed to establish chess influence on learner's performance in mathematics. It adopted a quantitative approach and followed a descriptive research design. 70 Grade 9 learners from seven secondary schools participated in the study. Cluster sampling technique was employed with 70 learners being surveyed using a questionnaire. A close-ended questionnaire was used to gather data. The study found that the largest group of learners in school that did not offer chess could not understand or explain En Passant. It also emerged that in schools that offered chess, all learners agreed that they could explain En Passant. Slightly less than 50% of the participants strongly disagreed that they can algebraically notate the game whereas 17.1% disagreed. In non-chess schools, only 4% (N=2) indicated that they can algebraically notate whereas all 20 learners (100%) in chess schools confirmed that they can notate the game. The study concludes that the learners in those schools that offered chess had ideas/could explain the chess terms and vice versa. The study recommends that since the influence of chess training may have positive impact, chess training can be introduced to schools to enhance the mathematics performance of learners.
ISSN: 04532198
Volume 63, Issue 08, August, 2021
7751
Influence of Chess Training on Mathematics
Performance in Thaba Nchu
Simon A. Tachie1*, Johnson M. Ramathe2
School of Mathematics, Science and Technology Education Faculty of Education North-West University
(RSA)1
School of Mathematics, Natural Science and Technology Education University of Free State (RSA)2
Corresponding author: 1*
ABSTRACT The study aimed to establish chess influence on learner’s performance in mathematics. It
adopted a quantitative approach and followed a descriptive research design. 70 Grade 9 learners from seven
secondary schools participated in the study. Cluster sampling technique was employed with 70 learners being
surveyed using a questionnaire. A close-ended questionnaire was used to gather data. The study found that
the largest group of learners in school that did not offer chess could not understand or explain En Passant. It
also emerged that in schools that offered chess, all learners agreed that they could explain En Passant. Slightly
less than 50% of the participants strongly disagreed that they can algebraically notate the game whereas 17.1%
disagreed. In non-chess schools, only 4% (N=2) indicated that they can algebraically notate whereas all 20
learners (100%) in chess schools confirmed that they can notate the game. The study concludes that the
learners in those schools that offered chess had ideas/could explain the chess terms and vice versa. The study
recommends that since the influence of chess training may have positive impact, chess training can be
introduced to schools to enhance the mathematics performance of learners.
KEYWORDS: chess training; mathematics performance; learners and mathematics learning
1. INTRODUCTION
Related studies have been conducted that focused on the use of chess training in teaching and learning contexts
in different parts of the world, claiming that it stimulates children's minds and helps them to build specific
skills while enjoying themselves [30]. Chess is a very old strategic and tactical game that brings fun and
enjoyment to the lives of people. It dates back 1 500 years, and is believed to have originated in India for the
acquisition of knowledge [32]. It seems that very intelligent men were asked by the rulers of India to devise a
way to educate their children to become wiser and the game of chess was offered as the solution. Since the
invention of chess, it has spread to all corners of the world [30]. [5] examined the level of chess application
in the 21st century in Italy and his findings revealed that chess is believed to promote cognitive ability, focus,
memory and effectiveness in children’s learning. In other words, it supports learning. The current researcher
aims to establish whether what was found in Italy based on chess application is applicable in the South African
context. [30], [7] also indicated that chess could support memory improvement with regard to enhancement
of cognitive ability, focus and memory in children’s learning. [30], p.1) further argue that:
“Feedback from learners, educators and parents indicates that chess has educational benefits such as
mathematics problem- solving skills, reading, understanding, high self-confidence, patience, logic, critical
thinking, observation, pattern recognition, analysis, creativity, concentration, persistence, self-control,
sportsmanship, responsibility, respect for others, self-esteem, coping with frustration, and many other
influences which are difficult to measure but can make a difference in learners’ attitude, motivation, and
achievement.”
S. A. Tachie and J. M. Ramathe, 2021 Technology Reports of Kansai University
7752
This means that chess training in the life of learners is pivotal to support their intellectual abilities in learning.
In this regard, it is argued that teachers should embark on chess training with their learners in order to support
their understanding of some concepts in mathematic learning. Studies conducted by the [7] could not devise
any strategies involving the use of chess training that could assist learners in the learning of mathematics,
hence this study seeks to establish the influence of chess training on learners in terms of mathematics
performance. Chess is considered an art and has the ability to be educational, developing and moulding the
individual as well as providing much pleasure. The positive value of chess is its ability to develop skills such
as critical thinking, problem solving as well as independent thinking [3]. This was confirmed by [1] who
argued that chess training gives children the opportunity to develop analytical thinking techniques, problem-
solving capabilities, confidence, organisational habits, logical thinking and reasoning abilities, patience and
persistence and decision-making skills. A study by [8] confirms that chess prodigies usually develop the
ability conceptualise and memorise information far better than their counterparts. Chess training positively
influences children ability to communicate and think on various levels [11]. Further studies by [27]
demonstrate that chess training also supports learners in performing better in English and mathematics.
According to [30] Chess training helps to develop learners and enhances their mental capacity building, which,
in turn, helps improve their performance in the classroom also chess also children learn a great deal from
chess, they learn sportsmanship, to accept a win graciously and to be resilient whenever they face adversity.
However, studies conducted by [1], [7], [11] on the impact of chess implementation failed to address how
teachers and learners’ use of chess in classroom mathematics helps to overcome the problem of the poor
performance of mathematics by learners in the country in the past years. As there has not been any chess
training amongst learners in the Thaba Nchu education district to check its suitability to support learners in
the learning of mathematics, this study intended to establish the how the use of chess in daily learning by
learners in the mathematics classroom could help develop proper understanding of mathematics concepts,
which would help to reduce the poor performance of learners in mathematics in schools.
