In the world of parenting, there is an ongoing debate about the effects of
computer games on our children. A number of studies have investigated the
matter. The conclusions show what most of us intuitively know: The computer
games definitely have some positive aspects, but spending too much time in front
of the screen can have detrimental consequences on the emotional development of
a child. The studies suggest that the time kids spend on the computer should be
monitored and limited.
Now, you might be wondering why are we mentioning computer games on a chess
website. Well, it would appear that the effects of the computer games for kids
are quite similar to the effects chess on computer has on our children. In many
aspects, chess on computer becomes as any another (strategy) game on
kid playing chess on computer
In the 21st century, chess has undergone revolutionary changes. The
development of strong computer engines and databases have had a major effect on
our ancient game.
• It has affected the way chess is played.
• But most importantly, it has affected the way chess is learned.
The main reason is the accessibility of information. Nowadays, chess engines
allow everyone to find out the objective chess truth about a certain move and
position. Chess databases allow us to quickly scan through millions of games and
opening lines. Never before was chess so approachable, especially to youngsters
and children. Alas, everything good comes with a price. Although computers bring
numerous benefits, there is also a number of downsides. In this article, we will
look at both pros and cons of computer chess for kids.
The Pros of Computer Chess for Kids
Allow us to start with the good aspects. As we have already pointed out –
spending time on the computer and being engaged with chess-related activities
has benefits for children.
Computers facilitate chess learning.
In the 21st century, chess on top of the world is dominated by youngsters.
Despite the efforts of players such as Kramnik or Anand, the vast majority of
the world’s top 100 is younger than 30. Also, the barrier to reaching chess
mastery keeps moving forward. The number and the strength of chess child
prodigies are increasing on a yearly basis.
Computer engines and databases are the main culprits. They have presented
youngsters with an opportunity to absorb a huge amount of information in a short
amount of time – something they are really good at.
与著名棋手Robert James Fischer相比，一名儿童只需点击几下鼠标就可以查询收集很多非常相似的数据。
Compared to Robert James Fischer, who had to plow through a dozen of books, a
modern kid merely has to click his mouse a couple of times to gain a very
similar amount of data.
Computer programs can trasnform chess into funny games.
One of the advantages of computers is the ability to turn anything into a
game. And the chessboard presents creative individuals with an abundance of
opportunities to create mini-games. For instance – collecting fruit on different
squares using solely your knight is a game derived from chess. Although not
exactly for the serious chess students, a different number of chess apps or
programs make learning and playing chess an accessible and fun activity.
Computers allow kids to play chess more frequently.
In the past, you had to find the time, the place and a suitable opponent to
play a chess game. That could take months. Nowadays, everything is much easier –
you log into your account and immediately find an opponent. And not just any
opponent, but the one suitable for your playing strength and preferred time
control (blitz, bullet, rapid, or classic).
However, online blitz can be as addicting as any other game on computer.
Playing blitz online will hardly improve your or your child’s chess. Fast
chess, without proper time to think, will make you repeat the same patterns over
and over. Vladimir Kramnik calls it “training for the hand”… Our definite
advice is to limit the time spent online for blitz chess games to a maximum of 2
hours a week. No more.
The Cons of Computer Chess for Kids
Computers don’t deepen your understanding
We have already written in the previous article about dangers and pitfalls of
computer chess engines. Let us emphasize the main point once again: Computers
don’t improve your understanding of the game because they don’t show you the
ideas in a certain position or opening line.
It is of crucial importance to read chess books, work with chess trainers
and, in general, use your own brain.
Grandmaster Package is like a collection of chess books with the support of
professional chess trainers! Every chess prodigy worked a lot using only the
board and the pieces and only started using the engines more intensively once
they reached a certain understanding.
For instance, during the Zalakaros 2016 open tournament, I played against
12-year-old talent Alex Krstulović, European U12 vice-champion. After the game,
he told me he has two trainers, one for middlegame and the other for the
endgame. Both trainers strictly forbade him to rely only on the engines.
Chess computers are terrible opponents.
If you ever played a computer game, you have surely realized how bad AI
sometimes is. Things are quite similar when it comes to chess engines. On lower
levels, most engines will play absurd and silly moves and you will beat them
quite easily. On higher levels, they are way too strong – getting mercilessly
crushed might affect your kid’s motivation to continue playing.
Human opponents are terrible humans.
Anyone who has ever played chess on internet should be aware of how rude
strangers can be. Chess is not an exception. Handling a defeat in chess can be
quite difficult and a number of people decide to vent their frustration in a
very uncivilized manner. It can leave a lasting mark on your children. Even
worse, they might accept it as a social norm and start doing the same.
Computer chess is antisocial.
For the development of the social skill set, it is important that children
spend the time around their peers. According to one study, kids who spent an
excessive amount of time playing computer games had lower social skills than
those who didn’t.
We could debate whether chess in real life is the most social activity. But
one thing is certain – it is definitely more social than computer chess, where
you don’t even see your opponent. Or where you move the pieces on virtual board
in the solitude of your room.
Spending too much time in front of the screen inhibits emotional
Tightly connected to the previous point – apart from hindering the
development of the social abilities, computers also inhibit the emotional
development of a child. One study demonstrated that kids who didn’t stare at the
screen for five days in a row were significantly better at reading human
A chess career can impact a normal childhood.
Finally, although computers offer your kids tremendous opportunities, it is
worth remembering that the price for a successful chess career might be the lack
of a normal childhood. Life of a chess player is very intense and boemic – it
involves constant travelling. It is hard to maintain friendships and normal life
when you are constantly traveling. Sure, if your child becomes a grandmaster, it
might pay off in the long run, but what if they don’t make it to the top?
Conclusion of using computers for chess
All in all, computer chess for kids has both positive and negative sides. It
is hard to say definitely whether the pros outweigh the cons or vice versa.
Probably the best rule of thumb to follow is the old golden mean principle. The
balance of controlling the technology, instead of letting the technology control
you, is the key. Banning your children from accessing the computer makes no
sense, but you also shouldn’t let things get out of control.
If your children spend a moderate amount of time „plugged in“, the pros will
be more pronounced than the cons. And that is probably true about anything
related to computer and technology. Not just computer chess.
by Vjekoslav Nemec and ICS admin on January 6, 2019
作者：Vjekoslav Nemec and ICS admin on January