Using Chess To Teach Mathematics

More than one further education maths teacher has commented to me about how poor numeracy standards are among students they teach. And in many cases these kids have done maths at school and passed exams in the subject; in the UK we have GCSEs, which have become notorious for ever ‘improving’ results or perhaps deteriorating standards.

What’s the problem? Well it seems that attempts are being made to teach advanced mathematical concepts without laying down a thorough foundation of basic number work. It’s much the same as players wanting to play the openings of World Champions when they’re still overlooking knight forks. There’s a logical progression of ideas in both maths and chess which build on simpler concepts. So without a thorough mastery of early stages the edifice of ‘knowledge’ is built on feet of clay.

Can chess be used to teach maths? Well yes, I’ve seen applications of this, for example by Mr. Mason in the film Knights Of The South Bronx. And here’s another nice illustration from Youtube.

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About NigelD

Nigel Davies is an International Chess Grandmaster living in St. Helens in the UK. The winner of 15 international tournaments he is also a former British U21 and British Open Quickplay Champion and has represented both England and Wales on several occasions. These days Nigel teaches chess through his chess training web site, Tiger Chess, which has articles, recommendations, a monthly clinic, videos and courses. His students include his 15 year old son Sam who is making rapid progress with his game. Besides teaching chess, Nigel is a registered tai chi and qigong instructor and runs several weekly classes.