2. Problem Statement
I am a chess instructor, a professional chess player, regional arbiter and a mathematics educator. I have always
been curious about finding out if chess training has an influence on mathematics performance and if there is
a correlation between chess and mathematics scores. According to [9], chess has a positive effect in that is
enhance learners’ mathematical performance through the development of critical thinking skills. Chess helps
learners conceptualise a problem and work through solving it, which is a scenario found in mathematics [33].
Chess requires players to be focused and maintain constant attention while problem solving. This means that
if learners undergo training and play the game of chess, their cognitive strength, focus and attention will have
a positive effect on their mathematical performance [2]. However, there seems to be a paucity of evidence of
the effectiveness of chess instruction on mathematical performance. This is confirmed by [19] who argued
that there was no strong evidence for the cognitive and academic benefits of chess. [19] found only a few
studies, which included unpublished reports or master and doctoral theses. Most importantly, many of these
studies had a quasi-experimental design (no random assignment to the experimental and control groups) and,
in some cases, the experimental samples were self-selected.
3. The Research Questions
How does learner training in chess influence mathematics performance?
4. Theoretical Framework
This study focuses on the influence of chess training on mathematics performance and identified the need for
exploring chess training as a positive influence on mathematics performance. The study presents Dewey’s
ISSN: 04532198
Volume 63, Issue 08, August, 2021
7753
Theory of Inquiry as the theoretical framework underpinning this study.
“Even though John Dewey is not primarily remembered for his research in logical theory (which he also called
his theory of inquiry), his work in this field is still significant and relevant enough to concrete practices to be
regarded as highly important doctrines” [12], p.1). Dewey’s systematic approach to inquiry, which includes
pragmatic problem solving, involves five steps which [4], [37], [48], summarised as follows:
1. Recognising a situation as problematic,
2. Considering the difference that it makes to define the problem one way rather than another,
3. Developing a possible line of action as a response to the problem,
4. Evaluating potential actions in terms of their likely consequences, and
5. Taking actions that are felt to be likely to address the problematic situation.
I was of the view that this was a relevant theory to underpin the study considering the situation at hand. The
problem was first identified as that of poor mathematic performance. As a result, various approaches were
sought but one was taken into cognisance - that of exploring whether or not chess training, as a pragmatic
problem-solving approach, has an influence on mathematics performance. [35] reports that in the 19th century
in the United States of America pragmatism, a distinct American philosophical doctrine, was conceptualised
by Charles Sanders Peirce, William James and other co-founders who came together and birthed the doctrine
in Cambridge, Massachusetts centuries ago. Various academics including the philosopher, John Dewey and
non-academics joined together to advance the doctrine [35], [37], [40], [41]. The philosopher amalgamated to
fight against traditional beliefs about nature of reality, knowledge and inquiry giving power to pragmatism.
The pragmatist school of thought dismissed strongly the motion that social sciences inquiry can only access
reality by utilising scientific techniques as well as methods [35]. William James, in 1898, as he was delivering
a public speech was the first to make use of the term Pragmatism; however, he acknowledged that he was not
the first one to use the term pragmatism as he had taken the term from Charles Pierce, who himself borrowed
the word “pragmatic” from Kant’s Kritik der reinen Vernunft (Critique of pure reasons). [35], [40] claim that
in 1979, Richard Rorty popularised the term pragmatism in the field of philosophy and went as far as adding
it to the American research language. The etymology of the word pragmatism is a Greek word “pragma”
which means action and is the main idea of pragmatism [41].
Pragmatists are of the view that reality is not in a state of equilibrium; it can alternate depending on the
situation. Similarly, the universe also is not at a state equilibrium, as t changes consistently to a state of
becoming. The universe changes through doing, as doing is the manner of changing existence. Action acts as
a mediator or intermediary. Thus, actions are essential in pragmatism [23], [35], [37]. Hence the learners will
embark on chess training in order to explore if it has influence on mathematics performance, in line with
multiple actions to seeking the truth or different ways of achieving the results. [37] aligned his work with John
Dewey to develop a relevant approach to pragmatism. He identified three widely- shared ideas of pragmatism
that indicates that pragmatists concentrate on the nature of experience rather than other philosophies that
denote nature of reality. Firstly, “actions cannot be separated from the situations and contexts in which they
occur” [38]. This indicates that if chess is trained at the same time mathematics being taught, the two would
not be separated. [37] asserts our beliefs emanate from the repeated experiences of predictable outcomes.
Secondly, “actions are linked to consequences in ways that are open to change” [38]. The study seeks to
explore the influence of chess training on mathematics performance, meaning that a particular action warrants
a particular response; for example, change in that action results in a different response. Finally, “actions
depend on worldviews that are socially shared sets of beliefs” [38]. Pragmatists have a strong feeling that if
people are different, their experiences are different as well and their worldview cannot be the same as a result.
S. A. Tachie and J. M. Ramathe, 2021 Technology Reports of Kansai University
7754
Mathematics performance is a problem so to overcome this problem various approaches can be used. The
possibility of performing the same way in a similar circumstance and assigning similar ways to the results of
those actions depend on the depth of shared belief about that particular circumstance. Thus, paradigms can be
both individually unique and socially shared [37]. The underpinning here is different styles and methods can
be utilised to overcome the poor mathematics performance and, in this instance, I have decided on the chess
training approach.
