Athletics for the Mind: 10 Reasons Chess Is Good For Your Family

October 30, 2019

When we think of volleyball, football, polo, basketball, cricket, or baseball, oftentimes a certain season of the year comes to mind as well as a particular region of the world or type of facility.


Chess, on the other hand - which is considered a sport by many - holds neither season, region, or venue. It is constricted neither by time or place. It is two colors, 32 pieces, and 64 squares. And, while it typically does not draw the big crowds or pack stadiums like its popular athletic counterparts, it has held the attention of the world over for a great while longer than any popular modern sport.

It certainly has our attention at Veritas Academy, where we like to study things that are time-tested, significant, impactful, thoughtful, and engaging. We play chess for the same reasons, and we love it here! Our 40+ member Chess Club, so popular that it worked off a waiting list last year, is testimony to that truth (Want to be part of that this year? Get your registration in by November 1 here!).

Chess elementary winners-1

Not only is it a popular activity, it's also a victorious and fruitful one! In last spring's Elementary competition for Lancaster and Lebanon Counties featuring dozens of schools, Veritas’ team finished 2nd place overall (missing first place by only 1/2 point)! Also, every one of our middle school students who participated in their year-end middle school league tournament brought home a personal award.

It's not surprising, really. Chess enhances a Classical Christian Education in many ways. The game encourages the same things that a classical education focuses on: grammar, logic, and rhetoric. In chess, one must know the fundamental movements and rules of all the pieces (grammar), how to move these pieces in a systematic, cohesive, and synergetic manner (logic), and, in order to be great at chess, you must know what your and your opponent’s moves truly communicate lest you be bamboozled into a trap (rhetoric).


A Transcendent Tradition

Chess, by its nature, breaks down barriers. Social issues over which wars have been fought, relationships destroyed, and nations divided lay prostrate before the 64 black and white squares of a chess board. When two people step up to a chess board, their gender, age, money, race, political leanings, and even physical, psychological, and mental disabilities are all left behind. Unlike other sports, people of all types have a full opportunity to excel in chess, and they do.

We all can learn from this game, just as civilizations have been learning from it for centuries. It is a thing of simple beauty, and, if we take that which it teaches us away from the board and carry it with us into our lives, the world will in fact become a more beautiful place.

If you still need convincing to take up this game yourself and teach your children to play, then here are 10 reasons you should do so.

10 Reasons to Take Up the Game of Chess With Your Family

1. Learn from mistakes

We all know that it is hard when life knocks us down, but it can be even harder to get back up afterwards. When you make a mistake in chess there is always opportunity to make a comeback, but it is not always easy to do so.

2. Taking responsibility

Everyone loses in chess at some point and there is no one else to blame! There are no teammates and no equipment malfunctions (at least none that I have ever heard of). You lost and you have to own it.


3. Planning Ahead

If you don’t plan ahead for your next chess move (or your next five moves) then you face the consequences. Just like with preparing for tests in school, planning for a meeting at work, or practicing before a big performance, if you don’t prepare adequately, you lose.

4. Respect Your Opponent

There are many customs in chess, but perhaps the most relevant for us today is the iconic handshake after a game. It can be sooooooo hard to look your opponent in the eye and tell him or her, “Good game”. Everything in you does not want to do so, but you must. Losing and winning with grace is a lost art in our culture, and chess reinforces the goodness of this practice.

5. Silent Action

Most people talk much more than they listen. In chess, talking gets you nowhere. You learn to watch, anticipate, plan, and act, all without speaking a word. My, how the world would be a better place if more of us did this!

6. Good vs. Evil

While your opponent isn’t typically evil in chess, there is a very clear delineation between one side and the other. In a world that blurs everything from morality to gender, chess provides a refreshingly unambiguous presentation of two distinct sides.

7. Productive and Versatile

Whether in the suffocating heat of August or in the chill of January, chess can be played at all times of the year, all times of day, indoors or outdoors. It is indeed the most ambidextrous sport of all.

8. Lifelong Activity

Long after the throes of youthful vigor pass, chess can be enjoyed and mastered. It is a sport that suits all ages, from those taking their first steps to those who can’t take many steps at all.

9. Ancient Roots

While its significance shouldn’t be taken for granted, it is nevertheless meaningful when something sticks around for a while. Chess has stuck around longer than any other popular game on earth. It was here before the fidget spinner, before Nintendo, before the first pitch was thrown in a diamond, before the first hopscotch pattern was skipped across, and even before the first Olympians took to the field.

10. Oh, and It's Fun.

Chess is a cultural icon of western civilization. It is a mark of logical thoughtfulness. It has endured the test of time. It shapes those who participate in it in ways they do not even know. It can shape you in ways you have not yet realized.

So, give it a try. Encourage your children to play. Play yourself. Play as a family. And in so doing, shape your mind and bring the beauty of chess to the world.


{{cta('5abb5a52-e909-4509-a832-f55ef61bda99','justifyright')}}Are you looking for a school that challenges your student to think deeply, to love fully, and to serve gladly? A school that instills a lifelong joy of learning and appreciation for God's truth, beauty, and goodness in all disciplines? You'll want to check out Classical Christian Education! Veritas is the only accredited Classical Christian School in Lancaster County. Visit us for an upcoming tour to see the difference you'll experience "only at Veritas!"



About our Guests

Jonathan Daughtrey

Executive Director of Administration

Jonathan Daughtrey

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