Chess is an iconic game. It's something that people play for fun, for competition, to test their brain power and even for relaxation. It's also a game that can be intimidating to those who have never played. In spite of that, it's a game that kids can learn—and excel at—at a young age.
Chess instructor Ed Scimia, who writes about chess for About.com, says that many kids can begin to grasp the rules of the game between the ages of four and six, but there's no definitive age. What matters more, he says, is maturity. "If you've started to introduce them to board games that are more complicated than Chutes and Ladders, chess is fine," says Scimia.
Playing chess fosters critical thinking skills, creative thinking and planning. It's also been said to help kids excel in school. Many studies have found benefits for students who play chess, including a 2000 study published in Research in the Schools that looked at black secondary students in southern, rural schools. The study found that those who played chess scored significantly higher in mathematics testing then their non-playing peers.
"You have to think ahead," says Scimia. "You have to think about what the other person might do. There is no luck. There are no random things that come along."