5. Literature review
5.1 Chess training in schools
Concerns of the poor mathematics performance have been raised in the United States of America (USA) as
well as in Europe [24], [28], [43]. South Africa has the same concerns with poor performance of learners, so
this study seeks to explore the influence of chess training in mathematics performance in the rural areas of
South Africa. An experimental study by [50] was carried out in with 568 Italian primary school learners to
establish if chess could ameliorate scores emerging from the Program for International Student Assessment
(PISA) mathematics assessment. The results indicated that there was a positive improvement particularly in
problem-solving skills which would have an effect on mathematics achievement. The current study was
conducted in a rural locality with secondary school learners in an attempt to establish whether the results from
using chess as an approach in Italy could be applicable in South Africa. [13] indicated that the relevant age to
commence learning the fundamentals of chess is 7-10 years. [26] postulated that even younger kids can be
introduced to the beautiful game of chess as young as 5 years as already they are able to reason and integrate
multiple relations. According to [40], human beings progress through have stages and phases of life and some
are fragile and vulnerable and appraisal is needed during those stages. Humans should be properly armed by
relevant mechanism, which deals with various characteristics such as reading and writing. [40] further asserts
that reading can be done at any stage and phase of a human being’s life; however, he denotes that children
learn faster than adults. [22] indicated that the relevant age to start playing chess is as a result of a scientific
correlation between the age of commencing and the skill obtained from playing chess, which emanates from
neuronal level, reduction in plasticity and the consolidation of anatomical circuits which tend to occur around
the age of twelve. [22] further state that when learners are exposed to chess at a tender age, it is pivotal for
many reasons: that is, boosting of the attainment of the acquisition of knowledge in chess also for the ability
to calculate moves ahead on a chessboard. When young people occupy themselves with chess and attend chess
club sessions, their minds become active resulting in them developing good habits [22].
For self-confidence, [40] argues that development needs to be undertaken during the early days of schooling,
since learners are open to learning more. Thus, Erikson (1972) affirmed that unknown challenges, like the
playing of chess, rewards efforts put in, as this contributes to self-esteem and confidence as well as self-belief
which attributes to learning and various other achievements [10]. Learners who have high self-confidence and
belief in themselves can apply that to the learning of mathematics. [31] asserts that government schools are in
disarray in South Africa with education delivery being unsatisfactory. One way of addressing various factors
such as low mathematics performance is teaching learners to play chess from the pre-school level. The main
focus of this study is based on the use of chess in secondary schools in a rural vicinity, which offer mathematics
curriculum as per the DBE. I am of the opinion that there are educational benefits if children are exposed to
chess training particularly as it could influence how learners study mathematics and that result in improved
mathematics performance.
6. The Influence of Chess on the Learning of Mathematics
[17], [46] stated that many studies have reported aligning factors of chess instruction on mathematical problem
ISSN: 04532198
Volume 63, Issue 08, August, 2021
7755
solving; however, a few of those studies utilised sound methodological methods, therefore the conclusions
that were reached tend to be questionable. [29] reviewed various studies which indicated aligning effects of
chess on mathematics problem solving in classrooms. She alludes to the fact that benefits of chess in
mathematics might arise from the fact that chess uses notations, which might assist learners in understanding
mathematics. Isabella further indicates that notation is associated with visio-spatial patterns on a chessboard,
while mathematics is associated with pure symbolic manipulation.
[15] suggests that chess is a physical game in need of mental ability to strategise and configure movement of
pieces on the chess-board. [47] expands that chess being a mental game impacts on the development of
mathematical abilities in topics such as geometry. [51] illustrates various ways in which chess influences
mathematical thinking. [51] further notes that chess players, like mathematicians, check the predicament and
thinks of ways to go about solving the problem and as a result, similar approaches are utilised when
encountering problems.
For mathematics learners to go through a thought algorithm, they would make use of the mental mechanism
as well as thinking about how to think.
Figure 1: Mathematics calculation
Mathematics teaching is constantly being researched to develop effective alternative ways to enhance
mathematics performance. One of the alternative ways that has been suggested is the role of play, solely
because learners enjoy playing and they can learn best when playing. [6], [42] assert that essential mathematics
concepts could be learnt while playing as great motivation, perpetuated by play, contributes to implicit
learning, resulting in the development of cognitive skills such as concentration and intelligence which could
positively affect mathematics performance.
[36], [45] suggested that music instruction and working memory training have no influence on the cognitive
ability or academic achievement. However, [39] have indicated that video game training has an influence on
the cognitive ability. In relation to the current study, the researchers pursued a similar narrative to that of chess
training, if indeed it has an influence on the cognitive abilities which can impact mathematics performance.
[46], [49] suggested that chess has a certain manner in which the mind functions to sequentially analyse moves
on a chess board which are very similar to how sequential mathematical analysis. This study explores the
influence of chess training on developing skills such as sequential mathematical analysis with Grade 9 learners
in a rural area in South Africa.
7. The Content of Mathematics and Chess Lessons
A reflection creates a mirror image of the original point or object. Each reflection depends on the line of
reflection, which acts as a mirror.
S. A. Tachie and J. M. Ramathe, 2021 Technology Reports of Kansai University
7756
Figure 2: Reflection on a Cartesian plane
In a Cartesian plane above, the original point and its image will always lie equidistant from the reflection line.
Reflections in the x-axis: The x-value stays the same, the y-value changes its sign. Stated as a rule, this give
us (x; y)→ (x; -y) A (- 4; 2) → A’’(-4; 2) and P(-8; -5)→P’’(-8;5) Reflections in the y-axis: The y-value stays
the same, the x-coordinate changes its sign. Stated as a rule, this give us (x; y) → (-x; y) A (-4; 2) → A’ (4;
2) and P (-8; -5) →P’ (8; 5) Reflections in the line y=x interchanges the x- and y-coordinates. Stated as a rule
this gives us (x; y) → (y; x) A (-4; 2) → A’’’ (2; -4) and P (-8; -5) → P’’’ (-5; -8).
8. Population
The population consisted of Grade 9 learners in the Thaba Nchu region of the Free State, and the sample
consist of learners who were doing mathematics at the seven (7) schools where chess was being offered.
To establish which of the schools offer or do not offer chess training, a survey in the form of a questionnaire
was administered. Cluster sampling technique was employed with 70 learners being surveyed using a
questionnaire to establish which schools offered chess training. This means that at most ten (10) learners per
school from the seven (7) high schools participated. This move relates to [25] who created a cluster sample as
the foundation for their questionnaire survey. Validity of the questionnaires was ensured through a pilot study
with ten learners. The researchers also tested the reliability of the instrument through Cronbach’s alpha
coefficient.
