Chess for Life

Post by Anne, Information Services staff.

Chess is one of the oldest games in the world and has had a recent swing in popularity, but did you know that Chess can teach you strategies, one move at a time, to succeed in life? 

Toronto’s own Chess Institute of Canada founder Ted Winick, made “Bringing Chess to Life” his organization’s mission. I had the privilege of talking with Ted during an annual pre-covid Chess Fest at Harbour Front in Toronto in 2019. He said,  

“If I told you this is a tutoring program which will significantly improve your child’s reading, math, logic and problem-solving skills, focus an ADD kid, humble a braggart, boost the self-esteem and confidence of a shy child, and teach the real-world skills of learning from mistakes, thinking before acting, and showing consideration for others—and your child will love this course and see it as fun—you would agree it is magic.”  

Ted Winick, Chess Institute of Canada Talk

Chess is for everyone! Chess Fest and other outdoor celebrations introduce children and people of all ages to chess with the large life-sized pieces like the ones here:

A large sized chess board on the grass in the middle of a city. A person dressed as an Easter bunny is picking up the knight piece.

The Queen’s Gambit 

Recently, chess has made a resurgence due to inspiring stories like the Netflix series “The Queen’s Gambit.” More importantly, the main character is a woman in what has been historically a male dominated sport.  

While the series is not a true story, it is based on a book. Orphan Beth Harmon overcomes the odds in Walter Tevis’ same named 2003 novel “The Queen’s Gambit”. Borrow the novel from the KPL collection and read her inspiring story.  

The Queen of Katwe 

On the other side of the world, Phiona Mutesi beat the odds and succeeded in chess and in her real life. Phiona is the real Queen of Katwe. She was was a protégé of  Robert Katende, whose vision is to change underprivileged lives (of people in Uganda) through chess, one move at a time.

American Grandmaster

American Grandmaster Susan Polgar can relate to the struggles of both fictional Beth Harmon and the real life Phonia Mutsei. Especially when it comes to playing against male chess players. One of her famous quotes is:  

“When men lose against me, they always have a headache … or things of that kind. I have never beaten a completely healthy man!”

Susan Polgar

Girl Boss Chess

Girl Boss Chess is a new and inspiring online chess collective, founded by Ingrid Gayle of Gananoque, Ontario. They are “a global collective of ambitious women on a mission to empower girls through the game of chess”. Ingrid says:

“Above all, chess helps girls understand who they are and the strengths that are inherent in all women. That’s really powerful. That can change the course of your life.” 

Ingrid Gayle, Founder of Girl Boss Chess

More Chess

  • Critical Thinking| Critical Thinking is the story of a Florida Chess Teacher and his team of inner-city kids who discover chess can be a great equalizer in life. The movie stars John Leguizamo | DVD.
  • How Life Imitates Chess: Making the Right Moves from the Board to the Boardroom | Garry Kasparov | Garry was the highest-rated chess player in the world for over 20 years. The book is part memoir, part strategy. 
  • A Little Game: Believe You Can Win | A chess-master uses the game to teach Max lessons in resilience, perseverance, and how to embrace inevitable change  | DVD
  • My Name is Tani…And I Believe in Miracles | The amazing true story of one boy’s journey from refugee to chess champion | Audiobook CD or print 
  • Chess for Beginners | Everything you need to know to get started with the game of chess | Magazine
  • Chess: From First Moves to Checkmate | Improve your game with clear illustrations and practice puzzles | Print

Have questions? Want more recommendations?  

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