Graham Jurgensen, the Executive Director of the Kasparov Chess Foundation-Africa (KCF-A), has emphasized that the game of chess is extremely effective to sharpen thinking patterns in minds of many.
On a working trip to the Rwandan capital, Kigali, Jurgensen stressed chess is an educational tool as it involves all aspects of critical thinking.
Jurgensen was in Kigali, Rwanda to officiate at the 2016 Rwanda Open tournament and visit schools where a pilot phase of a MiniChess programme funded by his organization is on track.
Chess also raises self-esteem, teaches determination, self-motivation and sportsmanship and can be enjoyed by children from all social backgrounds, ages, races and genders.
It demands children to take responsibility for their actions, and it improves problem-solving skills.
By playing chess, children develop or sharpen the ability to visualize patterns in their minds.
They create plans and focus their thoughts and energies.
Worldwide, more than 700 million people are estimated to play chess.
Jurgensen equated Chess to the game of football in popularity.
The World Chess Federation is actually the second largest sporting federation in the world in terms of the number of member federations. It is second only to FIFA!
The Kasparov Chess Foundation Africa is a public benefit organization which is based in Johannesburg, South Africa.
It focuses on promoting chess as a tool for education and social development across Africa.
This was the third regional chapter to be opened and we also have offices in New York, Brussels, Singapore and Mexico City.
The founder and chairman is the 13th World Chess Champion, Grandmaster Garry Kasparov.
MiniChess is very different from the game of Chess as a sport as it is actually an educational program.
It was developed in South Africa and has been very successful when used to teach entry phase learners which we define as children between the ages of five and nine years old.
Its’ big differentiator is that it does far more than simply teach children how to play chess.
Instead, its is focused on the development of basic concepts that form the foundation for development of math, critical thinking and life-skills in future years.
MiniChess is currently running at more than 250 African schools and is reaching in excess of 55,000 learners per week.
There running active programs in South Africa, Rwanda, Madagascar, Lesotho and Uganda. Kenya also recently launched operations and it is expected to add at least another five countries this year (2016).
Additional extracts by James Karuhanga