9. Data Analysis
The questionnaire was administered to a selected group of Grade 9 learners from seven different schools in
Thaba Nchu in the Motheo district of the Free State. The first section presents an analysis of the questionnaire
starting with the biographic details leading on to questions about chess.
10. Biographic Information of Quantitative Participants
This section begins with presenting biographic information about the participants in terms of gender and age.
10.1 Gender of participants
The gender distribution of participants is presented in Figure 4.1.
ISSN: 04532198
Volume 63, Issue 08, August, 2021
7757
Figure 3: Gender of participants
Figure 3 shows that out of the seven schools, 58,6% were male participants compared to 41,4% female. In the
schools that offered chess training, 40% of the participants were females compared to 60% males. It further
emerged that in the non-chess schools, 42% of the participants were females compared to 58% being male.
This trend was not particularly surprising as participation was voluntary and it seems that males are more
interested in participating in chess which means that chess tends to be a male-dominated sport.
10.2 Age of participants
This question intended to find out the age distribution of the participants Table 4.1 indicates that the majority
of learners (37.1% N=26) aged 15, followed by 17 (24.3%) who were the 16-year-olds while 12 (17.1%) were
the 14-year-olds. In the two schools that offered chess training, all participants were aged between 14 and 17
years old.
Table 1: Age of participants
Age
Aggregate ages
Ages in chess
schools
Ages in non-chess
schools
Frequency
Frequency
%
Frequency
%
14
12
5
25
7
14
15
26
9
45
17
34
16
17
3
15
14
28
17
10
3
15
7
14
18
3
0
0
3
6
19
and
abo
ve
2
0
0
2
4
Tota
l
70
20
100
50
100
S. A. Tachie and J. M. Ramathe, 2021 Technology Reports of Kansai University
7758
11. Presentation and Discussion of Findings
This section presents the findings emerging from the analysis of the questionnaire data which focused on chess
training and learners’ understanding of the chess game.
11.1 The Extent to Which Schools Offer Chess Training
Figure 4: Extent of offering chess in schools
The study sought to determine the extent to which chess was offered in schools. Figure 4 shows that out of
the random sample of seven schools to participate in the quantitative phase, only two (2) schools (29%) offered
chess while five (5) (71%) of the schools did not. It therefore meant that about three quarters of the schools
in that district did not offer chess with only 25% offering the game. This finding can be interpreted at a broader
scale in that many schools in South Africa do not offer chess to their learners despite the impact of learners’
participating in these extra-curricular activities may have on their academic performance. As such, to some
extent learners’ poor performance in mathematics might be directly related to their non-participation in chess.
Schools offering chess training sessions
Figure 5: Schools offering chess training sessions
Twenty-one (30%) participants indicated that that chess training sessions were being offered in their schools
with 49 (70%) indicating that chess training was not offered. However, a single learner indicated that their
school offered chess sessions while the rest indicated otherwise which could have meant that the learner had
practice sessions with friends or privately. Overall, 30% of participants specified that chess training sessions
ISSN: 04532198
Volume 63, Issue 08, August, 2021
7759
were offered in schools versus 70% who said there were no chess sessions which gives an indication that chess
training was not a common practice in many rural schools.
As much as there is a view of the positive influence of chess, the study found that very few schools offer chess
training to learners. Research also shows that high school learners are not too late to start chess lessons as the
skills developed during chess training could influence the development of vital skills which could be
transferred to the classroom environment. However, in order to be a good chess player, various strategies of
chess need to be learned. These questions regarding the extent that learners understand chess were asked and
these included queries about explaining En Passant, algebraically notating to keep track of the game,
establishing if a move is allowed for a piece, identifying a castling situation, calculating material advantage,
identifying a fianchetto, identifying the possibility of stalemate, reconstructing the sequence of chessboard
events and identifying a three-position repetition.
11.2 The Extent to which Learners Understand Chess
The study sought to establish learners’ understanding of chess and the results are
as represented in the following section.
11.2.1 I can explain En Passant
En Passant is a move in chess where Player A moves his pawn for the 1st time over 2 squares in such a manner
that it is next to Player B’s pawn horizontally, then Player B Captures Player A’s pawn vertically. This is a
unique capturing chess move that only occurs immediately when a pawn advance two squares and would have
been captured if it advanced one square.
Figure 6: I can explain En Passant
Figure 6 depicts that out of the 70 participants, 37 (52,9%) strongly disagreed that they can explain En Passant,
8 (11,4%) disagreed and 3 (4,3%) were either unsure. Three participants strongly agreed with 19 (27,1%)
agreeing that they could explain En Passant.
In schools that offered chess, all learners were able to explain En Passant as 17 (85%) agreed while 3 (15%)
strongly agreed to that notion.
11.2.2 I can algebraically notate
Algebraic notation is denoting chessboard squares by allocating letters a to h to each file starting from white
S. A. Tachie and J. M. Ramathe, 2021 Technology Reports of Kansai University
7760
side and going left to establish if a move is allowed. Algebraic notation is a way of recording moves using
letters and numbers that mark files and ranks of the chessboard.
Figure 7: I can algebraically notate
Figure 7 shows that 44.3% of the participants strongly disagreed that they can algebraically notate the game
whereas 17.1% disagreed. A combined total of 22 learners (31.4%) agreed or strongly agreed that they can
algebraically notate their games. In non-chess offering schools, only 4% (N=2) indicated that they can
algebraically notate in comparison to learners from schools that offered chess, where all 20 learners (100%)
confirmed that they can notate the game as 6 (30%) agreed while 14 (70%) strongly agreed to the statement.
