Champion Kasparov puts chess at heart of learning

Wed Jun 8, 2011 12:01pm EDT
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By Alysha Love

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Former world chess champion Garry Kasparov sees a hole in the European education system and he knows how to fix it -- one pawn at a time.

Aspiring to hone children's critical thinking, intellectual creativity and problem-solving skills, Kasparov, regarded by many as one of the game's greatest champions, believes chess has a lot to offer education and childhood development.

When it comes to encouraging children to do better in school, he believes chess can not only sharpen cognitive skills but also cut across socio-economic divides in a way that many competitive sports cannot.

"Chess goes beyond all borders. It doesn't have social borders or racial, even physically handicapped people can play," said the Russian, who was the world's top-ranked player for 20 years.

"So the element of the social integration and achievements based on your intellectual ability and your fighting spirit, that makes chess quite a unique element of the modern educational system."

In September, his non-profit Kasparov Chess Foundation Europe, dedicated to integrating chess into the education system, is set to present the EU with its plan for teaching chess to students ages 6 to 18.

Anticipating Brussels will recommend his program to members within 18 months, Kasparov said he hopes to implement the chess curriculum across all of the EU's 27 member states and beyond.

CHILD CHAMPIONS   Continued...

<p>Former chess world champion Garry Kasparov speaks during the launch of the Kasparov Chess Foundation Europe in Brussels June 8, 2011. REUTERS/Ezequiel Scagnetti</p>