I guess many parents will have this question in the mind – “Why Learn XiangQi?

There are many different games which equally is good for the mind.  We have chosen and recommend XiangQi to promote here in Singapore for the following reasons :

1. Singapore is a multi-racial nation

Singapore is a small nation with many nationalities and it is important we learn how to embrace various cultures and also promote the values of embracing a learning attitude towards other culture.  Currently, about 70% of Singapore’s population are ethnic Chinese and many of this population are taking Mandarin as their Mother tongue.  However, it has been found that due to the mainly English-speaking environment, many children are loosing their interest in Mandarin and also the Chinese culture.

The Chinese culture is an important culture for us to understand.  Currently, the population of Chinese is around 1.5 billion in the world and China’s is rising very fast in its influence in the world.  Even the Western world are showing great interest in Chinese language and also Chinese culture.  In Europe, XiangQi is gaining popularity as the Europeans are attracted to Eastern culture.

Singapore has always been seen as a great bridge by the Western world with China, thus it is critical that we uphold this reputation by continuously ensuring that our young people who are ethnically Chinese, have their roots secure and having the ability to communicate in the Chinese language plus having understanding of the Chinese culture.

2. Uniqueness of XiangQi

If we look at XiangQi and other games, we can see one distinct uniqueness is that unlike other games where the “playing field” is totally open or wide, XiangQi’s key area to protect is the 4 squares or 9 dots where the “General” resides and protected.  Singapore is a small little island nation, very similar to the small little nine squares confined area in XiangQi.  Thus learning about XiangQi builds up a National Defense mentality which is relevant to Singapore.  In XiangQi, there is also an attack element, and it is in this aspect that our young people can develop a mindset of how Singapore as a small nation can become an important influence globally.  This can be in the form of a “bridge or connector” in the various aspects of development – arts and culture, technology, business, etc.

3. Brain Development and Character Development

China’s Psychological Health 《中国健康心理学杂志》, 1994(2):72-74 conducted a research on Primary 3 students and found that students who are taught to play XiangQi shows the following characteristics :

– improved instantaneous memory
– visual acuity; visual sharpness
– ability to pay attention to detail
– improved the operational capacity
– improved overall level of intelligence of children

I guess this is quite obvious since we can see that in order to play XiangQi, the player needs to be in focus apart from understanding how the various seeds function. They also need to think ahead what their opponent might be thinking. This mental processing greatly enhances the player thinking skills an also ability to pay attention to details and operational capacity. With the various functions greatly enhanced, the player overall intelligence automatically also improves!

In countries like USA and UK and some parts of Europe, the Education Ministry saw the importance of brain development and also introduce a movement known as “Chess In School” where all students are required to learn Chess as part of learning, and teachers and principals have seen great improvement in their students both in behaviour and also academically.

I guess with mobile devices and digital games gaining its popularity, children are attracted to these and in many countries this phenomenon has resulted in many problems like games addiction and refusal to study.  Research have found that after children learn to build an interest in Chess through knowing how to play it, their temperament and attitude of resilience and responsibilities also improved.


To Learn from One’s Mistakes

A form of discipline that involves putting children and young adults through challenges and difficulties in order to develop their character. Not only should we learn from successes,we should also learn from our failures.

At some point in our lives, it is inevitable that we will be faced with failures and challenges. These challenges should not adversely affect a child’s development and thus should not be neglected as it is a good way of helping a child cope and learn from failures. Chess is one of the ways whereby the child can be faced with challenges and failures in other to improve his skills and mental ability. After losing a game the child can then review and learn from his mistakes and make it a habit to always reflect and learn from past mistakes. Such is a basic requirement of a chess player.

Through the repeated process of winning and losing games, the coach / teacher can help the child to shape his character and attitudes towards failures and success and guide them in the process of reflection and prepare them for further challenges ahead. Through reflection, one will be able to identify his area of inadequacy and his strengths and thus work on them. As the saying goes, “failure is the path to eventual success”. The best way of learning is from one’s own mistakes/failures.

Many a time the child would be initially afraid of failures but later on with guidance he will be able to take up the challenge and go for competition. Even if the results are not admirable, being able to accept defeat and express the hunger to improve is…… in summary chess can allow a child to see failure in a positive light and he their ability to reflect and react to their inadequacies.

Adversity Training

Can your child handle adversites?

Facing up to adversities and difficult situations is something that the younger generation lacks nowadays. This can be simulated in a chess game. Many times, a beginner in the initial stages of learning will lose pieces to his opponent during the game and thus feel disappoint. and discouraged.

These difficult situations teaches a child how to cope with the problem at hand and accept the challenge to find a solution. However, if a child lacks such an ability, then when faced with difficult situations, he will choose to avoid and give up halfway.

Children can become more adept at handling adversities through training and chess provides them with the opportunity to harness their ability to problem solve; it hones their ability to stay calm and analyse the situation; determination to focus and solve the difficult situation when faced with one.

Canada, New Brunswick Primary school started a chess education and it shows positive results in the problem solving ability of students increasing from 62% to 81%.

Independent Problem Solving

To develop independent thinking and problem solving ability.

Children being too dependent on adults/parents to help them solve problems are becoming a problem these days. Being over reliant on others to solve their problems will pose significant challenges to their growth and maturity.

Studies have shown that children who have undergone chess training tend to be able to develop independent problem solving skills and the habit to think and solve problems on their own. While playing chess, there are many opportunities for the child to be faced with problems that they will need to solve on their own without assistance from others. Thus the child will be given adequate training to analyze the situation, come out with a solution and make decisions on their own.

Because chess is a game that is played “one against one” the child will need to be self-reliant in his thinking and problem solving. This gives him the opportunity to demonstrate independent thinking and boost his confidence in his own ideas and have the opportunities to try, them out without influence from others.

Staying Focused

How to increase concentration skills through chess? Having a better ability to stay focused will allow the child to have better learning ability. On the other hand, one who is easily distracted will tend to have poorer performance as they progress. Chess is interesting because it has many variations which makes it important for both sides to have good concepts and foresight when competing against each other. During a game of chess, having the ability to remain focused throughout the whole game which could take place over a prolong period, is crucial.

This inevitably trains the child’s ability to concentrate and focus on the game of chess without being distracted by the environment or his surroundings. In a study by the University of Pennsylvania , USA (2011) 33 primary school kids underwent a 30 hours chess training program. They showed significant increase in their concentration ability and their school results also showed dramatic improvements.

Emotional Control

Allow your child to be in control of their emotions. Emotional quotient is the ability to control one’s emotions. A child with low EQ is often upset over small issues and tend to outwardly display their unhappiness through undesirable actions. Research has shown that students with poorer results tend to have lower EQ. Thus in order to help our kids develop good emotional control, it is best to start young. Chess is a good way to hone a child’s control over his emotions as it requires the child to stay calm and think logically. With the many ups and downs through the process of the game, the child has to adjust his mindset and keep his emotions in check in order to be able to continue thinking logically and focus on the game. In addition, those who are more impatient and easily frustrated will slowly realize that it is meaningless to express frustration and thus slowly get to learn how to manage their own emotions and cope with them.

Learn XiangQi Today!