Research shows that chess grandmasters could have approximately 100 000 chunks of knowledge associated
with chess positions, which play a role in evaluating combinations and deciding on the best line of play [14],
[18]. [20], [21] concur that chess players have an excellent memory, stating that chess players are able to recall
positions and random legal positions on a chessboard, a skill which develops over time with learners notating
their chess games. [20] further acclaim that chess players have specific knowledge of structures, which are
embedded in the long-term memory resulting from prolonged chess practice.
11.2.3 I can establish if a move is allowed for a piece
In order to play the game of chess effectively, learners need to know the various pieces that make up a
chessboard and understand how they move, which is in compliance.
ISSN: 04532198
Volume 63, Issue 08, August, 2021
7761
Figure 8: I can establish if a move is allowed for a piece
In Figure 8, combined data for all schools reflected that there was a strong disagreement of 35,7% and a
disagreement of 18,6% to the knowledge that participants could establish if a move is allowed for a piece,
only 10% were unsure while 14,3% and 21,4% respectively agreed and strongly agreed that they knew how
chess pieces moved. Participants in chess-offering schools could all establish if a move for a piece was allowed
while 90% of participants from non-chess schools either were unsure or could not establish whether or not a
piece move was allowed. Various suggestions have been made about chess training duration. [44] report to
have given learners 30 hours of chess instruction while [50] blended 10 to 15 hours of a chess course supported
by computer assisted training (CAT). It was felt that in both instances, learners had the basics to embark on a
game of chess.
11.2.4 I can identify castling situation
The study sought to establish if participants could identify a Castling situation which is a move of the king
and either rook of the same colour along the player’s first rank, counting as a single move of the king and
executed as follows: the king is transferred from its original square two squares towards the rook on its original
squares, then that rook is transferred to the square the king has just crossed. It is only done when the King and
Rook have yet to move.
Table 2: I can identify a castling situation
Table 2 shows that all learners from non-chess schools were unaware of the castling situation as only 8%
(N=4) of the learners agreed that they could identify a castling situation. On the other hand, all participants
from schools that offered chess agreed (70%) or strongly agreed (30%) that they were aware of and could
S. A. Tachie and J. M. Ramathe, 2021 Technology Reports of Kansai University
7762
identify a castling situation.
Mastery in chess requires deep training and study. It comes only from having more, better, or more efficiently
organised knowledge in a domain. [22] demonstrated that a long period of practice and study is required to
become a master and that the best period to begin studying seriously or to join a chess club, for players who
obtained a title, is 12 years old. On the other hand, studies have shown that instruction and development of
executive functions have a major role in the development of social competencies and academic abilities [4].
Chess rehearsal extrapolates to the abilities of learners to comprehend mathematics (Root, 2008). Amount of
time spent on training chess could be of great significance to mathematics performance of learners, giving an
indication if chess training has an influence on mathematics performance.
11.2.5 I can calculate material advantage
Material advantage is an important concept in chess and relates to the value of the pieces that each player has
on the board. It entails calculating the amount of force each side has using the points allocated to each piece.
It is also a calculation done on whether you or your opponent has more material on the chess-board.
Figure 9: I can calculate material advantage
Figure 9 indicates that 44,3% (N=31) of the participants strongly disagree and 14,3% (N=10) who disagreed
that they could calculate material advantage while 11,4% (N=8) were not sure. On the other hand, only 15,3%
(N=11) agreed that they can calculate material advantage. Data obtained from the chess schools reported that
50% (N=10) agreed and 50% strongly agreed that they could calculate material advantage. As such, all
learners in schools which offered chess training understood how to calculate material advantage. In the non-
chess schools only 2% agreed that they could calculate material advantage.
Metacognition is described by [40] as one’s knowledge and beliefs about one’s own cognitive processes.
These are used to regulate one’s cognitive processes to maximise learning and memory, in other words, the
understanding and controlling of our cognition. [16] further explains metacognition as thinking about thinking,
while [34] goes on to say metacognition is the monitoring and control of the thought algorithm. Bechtel (2008)
describes cognitive as a dynamic mental mechanism process, which can be a chain of information-processing
steps.
11.2.6 I can identify a Fianchetto
A Fianchetto is a development pattern where the bishop is placed to the second rank of b or g file with Knight
ISSN: 04532198
Volume 63, Issue 08, August, 2021
7763
Pawn pushed one or two squares ahead or during an early stage of the game, a player moves his bishop on an
empty b2, g2, b7 or g7 square.
Table 3: Learners’ ability to identify a Fianchetto
Table 3 interestingly shows that 100% of learners from chess schools are able to identify a Fianchetto. As
expected, the percentage of participants from the non- chess schools was 88% saying they could not identify
a Fianchetto.
11.2.7 I can identify the possibility of a stalemate
A stalemate is where the player has no legal move and his king is not in check.
Figure 10: I can identify the possibility of a stalemate
Figure 10 shows that 41,4% and 17,1% respectively strongly disagreed or disagreed that they can identify the
possibility of a stalemate with 10% not being sure. In chess schools, 45% agreed that they can identify the
possibility of a stalemate while 55%. The implication is the majority of learners in the non-chess offering
schools were unaware of that statement.
11.2.8 I can reconstruct the sequence of chessboard events
Constructing the sequence of chessboard events reassemble the legal pattern of the moves to get back to initial
starting position.
S. A. Tachie and J. M. Ramathe, 2021 Technology Reports of Kansai University
7764
Figure 11: I can reconstruct the sequence of chessboard events
In the combined schools’ data, 44,3% (N=31) and 12,9% (N=9) of participants strongly disagreed or disagreed
that they are able to reconstruct the sequence of chessboard events., At 50% each, learners in chess schools
agreed and strongly agreed that they are able to reconstruct the sequence of chessboard events.
11.2.9 I can identify Three-Position Repetition
A three-point repetition is same position repeated three consecutive times which results in a draw.
