Chess Articles

The following is a list of Chess Articles that can be useful in aiding with chess research. These articles are in PDF format and are listed in alphabetical order by title for your convenience.

If you have any suggestions or know of any additional chess material that may enhance this list please feel free to email us at

Chess As a Way to Teach Thinking

Dianne D. Horgan
Department of Psychology
Memphis State University

While much recent research on decision-making and problem solving stresses the limits of rationality and how far we humans deviate from “good” decisions, chess is a situation in which humans can make unusually sound decisions. In fact, young children – not normally known for their rationality – can compete with adults on an even basis and make good decisions that appear rational or an­ alytic.

This raises some very interesting questions for ed­ucators:

How can children, before reaching the stage of formal operations, think so logically?

Studying the best thinking of which children are capable and how they de­ velop those skills may yield some valuable ideas for educators.

Chess and Benjamin Franklin – His Pioneering Contributions

by John McCrary
Past President and Past Vice President of the United States Chess Federation, and Past President of the US Chess Trust

“The Games of Chess is not merely an idle amusement; several very valuable qualities of the mind, useful in the course of human life, are to be acquired and strengthened by it, so as to become habits ready on all occasions;” – Benjamin Franklin, “ The Morals of Chess,” published in 1786.

In 1999, Benjamin Franklin was inducted into the US Chess Hall of Fame. He joined 28 others among the greatest players, writers, and leaders in American chess as members of that Hall, which is now housed in a magnificent building in Miami, Florida.

What did Franklin do to justify that very rare honor, which was granted by the US Chess Federation and the US Chess Trust? In fact, Franklin, among his many other pioneering achievements in many fields, has long been recognized as one of the earliest writers, popularizers, and players of chess in America.

Chess and the Transformation of American Values: Prospects for Popular Acceptance

by Troy L. Armstrong

“Chess never has been and never can be ought but a recreation. It should not be indulged in to the detriment of other and more serious avocations– should not absorb or engross the thoughts of those who worship at its shrine, but should be kept in the background and restrained within its proper provinces.” – Paul Morphy

“Chess is life.” – Robert J. Fischer


In a conference which has chosen to address itself to a topic as rich in possibilities as the uses and values of chess as a leisure activity, the present paper proposes to take the rather bold step of attempting to reach some tentative conclusions about the role that chess plays in American society at the present time.

Let us assume that we can discern a set of societal factors that determine:

  1. the way in which chess is perceived by the American public, and
  2. the extent to which chess is currently pursued as a leisure pastime in our society. If these assumptions are correct, then some insights can be gained regarding the meaning and significance of chess in our society.

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Chess as Education: Character Assasination or Life of the Mind?

by Tim Redman
University of Chicago

An element of divorce from reality is an important component of chess play, and of chess skill, as it is equally an important element of scientific skill.

It is highly significant that prodigies appear in only three fields: mathematics, music and chess. In all of these fields an adolescent can achieve expert skill and world fame, although his very greatest results may await him in his twenties or thirties. This phenomenon is due to the intrinsic nature of chess, or math, or music. In none of these endeavours does a mature or adult awareness seem to contribute in an important way towards success. Philosophers and physicists run a close second to mathematicians and chess player in their apparent divorce from their surroundings, or “spaciness” as it is known in ordinary language. If you don’t believe me, go attend a convention and look to see how they’re dressed. Or pick out the chess players from among other guests at a large hotel in a strange city. And how many players do we know who have been stopped by hotel detectives on their way to playing in a tournament?

And yet, though many may poke fun at the figure of the absent minded mathematics professor who can never quite come up with two socks that match each other, this ability to divorce one’s imagination from immediate surroundings is of great importance. The ability to live in a fantasy world, to imagine an interior space, governed by rules of its own, this ability that is much encouraged and developed by chess, what is this but the very essence of creativity? It is this very abil­ity which produces the most lasting and significant contributions in both the world of art and the world of science. Any manifestations of this creative faculty should be encouraged by us as educators. But as educators we must also ask, what can we expect specifically from chess and how can chess benefit our common endeavor?

Andrew Karklins, a strong master, once characterized chess as providing a home for all of “the lost intellectuals of the world”.

Is it a world apart? Or can chess provide an important introduction to and preparation for the intellectual disciplines? Let us examine some of the inherent features of the game in order to decide.

What distinguishes chess from all other games is what we might call its classical status. Chess has an historical and international dimension.

