CSC Encourages Chess Research

CSC encourages research into chess and is keen to provide support where possible. If you are carrying out research into the effects of learning and playing chess, or are considering doing so, we would very much like to hear from you and we will be more than happy to consider whether we can help.


Giovanni Sala discusses the current state of chess and education research - from the London Chess Conference, Dec 2016.





State of the Art and Theoretical Challenges

A short summary of current thinking and directions for future study on chess as an educational intervention. Meta-analyses have shown a positive short-term impact on mathematics performance, but no causal model has been established and more studies with adequate control for placebo effects are needed. Read more here.


Literature Review of Chess Studies


This independent review of research literature on chess as an educational intervention was commissioned by the Chess Club & Scholastic Center of Saint Louis. Of 51 academic studies, 24 were judged eligible for inclusion in a meta-analysis, which found statistically significant benefits to mathematical and cognitive abilities. However, results must be interpreted with caution in light of the limited pool of eligible research.


Download or view the 38-page review in PDF


Do the benefits of chess transfer to academic and cognitive skills?


A 2016 meta-analysis of 24 studies on educational chess. It found that chess can have a significant impact on mathematical ability, but only if the intervention is of approximately 25 hours or more. Studies with optimal design, including 'active' control groups, are still needed.


Download or view the 12-page document in PDF


Institute of Education's final report

In 2013 the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) selected CSC for a research grant in partnership with the Institute of Education. The project investigated the impact of class-time chess lessons on Key Stage 2 exam results in almost 100 schools; 43 received the CSC programme in 2013-14, and 49 were in the control group, which later also received free lessons. Report author John Jerrim speaks at the 2016 London Chess Conference.


The Institute of Education's final report was published in 2016 and can be found here.



Recommended Research


  • A Three-Group Design to Control for Placebo Effects - This 2016 study of 52 primary-school children in Italy tackles the field's main methodological flaw by using Go lessons as a placebo group. It found that chess had greater mathematical benefit than the Placebo, having similar impact to conventional lessons, but no group showed any improvement in cognitive skills. However, the study is hindered by its small sample size.


  • Susan Sallon explores the impact of chess on children's cognitive development - An investigation of the impact of the CSC programme on 201 Year 3 children relative to a 282-strong control group. The research found statistically significant gains in numeracy, spatial awareness, logical deduction and problem-solving, although the study is an unpublished dissertation and yet to be peer-reviewed.



  • Chess at Trier-Olewig Primary School - This work considers the effect of four years of chess lessons in Germany. The test school's results in cognitive and behaviour assessments were significantly better than a control school with similar demographics, but the schools were not randomly allocated to test and control groups.


  • Efficacy of chess training for the treatment of ADHD - The winning entry to the 2015 London Chess Conference boot camp. Parental assessments of ADHD sufferers, using the SNAP-IV and CPRS-HI scales, found statistically significant improvements after an 11-week chess course. This is a pilot study; the field awaits future research with randomisation and a control group. View or download the report in PDF.



Also of Interest



After-school clubs 'boost poorer pupils' results'

17 March 2016 | By Katherine Sellgren Education reporter


After-school clubs were shown to close the gap between rich

and poor


Research from the Centre for Longitudinal Studies at UCL has found that participation in after-school activities can boost the academic performance and social skills of disadvantaged children.


Attendance at after-school clubs led to Key Stage 2 results significantly better than expected among children from disadvantaged backgrounds, suggesting that they may help bridge the attainment gap to other children, the authors concluded.


You can read the full study in full here


BBC News report




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