Figure 12: I can identify Three-Position Repetition
Figure 12 shows that 42.9% (N=30) strongly disagreed that they can identify a three-position repetition. 15,7%
disagreed while 10% were unsure. Some 17,1% and 14,3% respectively agreed or strongly agreed that they
can identify a three- position repetition
Figure 13 below shows that all learners from the chess training schools knew how to identify three-position
repetition. 50% (N=10) agreed while 50% strongly agreed that they can identify three-position repetition.
ISSN: 04532198
Volume 63, Issue 08, August, 2021
7765
Figure 13: Ability to identify three-position repetition in chess schools
On the other hand, Figure 14 clearly shows that learners from non-chess schools did not know how to identify
three-position repetition as the majority strongly disagreed that they can identify three-position repetition.
More so, more than 20% disagreed that they can identify three-position repetition.
Figure 14: Ability to identify three-position repetition in non-chess schools
11.3 The Extent to which Schools Provided Learners with Chess Training
Out of the cluster sample of seven schools participating in the quantitative phase, it emerged that only
two schools (29%) offered chess while five (71%) of the schools did not offer chess.
Chess was an unfamiliar game among the studied schools.
12. Conclusion
The study concludes that about three quarters of the schools in that district did not offer chess while only
slightly above 25% offered the game. Slightly more than half 50% of the 70 participants strongly disagreed
that they can explain En Passant. The majority of the participants in non-chess schools strongly disagreed that
they can algebraically notate the game whereas in chess offering schools, all 20 learners could notate the
game. Learners who were exposed to chess could identify if a move was allowed for a piece or not. Knowledge
about the Castling situation was unfamiliar to learners from non-chess schools but common to all learners
S. A. Tachie and J. M. Ramathe, 2021 Technology Reports of Kansai University
7766
from chess schools. All experimental learners in chess schools understood how to calculate material
advantage. In the non-chess schools only 2% agreed that they can calculate material advantage while 98%
either could not or were unsure. All experimental participants could identify a Fianchetto while nearly 90%
of the control group could not identify a Fianchetto. In chess schools, all participants could identify the
possibility of a stalemate while the majority of learners in the non-chess schools were unaware of that aspect.
All learners in chess schools at least agreed that they can reconstruct the sequence of chessboard events. In
the non-chess schools, about two thirds strongly disagreed about their ability to reconstruct sequence of
chessboard events.
13. Recommendations
Recommendations were made to the above findings. For instance, the study recommends that since the
influence of chess training may have positive impact, chess training can be introduced to schools to enhance
the mathematics performance of learners.
14. References
[1] Bankauskas, D. (2000). Teaching chess to young children. Young Children, 55(4), 33-34.
[2] Bart, W. M (2014). On the effect of chess training on scholastic achievement. Frontiers in Psychology, 5,
762. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00762
[3] Berkman, R. M. (2004). The chess and mathematics connection: More than just a game. Mathematics
Teaching in the Middle School, 9(5), 246-250. https://doi.org/ 10.5951/mtms.9.5.0246
[4] Biesta, G., & Barbules, N. (2004). Pragmatism and educational research. Rowman & Littlefield Blair, C.,
Zelazo, P. D., & Greenberg, M. T. (2005). The measurement of executive function in young children.
Developmental Neuropsychology, 28, 561-571.
[5] Boruch, R. (2011). Does playing chess improve math learning? Promising (and inexpensive) results from
Italy. University of Pennsylvania.
[6] Brousseau, G. (1997). Theory of didactical situations in mathematics. Kluwer Academic.
[7] Bulgren, J. A., Deshler, D. D., & Lenz, B. K. (2007). Engaging adolescents with LD in higher-order
thinking about history concepts using integrated content enhancement routines. Journal of Learning
Disabilities, 40(2), 121-133. https://doi.org/10.1177/00222194070400020301
[8] Celone, J. (2001). The effects of a chess program on abstract reasoning and problem solving in elementary
school children. Ann Arbor, MI. Bell & Howell Information and Learning Co.
[9] Costa, A., & Kallick, B. (2009). Learning and leading with habits of mind: 16 essential characteristics for
success. Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development.
[10] De Corte, E. (2003). Transfer as the productive use of acquired knowledge, skills, and motivations.
Current Directions in Psychological Science, 12, 142-146. https://doi.org/ 10.1111/1467-8721.01250
[11] Deshler, D. D., Lenz, B. K., Bulgren, J., Schumaker, J. B., Davis, B., & Grossen, B. (2004). Adolescents
with disabilities in high school setting: Student characteristics and setting dynamics. Learning Disabilities: A
ISSN: 04532198
Volume 63, Issue 08, August, 2021
7767
Contemporary Journal, 2(2), 30-48.
[12] Deters, T. N. (2006). John Dewey's theory of inquiry: an interpretation of a classical American approach
to logic (Doctoral dissertation). Texas A&M University.
[13] Doll, J., & Mayr U. (1987). Intelligence and performance in chess A study of chess experts.
Psychologische Beiträge, 29, 270-289.
[14] Eysenck, M. W., & Keane, M. T. (2005). Cognitive psychology: A student’s handbook (5th ed.).
Wadsworth.
[15] Fine, R. (1965). The psychology of blindfold chess: An introspective account. Acta Psychologica, 24,
352-370. https://doi.org/10.1016/0001-6918(65)90021-1
[16] Flavell, J. H. (1979). Metacognition and cognitive monitoring: A new area of cognitive- development
inquiry. American Psychologist, 34(10), 906-911. https://doi.org/ 10.1037/0003-066x.34.10.906
[17] Frank, A., & D’Hondt, W. (1979). Aptitudes and learning chess in Zaire. Psychopathologie Africane, 15,
81-98.
[18] Gobet, F. (1997). A pattern-recognition theory of search in expert problem solving. Thinking &
reasoning, 3(4), 291-313. https://doi.org/10.1080/135467897394301
[19] Gobet, F., & Campitelli, G. (2006). Educational benefits of chess instruction. A critical review. In T.
