Chess is attracting younger players

Research shows chess has a positive effect on young players, improving grades and memory.

​Chess club makes right moves to teach younger generation
PAULA HULBURT
February 7 2018

It's a game of strategy and patience that has been played for centuries but a new chess club is attracting a fresh fan base.

Every Sunday, at Joocy Loocy Cafe in Blenheim, people can be found, heads bent in concentration, in front of a chess board.

The background hum of conversation is low and cups of coffee sit next to their boards while players plot their next move.

Chess is going through something of a revival at the cafe and the next generation is ready to make their move.

Chess player Rod Smith started the group at the end of last year.

He says he wanted to pass on the skills of the game to ensure it did not die out and hopes to soon set up a school-wide tournament to keep the momentum going.

"We have players from 8-years-old upwards and the level of skill among a couple of the younger players is really good.

When she's not serving customers, Madalyn Kotze is learning to play chess at Blenheim's Joocy Loocy Cafe

"There's something special about playing across an actual board from someone instead of online.

"It's the enjoyment of playing with a person and not a computer," he says.

The history of chess goes back almost 1500 years. The game originated in northern India in the 6th century AD and spread to Persia.

It is a game often cited by psychologists as an effective way to improve memory function.

Research shows chess has a positive effect on young players, improving grades and memory.

"We get a range of people coming in to play, some who play well and others who are just learning," Smith says.

"It's a casual arrangement, you just show up anytime between 10am and 1pm. It's completely free and people bring their own boards along.

"From my point of view, it's a way of giving back to the community. I'd love to see more people come along and give it a try," he says.

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