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Chess: Contributions to the Underst anding of Human Cognition

by Sarah E. Goldin
Carnegie-Mellon University

The chessmaster’s extraordinary performance has long fascinated the psychologist as well as the layman. Consider his phenomenal abilities: he announces a forced mate ten moves in advance; blindfolded, he plays dozens of games simultaneously; without hesitation, he recapitulates the main lines and variations of hundreds of games. Surely, these feats imply phenomenal memory capacity, prodigious reasoning ability and vast calculational power. Or do they? To the psychologist, this question represents a challenge and an opportunity. The challenge is to explain the amazing performance of the chess master in terms of the known properties, capacities and limitations of human thought. The opportunity is to discover new truths about the organization and content of human cognitive processes.

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Applied Cognitive Psychology, Vol. 4, 109-128 (1990)

Chess Expertise in Children
by Dianne D. Horgan and David Morgan
Memphis State University


This paper reports several studies of chess expertise in children who play competitive chess. The first study examines (1)  the relationship between experience and skill among 113 school age children (grades 1 through 12); and (2)  the relationship between chess skill and scores on various spatial and logical abilities tests among the top 15 players.  Improvement in skill is related to experience and chess players score higher than average on the Raven’s Progressive Matrices. Also, scores on a chess-specific test, the Knight’s Tour, correlate with scores on the Raven’s. The second study reports three experiments with 59 Ss involving chess-specific tasks in memory, perception, and similarity judgements. The first two experiments replicated and extended Chase and Simon (1973). The third experiment, which asked Ss to judge similarities of chess positions, demonstrated that similarity judgements become more global and abstract with increased skill. The final section describes qualitatively how children’s chess expertise compares to that of adults. Drawing upon Anderson (1985), we focus on some distinctive features of children’s chess play and on some successful techniques in coaching young players.

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Chess Improves Academic Performance – NYC Schools Chess Program

by Christine Palm

Chess has long been recognized throughout the world as a builder of strong intellects, but only recently has the United States begun to recognize chess’s ability to improve the cognitive abilities, rational thinking and reasoning of even the least promising children. Chess brings out latent abilities that have not been reached by traditional educational means. It promotes logical thinking, instills a sense of self-confidence and self-worth, improves communication and pattern recognition skills. It teaches the values of hard work, concentration, objectivity, and commitment.

As former World Chess Champion Emmanuel Lasker said, “On the chessboard lies and hypocrisy do not survive long.”

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Chess and Education

by John Artise

The game of chess makes one of the most important contributions to the field of education. Inherent in it are the basic principles of psychological learning theory: Memory, Pattern Recognition, Decision-making, and Reinforcement. All of these variables interact during a game of chess and produce the results of the human thought process: a win or a lose. Chess is a closed system. The number of possible moves and variations is finite, although this number is extremely large. Because of its being a closed system, the game can be analyzed and organized for study, just like music, or calculus, or a foreign language. Once the player has incorporated the rule schema (system of rules) for chess, everything he learns about the opening, middle-game, and end-game is based upon this rule system. If a player’s understanding of the rule schema is of a high level, then it is very likely that his learning progress will be very rapid. With the aforementioned as an introduction, I would like to discuss the contribution which chess does indeed make to education and learning.

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Chess and Education: A Bibliography

What follows is a rather extensive list of book and magazine articles generally relating to Chess and Education.

In doing research for this manual, I combed the files of five different library systems. I made use of the Inter Library Loan requests system as well. It is common in doing any kind of research work to accumulate much more material than you eventually end up using, so it was with this project. While I did utilize some of the material, much of it was either too esoteric for this project or simply irrelevant. However, it may not be irrelevant to you· Accordingly, I have arranged it into three loose categories to simplify your access to it.


The Scholastic category includes almost anything related to chess in the schools. Many of these articles are news stories or human-interest pieces showing how kids like to play chess. This section does have a lot of interesting photos which you might like to put up in your club room or paste in your club scrapbook.

The Psychology category contains a number of fascinating laboratory experiments relating to how the human brain works when trying to play chess and solve chess related problems. Much of the material requires at least some background in formal psychology, and much of it is of an esoteric nature considerably removed in focus from the design of this layman-oriented scholastic chess manual. A number of in-house clinical psychology theories are debated. Still, if you can get past the clinical terminology, many of you as teachers will find this material absorbing reading.

The General category contains articles which do not comfortably fit completely in either of the two previous categories. This section includes everything from chess slang to chess and politics.

Inside these three separate categories, I have arranged the articles alphabetically by SOURCE. I have included the article name, page number, volume and/or month, where listed, and the author’s name.

I have also included a brief review of the article, when one was available.