Redman (Ed.), Chess and education. Selected essays from the Koltanowski Conference (pp. 124e143).
University of Texas.
[20] Gobet, F., & Simon, H. A. (1996a). The roles of recognition processes and lookahead search in time-
constrained expert problem solving: Evidence from grandmaster level chess. Psychological Science, 7, 52
55. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9280. 1996.tb00666.x
[21] Gobet, F., & Simon, H. A. (1996b). Templates in chess memory: A mechanism for recalling several
boards. Cognitive Psychology, 31, 1-40. https://doi.org/10.10 06/cogp.1996.0011
[22] Gobet, F., & Campitelli, G. (2007). The role of domain-specific practice, handedness and starting age in
chess. Developmental Psychology, 43, 159172. https://doi.org/ 10.1037/0012-1649.43.1.159
[23] Goldkuhl, G. (2012). Pragmatism vs interpretivism in qualitative information systems research. European
journal of information systems, 21(2), 135-146. https://doi.org/ 10.1057/ejis.2011.54
[24] Grek, S. (2009). Governing by numbers: The PISA ‘effect’ in Europe. Journal of Education Policy, 24,
2337. https://doi.org/10.1080/02680930802412669
[25] Haber, S., & Reichel, A. (2005). Identifying performance measures of small venturesthe case of the
tourism industry. Journal of small business management, 43(3), 257-286. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-
627x.2005.00137.x
S. A. Tachie and J. M. Ramathe, 2021 Technology Reports of Kansai University
7768
[26] Halford, G. S., Wilson, W. H., & Phillips, S. (1998). Processing capacity defined by relational
complexity: Implications for comparative, developmental and cognitive psychology. Behavioral and Brain
Sciences, 21, 803-829. https://doi.org/ 10.1017/s0140525x98001769
[27] Hall, R. (1983). Why chess in the schools. ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 237 368.
[28] Hanushek, E. A., Peterson, P. E., & Woessmann, L. (2012). Achievement growth: International and US
state trends in student achievement. Education Next, 12(4), 24- 33.
[29] Isabella, J. (2010). Chess in the Math Curriculum. In P. S. MacDonald (Ed.), The benefits of chess in
education. A collection of studies and papers on chess and education (pp. 64-66). Retrieved from
http://www.oycc.ca/wrcc/Benefits%20of%20chess_screen.pdf
[30] Joseph, E., Easvaradoss, V., & Solomon, N. J. (2016). Impact of Chess Training on Academic
Performance of Rural Indian School Children. Open Journal of Social Scences, 4, 20-24.
https://doi.org/10.4236/jss.2016.42004
[31] Kostenuik, A. (2012). Chess helping kids improve school results in South Africa Retrieved from
http://www.chess.blog.com/2012/11/chess-helping-kids-improve-school.html
[32] Khosrorad, R., Kouhbanani, S. S., & Sani, A. R. (2014). Chess training for improving executive functions
and mathematics performance of students with mathematics disorders. International Journal of Educational
Investigations, 1(1), 283-295.
[33] Margulies, S. (1992). The effect of chess on reading scores: District nine chess program, second year
report. The American Chess Foundation.
[34] Martinez, M. E. (2006). What is metacognition? Phi delta kappan, 87(9), 696-699.
https://doi.org/10.1177/003172170608700916
[35] Maxcy, S. J. (2003). The new pragmatism and social science and educational research. In E. Samier (Ed.),
Ethical foundations for educational administration (pp. 134-152). Routledge.
[36] Melby-Lervåg, M., & Hulme, C. (2016). There is no convincing evidence that working memory training
is effective: A reply to Au et al. (2014) and Karbach and Verhaeghen (2014). Psychonomic Bulletin & Review,
23(1), 324-330. https://doi.org/10.3758/s13423-015-0862-z
[37] Morgan, D. L. (2014). Pragmatism as a paradigm for social research. Qualitative inquiry, 20(8), 1045-
1053. https://doi.org/10.1177/1077800413513733
[38] Morgan, D. L. (2014). Integrating Qualitative and Quantitative Methods: A Pragmatic Approach. Sage.
[39] Oei, A. C., & Patterson, M. D. (2015). Enhancing perceptual and attentional skills requires common
demands between the action video games and transfer tasks. Frontiers in Psychology, 6, 111.
https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00113
[40] Ormrod, J. E. (2006). Educational Psychology. Developing Learners. New Pearson Education
ISSN: 04532198
Volume 63, Issue 08, August, 2021
7769
International.
[41] Pansiri, J. (2005). Pragmatism: A methodological approach to researching strategic alliances in tourism.
Tourism and Hospitality Planning & Development, 2(3), 191-206.
https://doi.org/10.1080/14790530500399333
[42] Pelay, N. (2011). Jeu et apprentissages mathématiques: Élaboration du concept de contrat didactique et
ludique en context d'animation scientifique. Retrieved from https://tel.archives-ouvertes.fr/tel-
00665076/file/Pe lay_nicolas_2010_these_jeu_et_apprentissages_mathematiques.pdf
[43] Richland, L. E., Stigler, J. W., & Holyoak, K. J. (2012). Teaching the conceptual structure of
mathematics. Educational Psychologist, 47, 189-203.
[44] Sala G., & Gobet F. (2016). Do the benefits of chess instruction transfer to academic and cognitive skills?
A meta-analysis. Educational Research Review, 18, 46-57. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.edurev.2016.02.002
[45] Sala, G., & Gobet, F. (2017). Does far transfer exist? Negative evidence from chess, music, and working
memory training. Current directions in psychological science, 26(6), 515- 520.
https://doi.org/10.1177/0963721417712760
[46] Scholz, M., Niesch, H., Steffen, O., Ernst, B., Loeffler, M., & Witruk, E. (2008). Impact of chess training
on mathematics performance and concentration ability of children with learning disabilities. International
Journal of Special Education, 23(3), 131-141.
