Play Together, Have Fun Together – Part 1

Matthias Schmitt

We recently talked to one of our partners from Schachclub Vaterstetten-Grasbrunn and co-organizer of the Chessimo Chess Cups. An interesting conversation about his love for chess, the game’s benefits for young people and an unusual concept for tournaments, part one:

Mr. Schmitt, to start off with, a question that is almost obligatory: how did you come to play chess?

I’ve got to admit that I really was a late bloomer in that regard. Even though I had already been curious as a child and  had tried to teach myself to play chess with a manual from a collection of board games, I had failed in this endeavor and subsequently lost interest. When my daughter discovered her own love for chess five years ago, she kept improving her skills at a local community college (in a class that was taught by a member of the Vaterstetten-Grasbrunn chess club, by the way) and then pushed me to get back into it. We spent a lot of time together during that period and I turned from an eager player into a huge fan of the game. That is mostly due to the remarkable and positive developments that can be seen in children who play chess – not just for school, but for life in general.

The crucial effect that I have noticed not just with my daughter, but other children as well, is that their level of concentration in school is much higher. Thanks to this concentration, they absorb the subject matter immediately and can cut the time needed for homework in half. More time for more pleasurable things is an added bonus, of course. I can tell you about children whose performance in school became much better when they started playing chess. This was also confirmed by a study that was conducted at Trier-Olewig elementary school.

What other positive impacts can be seen in children and youths who play chess?

Longer games improve the ability to concentrate as well. They teach children how to focus on one thing for hours on end. Self-esteem also plays a big role, especially for the girls. What could possibly be better at this age than beating the boys? (laughs)

The positive social aspect that players solidify by taking part in classes or tournaments should not be ignored either. Children play against adults with the same skill-level in our club and that teaches them how to get along with people of all ages and heritage. Competing in events like the Bavarian Championship, team competitions or a chess summer camp builds a strong sense of community and positive relationships. That’s something that many people have lost sight of: chess is often a team sport!

Does the Vaterstetten-Grasbrunn chess club specifically foster children and youths?

Exactly! That’s why our club is one of the few to have a paid volunteer who teaches chess in local schools. The costs are completely covered by the club, since we’re convinced that anyone who’s interested in the game should have the chance to join a workshop.

That’s also why children can join our club for only 9€ per year. We thereby make sure that anybody can afford a membership, no matter their financial background. That fee does not only cover regular events and training, but we also pay their starting fee for external competitions.