The power to visualise

Today I will talk briefly about one of the benefits of chess for kids. I will call this the power or ability to visualise. It normally takes a while before a child can remember how all the pieces move. When a child is learning to play he becomes aware that if he plays certain moves, his pieces may be captured or endangered. The child sees this before he makes the move. Often he loses a lot of games before the rules of the game really stick. So before he moves a piece he tries to see what will happen to the piece that has moved. Will it be safe? Will it be fine?

For a child to answer these questions of safety for his pieces without moving the pieces means that he must build a picture in his mind. That picture is of the board where he has made the move. He needs to focus and be still. He stops fidgeting and thinks only of what is on the board. He is learning to concentrate. The visuals are coming in his head. Based on his analysis, as simple as it may be, he decides to consider playing another move or proceed with the one he has chosen. The power to visualise is developing. Initially it starts with very simple concepts. As the child develops in his play and goes from a beginner to intermediate his power to visualise also improves.

When he is given a problem outside chess, he had try and work it out in his mind, just as he would on the chessboard. When he is given some arithmetic, he works it out in his head, just as he would do on the chessboard. When the child says when I grow up, I want to be a doctor, he is visualising only this time several years ahead if not decades. He imagines himself just like his mother with her stethoscope around the neck, treating patients.

Bruce Mubayiwa

I am the founder and editor of Africa Chess Net. I have been playing chess for over 25 years and love writing about the game. Our goal is simple, to get more people playing chess in Africa! The game of chess is not only absorbing but a great deal of fun.

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