Reade the complete manual (PDF)


Dr. Robert Ferguson, Jr.
Executive Director American Chess School

Chess in Education Research Summary

This summary has drawn freely from several sources including Dr. Tim Redman’s Chess as Education: Character Assassination or Life of the Mind and Robert Ferguson’s doctoral dis­sertation. The following studies will be reviewed briefly in this paper.

  • Chess and Aptitudes by Albert Frank
  • Chess and Cognitive Development by Johan Christiaen
  • Developing Critical and Creative Thinking Through Chess by Robert Ferguson
  • Tri-State Area School Pilot Study by Robert Ferguson
  • The Development of Reasoning and Memory Through Chess by R. Ferguson
  • The Effect of Chess on Reading Scores by Stuart Margulies
  • Comparative Study of 5th Grade Math Curricula by Louise Gaudreau
  • Playing Chess: A Study of Problem-Solving Skills by Philip Rifner

Historically, chess has been used as a research tool by many psychologists. Alfred Binet, who in 1893 researched memory in blindfolded chessplayers, was one of the earliest psychologists to use chess to study memory (Hearst, p. 22, 1969). Freud was the first psychoanalyst to mention the game of chess, when in 1913 he stated the steps required to master chess were like learning the psychoanalytic techniques.

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Images of Chess in Detective Fiction
Franz Blaha and Marge Cathcart
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Chess, like no other game, has served authors of sophisticated and popular literature in manifold ways. A substantial number of writers admit to being chess players themselves and it is quite natural for these aficionados to include the game in their works, either as background material, as a means of characterization, as a structural device, or as metaphor. High-brow literature, indeed, has made extensive use of the game of chess, in one or more of the above-mentioned ways, as I am sure you will be informed of in another session, but I should still like to mention several prominent examples of the not-too-distant past.

One of the most sophisticated uses of the game as a structural device occurs in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass, where the playing card Kings and Queens of Alice in Wonderland made the transition to chess pieces and the knaves were replaced with knights. In addition, the asymetric arrangement of the pieces very neatly fits the mirror theme. While chess was played with human pieces on enormous fields in the Middle Ages and during the Renaissance (see Gargantua and Pantagruel, Book 5, chapters 24 and 25), Carroll was surely the first author to attempt to base a narrative on the movements of animated chess pieces.

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Accomplishment and Goals

A group of active chess players, and supporters of the chess world created and caused to pass through the State Legislature of New Jersey, a bill legitimizing chess as a unit of instruction within the elementary school curriculum. As a result of this activity:

  • Many school districts have enthusiastically begun basic programs of chess instruction.
  • Parents and community members have increased awareness of the benefits that chess involvement may offer their children.
  • The media is following the implementation of the legislation, and is interested in human-interest stories involving chess in the schools.
  • There is a network, of chess clubs connecting the New Jersey chess world that is cohesive and powerful.
  • Players have an increased awareness of one another, and awarerress of talent available for a wide range of activities. (Job network, tournaments, etc.)

The young players involved in the actual bill passage:

  • know that government can be moved
  • realize that they can personally effect change
  • can demonstrate the legal implications of their activity (Many wrote reports for school on their experiences with the legislation, and some interviewed people involved in the process.)
  • feel good about being a part of a positive movement, and
    about bringing chess into the schools

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Chess Makes Kids Smart

And, indeed, it really may. Read on.

My dad got me interested in chess about one or two vears ago,” seven-year-old Elian Leva­tino of Germantown, Tennessee, relates. “I started getting to be good at it, and now I’m teaching a younger friend of mine who is in kindergarten and some other people at my school. I also went back and taught my dad everything I know.”

Its not as big as Little League or ballet classes, but for many youngsters like Elian (who says he plays about ten games a day), chess is “neat,” “fun,” and “better than baseball.” And even non-chess-playing parents seem to like what happens when kids and chess are introduced.

Beckie and Rick Levatino, Elian’s parents, first bought him a chess set two years ago when he was five. “Elian was having some problems in his Montessori school,” Beckie relates. “I went to observe–they have the two­ way mirrors–and saw that he rushed through the math and language-arts activities, trying always to be the first one to finish. I had also noticed that at home Elian seemed to be fascinated by the game shows on television, where the contestants are frantic to beat the clock. I thought there might be some kind of connection.”

Beckie Levatino also observed that in another section of the school, some children were allowed to go into a hallway and play a quiet game–checkers. “It occurred to me that checkers might slow down Elian a little, and we tried it with him. He played for a couple of weeks and seemed to like it well enough. But it wasn’t until we bought the chess set and Rick showed him how to play that he changed his whole modus operandi.

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