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Small Caucasus country is the first in the world to make chess mandatory in schools, aiming to build a better society.
"Chess is having a good influence on their performance in other subjects too. The kids are learning how to think, it's making them more confident," said teacher Rosanna Putanyan, watching her pupils play from the periphery.
The chess initiative is not only meant to scout young talent but also build a better society. Armen Ashotyan, Armenia's education minister, told Al Jazeera the project is aimed at fostering creative thinking.
"Chess develops various skills - leadership capacities, decision-making, strategic planning, logical thinking and responsibility," Ashotyan said. "We are building these traits in our youngsters. The future of the world depends on such creative leaders who have the capacity to make the right decisions, as well as the character to take responsibility for wrong decisions."
Developing mental capacities
A team of Armenian psychologists headed by Ruben Aghuzumstyan has been researching the impact of chess on young minds since last year.
Aghuzumstyan said preliminary results show that children who play chess score better in certain personality traits such as individuality, creative thinking, reflexes and comparative analysis.
"During the first few years of school, children are equipped to learn with games. So for kids who are seven, eight and nine, learning is better through games, and chess is an optimised game which develops a lot of areas of the brain," Aghuzumstyan said.
The psychologist, who is also a member of the Armenian Chess Federation, said chess improves social skills as well as mental strength.
More than $3m has been spent on the project so far to supply chess equipment and learning aids in all Armenian schools, Ashotyan added. The majority of the budget was allocated to train chess players to become good teachers. In coming years, spending on chess is expected to rise, he said.
The initiative is also attracting attention from other countries. Later this year, chess will be integrated into the national curriculum of Hungary's elementary schools. Countries such as Moldova, Ukraine and Spain are showing interest in running similar projects.
In Britain, the United States, Switzerland, India, Russia and Cuba schools have long offered chess as a subject, though no nationwide legislation making it compulsory exists.
Thoughts? Is this a viable strategy for building world leaders? Or more useful in simply grooming grand-master players? For my part, I like it.
players often form unofficial treaties for various reasons, such as safeguarding themselves from attacks on one border while they concentrate their forces elsewhere, or eliminating a player who has grown too strong. Because these agreements are not enforceable by the rules, these agreements are often broken. Alliance making/breaking can be one of the most important elements of the game, and it adds human interaction to a decidedly probabilistic game.
People touting chess as a marvelous way to develop thinking or social skills makes me laugh harder than people who promote video games as a wonderful way to develop eye/hand coordination.