Tuesday, November 29th, 2011
“Over the last twenty years, there have been a lot of chess games played within these walls. In truth, I am less interested in the games than in seeing how kids develop because of them. I like to think that learning chess helps children grow up to be good people and contribute something to society.
“While a few of the kids who train here go on to be very talented players, many just come to learn and have fun. Chess is a game of creativity, and kids can engage in competitive imagination. I realized the potential of the game when I was a high school teacher in the 70′s. I found that teaching kids to play chess had a profound, and almost instantaneous impact on their academic performance and social skills.
“By the 1980′s, I thought about creating a facility to teach chess. In the 90′s, it became a reality when we opened the U.S. Chess Center. Now, we teach 2,000 kids a week. And, I remember a time when it was not cool to play chess! Fortunately, the game has crept into youth culture, which I think is a move in the right direction.
“It would be great if everyone could learn to play chess. The game teaches you that there are consequences for your actions, that planning ahead is valuable, that being courageous has merit, and that you should be a good sportman.”
David Mehler is the Founder and President of the U.S. Chess Center, which teaches chess to children, especially those in the inner city, as a means of improving their academic and social skills.