Nigeria as a country in West Africa, has numerous International Masters (IMs), FIDE Masters (FMs), Candidate Masters(CMs) and a bunch of talented chess players with good playing skills. Therefore, it’s not very pleasing to know that the entire West Africa cannot boast of a single chess grandmaster despite the abundance of chess talents. This and many more are reasons why Africans should indulge themselves in playing chess as chess is not only a basic explanation of life and its activities but it also improves us psychologically, emotionally, educationally, logically and even financially.
Firstly, chess develops the memory and improves critical thinking. The chess theory is complex – making many players memorize different openings (for white pieces) and defenses (for the black pieces) with a lot of variations. You will also learn to recognize various patterns and remember lengthy variations. Just like computers, they engage in a search for the better move in a limited amount of time. When playing chess, your brain will be challenged to exercise logic, develop pattern-recognition, make decisions both visually and analytically and test your memory. Chess could develop logical thinking of Africans making them able to compete globally in terms of innovative ideas as it requires some level of logical strategy.
Secondly, it has been found to be an awesome educational tool for schools and is readily applied in many countries in Europe, America and even Asia. Before, during, and after-school programs are extremely popular and for good reasons. Chess is a low-cost activity for children to become involved with right at their own schools in Africa. Children of different ages, backgrounds, and special needs can all take part in a chess class or club. If students have trouble sitting down to study and are easily distracted, chess could become a go-to solution. Playing Chess is a fun method of drastically improving your levels of concentration, and if you play regularly, you never have to worry about losing focus doing important tasks, especially studying for exams. In contrast with other physical activities like football, chess also has zero risk of physical injuries.
Thirdly, chess develops imagination and creativity as it encourages one to be inventive. There is an indefinite amount of beautiful combinations yet to be constructed. It is a game for all ages as it encourages creativity in both children and adults with studies proving this too. Chess is a game that requires strategy; defensive strategy and attacking strategy which needs the combination of your creative and imaginative skills. As Nigeria as a country has fallen behind both on the chess map but on the world map (in terms if research and innovative ideas), chess would wake up the artist within us. While our imaginations run wild with endless possibilities on the 64 squares, so also would we be able to tap into the endless possibilities around us as the giant of Africa.
Fourthly, chess would undoubtedly improve Africans (including top leaders) decision-making and calculative skills because, it helps one to think ahead, weighing the pros and cons of certain choices before making decisions. It would also improve Africans’ multi-tasking skills thereby increasing effectiveness and productivity.
Fifthly, chess teaches us independence thereby improving our problem-solving skills. In chess, one is forced to make important decisions such as sacrificing the Queen (most powerful piece) for a winning position while being influenced by one’s own judgement. Same way, Africans with the love of chess would be taught independent decision-making thereby improving their problem-solving skills and consequently, the general African economy. In every chess game you play, you are faced with challenges and problems that you have to solve in order to play your best game. This correlates with challenges we face in everyday life and just as in chess, we try to make the best choices to develop positive outcomes for our lives. Now chess by design requires you to think ahead as the game progresses and adapt to your opponent’s moves (such as the global pandemic ravaging the world and crumbling big economies) as they are made. This alone encourages active problem-solving skills and develops the ability to make solid decisions on the go.
Sixthly, chess shows that success rewards hard work and thus, the more you practise, the better you’ll become. Africans should be ready to lose and learn importantly from their loses. Chess inspires self-motivation and intense focus as a chess player can make moves like a grandmaster for 30 moves and then get distracted on move 31 and make an elementary blunder that loses the game! This intense focus is useful in everyday life of Africans when confronted with school assignments, daily tasks, and deadlines. It encourages the search of the best move, the best plan, the most beautiful continuation out of the endless possibilities. It encourages the everlasting aim towards progress, always steering to ignite the flame of victory.
Lastly, the end of the search for Nigeria’s first Chess Grandmaster (GM). The title of becoming Nigeria’s first chess Grandmaster is still vacant and is surprisingly up for grabs as at the time of this article. It took Viswanathan Anand to achieve this for India and now they boast of over 65 chess Grandmasters. All it requires would be dedication, studying, training and lots more. This goal once achieved would put Nigeria on the global map. The wait is still on !