YOUR MOVE: The effect of chess on mathematics test scores

ABSTRACT (US National Library of Medicine / National Institute of Health)
We analyse the effect of substituting a weekly mathematics lesson in primary school grades 1–3 with a lesson in mathematics based on chess instruction. We use data from the City of Aarhus in Denmark, combining test score data with a comprehensive data set obtained from administrative registers. We use two different methodological approaches to identify and estimate treatment effects and we tend to find positive effects, indicating that knowledge acquired through chess play can be transferred to the domain of mathematics. We also find larger impacts for unhappy children and children who are bored in school, perhaps because chess instruction facilitates learning by providing an alternative approach to mathematics for these children. The results are encouraging and suggest that chess may be an important and effective tool for improving mathematical capacity in young students.