[47] Sternberg, R. J. (2003). Cognitive Psychology (3rd ed.). Wadsworth.
[48] Strubing, J. (2007). Research as pragmatic problem solving. In A. Bryant & K. Charmaz (Eds.), Sage
Handbook of Grounded Theory (pp. 580-601). SAGE.
[49] Trinchero R., & Sala G. (2016). Chess Training and Mathematical Problem-Solving: The Role of
Teaching Heuristics in Transfer of Learning. Eurasia Journal of Mathematics, Science & Technology
Education 12(3), 655-668. https://doi.org/10.12973/ eurasia.2016.1255a
[50] Trinchero, R. (2013). Can Chess Training Improve Pisa Scores in Mathematics? An Experiment in Italian
Primary School. Kasparov Chess Foundation Europe.
[51] Wells, D. (2012). Games and Mathematics: Subtle Connections. Cambridge University Press.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 4.0
International License.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Article
Full-text available
Chess masters and expert musicians appear to be, on average, more intelligent than the general population. Some researchers have thus claimed that playing chess or learning music enhances children’s cognitive abilities and academic attainment. We here present two meta-analyses assessing the effect of chess and music instruction on children’s cognitive and academic skills. A third meta-analysis evaluated the effects of working memory training—a cognitive skill correlated with music and chess expertise—on the same variables. The results show small to moderate effects. However, the effect sizes are inversely related to the quality of the experimental design (e.g., presence of active control groups). This pattern of results casts serious doubts on the effectiveness of chess, music, and working memory training. We discuss the theoretical and practical implications of these findings; extend the debate to other types of training such as spatial training, brain training, and video games; and conclude that far transfer of learning rarely occurs.
Article
Full-text available
In recent years, pupils' poor achievement in mathematics has been a concern in many Western countries. Chess instruction has been proposed as one way to remedy this state of affairs, as well as improving other academic topics such as reading and general cognitive abilities such as intelligence. The aim of this paper is to quantitatively evaluate the available empirical evidence that skills acquired during chess instruction in schools positively transfer to mathematics, reading and general cognitive skills. The selection criteria were satisfied by 24 studies (40 effect sizes), with 2,788 young people in the chess condition and 2,433 in the control groups. The results show (a) a moderate overall effect size (g = 0.338); (b) a tendency for a stronger effect on mathematical (g = 0.382) than reading skill (g = 0.248), and (c) a significant and positive effect of duration of treatment (Q(1) = 3.89, b = 0.0038, p < .05). However, no study used an "ideal design" including pre- and post-test, full random allocation of participants to conditions and, most importantly, both a do-nothing control group and an active control group - a problem common in education research. Directions for further research are discussed.
Article
Full-text available
The objective of this study was to examine the effect of chess training on academic performance of middle school children in rural India. The impact of chess on various academic courses was examined. The sample consisted of 100 students of sixth grade with an intervention group undergoing chess training and a control group. Statistical tests were carried out to examine whether the performance of students has improved after chess intervention. The results of the paired samples t-test analysis showed significant improvement in academic performances of students in English, social studies and science, after a year of training in chess skills. The study has important implications for education.
Article
Mathematics educators have known for a long time that competitive games can play a dual purpose in advancing our work. One type of game can act as a vehicle for mastering a certain skill, like “multiplication war,” in which each player lays down two cards and compares the products to determine who wins. A second type is useful for developing thinking strategies that have applications to mathematics. A simple game like “poison apple,” in which each child takes turns removing one or two apples from a tree until one person is stuck with the last apple, helps develops planning, strategizing, and pattern-recognition skills.
Article
Recently, chess in school activities has attracted the attention of policy makers, teachers and researchers. Chess has been claimed to be an effective tool to enhance children's mathematical skills. In this study, 931 primary school pupils were recruited and then assigned to two treatment groups attending chess lessons, or to a control group, and were tested on their mathematical problem-solving abilities. The two treatment groups differed from each other on the teaching method adopted: The trainers of one group taught the pupils heuristics to solve chess problems, whereas the trainers of the other treatment group did not teach any chess-specific problem-solving heuristic. Results showed that the former group outperformed the other two groups. These results foster the hypothesis that a specific type of chess training does improve children's mathematical skills, and uphold the idea that teaching general heuristics can be an effective way to promote transfer of learning.
Article
The aim of this study is to evaluate the benefit of chess in mathematics lessons for children with learning disabilities based on lower intelligence (IQ 70-85). School classes of four German schools for children with learning disabilities were randomly assigned to receive one hour of chess lesson instead of one hour of regular mathematics lessons per week for the duration of one school-year. Concentration and calculation abilities of children were measured before and after the year of study using standardised tests. The chess group was compared with the control group without chess lessons. Concentration abilities and calculation abilities for written tasks and gap tasks developed equally well in both groups. Calculation abilities for simple addition tasks and counting improved significantly more in the chess classes. We conclude that chess could be a valuable learning aid for children with learning disabilities. Transfer of chess lessons to improvement of basic mathematics skills has been observed.
Article
The possible cognitive benefits of working memory training programs have been the subject of intense interest and controversy. Recently two meta-analyses have claimed that working memory training can be effective in enhancing cognitive skills in adulthood (Au et al. Behavioural Brain Research 228:(1) 107-115, 2014) and stemming cognitive decline in old age (Karbach & Verhaeghen Psychological Science 25:2027-2037, 2014). The current article critically evaluates these claims. We argue that these meta-analyses produce misleading results because of (1) biases in the studies included, (2) a failure to take account of baseline differences when calculating effect sizes, and (3) a failure to emphasize the difference between studies with treated versus untreated control groups. We present new meta-analyses and conclude that there is no convincing evidence that working memory training produces general cognitive benefits.