Chess expertise in children



This paper reports several studies of chess expertise in children who play competitive chess. The first study examines (1) the relationship between experience and skill among 113 school-age children (grades 1 through 12); and (2) the relationship between chess skill and scores on various spatial and logical abilities tests among the top 15 players. Improvement in skill is related to experience, and chess players score higher than average on the Raven's Progressive Matrices. Also, scores on a chess-specific test, the Knight's Tour, correlate with scores on the Raven's. The second study reports three experiments with 59 Ss involving chess-specific tasks in memory, perception, and similarity judgements. The first two experiments replicated and extended Chase and Simon (1973). The third experiment, which asked Ss to judge similarities of chess positions, demonstrated that similarity judgements become more global and abstract with increased skill. The final section describes qualitatively how children's chess expertise compares to that of adults. Drawing upon Anderson (1985), we focus on some distinctive features of children's chess play and on some successful techniques in coaching young players.