Sunday, March 13, 2011

Is chess good for anything?

I love Ta-Nehisi Coates's "Talk to me like I'm stupid" blog feature, in which he asks his very large and civil readership to lecture him on areas that he's interested in but doesn't understand. The inability of people to admit that they lack knowledge and be open to education is a major problem in internet discourse, where bluffing and bullying your way into the winner's circle is all too prevalent.

That said, talk to me like I'm ten years old: What is chess good for? Does teaching your kid chess give them any skills that are useful in other endeavors? (For example, it's often said that learning music helps you learn math, and many sports develop strength and coordination that are generally beneficial.) If you spent your youth playing chess, are you better or worse off than if you devoted a similar amount of time to computer programming, bridge, billiards, or the trombone?

It's totally fine if chess is just for chess's sake; it's not like I'm opposed to impractical hobbies. But I was curious.
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