Armenian grandmaster Levon Aronian has won a prestigious tournament held in Paris/St. Petersburg (France/Russia) in memory of the great chess champion Alexander Alekhine. In a separate development international chess’s governing body, FIDE, released the latest ratings of the world’s top players, ranking Aronian second (2813), just behind Norway’s Magnus Carlsen (2868) and ahead of Russia’s Vladimir Kramnik (2811).
Chess is huge in Armenia and Levon Aronian a national superstar. In September 2011, Armenia made chess a required subject for all children over the age of six. One recent psychological study found that chess was associated with greater “cognitive abilities, coping and problem-solving capacity, and even socio-affective development of children.” Armenian teachers insist: “Chess trains logical thinking. It teaches how to make decisions, trains memory, strengthens will power, motivates children to win, and teaches them how to deal with defeat. It’s the only school subject that can do all of this.” That is a very interesting insight. Not only does chess help train the brain, but it also teaches children basic life skills. Such schools are teaching children reality: Sometimes you lose. That’s an important lesson, and it should be taught at a young age.
What makes chess so fascinating is that no two games will ever play out the same. Checkers has 500 billion billion possible positions, and, in 2007, researchers reported that a computer has solved the game. (If neither side makes a mistake, the outcome is always a draw.) But chess is far more complicated than checkers. It is unlikely that a computer will ever “solve” the game.