Monday, October 21, 2013
Special initiative for kids in Tasmania
Chess club goes from strength to strength
By Emily Bryan - October 21, 2013, 9:33 pm
A chess club for autistic and gifted children in Tasmania is moving ahead in leaps and bounds in its first year, with members tackling their first statewide tournament.
The Mind Moves chess club has grown from small beginnings last year to now have 30 members.
They stood out among a sea of school uniforms at the junior state titles in Launceston.
Every year 200 of Tasmania's best junior chess brains gather to compete against their peers.
Mostly there are from schools but organiser David Cordover says the tournament wants to be broader.
"We really want to support all kids across the state who are playing chess," he said.
Mind Moves is one of the biggest clubs in Australia for children.
The members qualified for the state finals by placing second in their regional competition.
Hundreds of studies suggest the game helps brain development, problem solving and creativity.
Launceston psychologist Charl Fourie says for children on the autism spectrum or with attention deficit disorder, there have been other benefits.
"There's no physical contact. The game has got certain boundaries, but also near infinite possibilities on the board," he said.
Player Liam Rose-Nel is feeling the benefits.
"It uses your knowledge to help you do maths and lots of that and it's also fun," he said.
There are also social benefits.
"You get to play with different people that you might have not known before," said player Vaila Brewer.
Away from the board, parents like Dawida Rose-Nel are noticing better concentration skills and school results.
"With autistic children, they don't understand that other people have got emotions," she said.
"In this game they realise that people do. We have different opinions, there's different approaches and they have to then make it part of their everyday life."
Club member Zack Brewer has enjoyed the challenge.
"There's some extremely tough players. I'm going reasonably well."
The club did not win this time, but fourth placing means an invitation to the nationals.