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Thursday, May 20, 2004

Check This Out, Mate 

Thursday, May 20, 2004 By Valerie Strauss The Washington Post
WASHINGTON--Fifth-graders Leeander Ragland and Steven Brooks sat facing each other during a class lesson at their District of Columbia school, fixated on their schoolwork. The assignment? Playing chess.
Whittier Elementary is one of hundreds, maybe thousands, of schools in the United States where chess is being taught to kids.
Teachers and students say chess teaches patience, concentration and how to follow rules. Players also learn that they must think ahead or risk losing badly. Kids say they like the game because there is no luck involved. No spinning dice. No picking cards. It's all about how well they plan moves.
``If you make a bad move, you suffer because your piece gets taken away. But if you make the right move you are happy,'' said Veronica Morris, 11. ``And that's the same thing in life. Because if you make the wrong move in life or open the wrong door then you suffer. But if you make the right move or open the right door and think before you do it, then you will be really happy.''
At Whittier, chess is taught once a week to the entire fifth grade. Teachers Harry Hughs, Sanjay Singh and Ruth Turay said they have seen math scores improve since the kids have started learning to play chess. And they said that some kids are behaving better in class since they took up chess. That's what Leeander said happened to him.
``I used to be bad in school,'' he said. ``When I started playing chess I started being obedient and quiet. Chess helped teach me how to do that.''
The chess instructor is Douglas Goralski, called Mr. G., who works with the nonprofit U.S. Chess Center in Washington. "

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