A one-of-a-kind initiative to establish a ‘Grandmaster Chess Research Project’ is taking shape at Israel’s University of Haifa in collaboration with vice world chess champion Grandmaster Boris Gelfand. The program is set to develop a novel academic approach to the skills and culture of chess-playing that can in turn contribute to social and scientific development.
The program will include research on the correlation between chess and cognitive enhancement; develop the first Hebrew-language educational software program for teaching chess in schools and kindergartens; and establish an international program for training chess instructors and coaches.
“This initiative is introducing chess and the disciplines involved in the game’s development into the academic world as never before,” says Vice President and Dean of Research Prof. Michal Yerushalmy. “Through advanced studies in the University’s Department of Computer Sciences and other innovative facilities and with the ongoing guidance of Grandmaster Boris Gelfand, the program will provide an opportunity to achieve breakthrough research and social outreach in a field that has not yet been fully explored,” she explains. “The University of Haifa is home to some of the best minds in cognitive and developmental research and is well positioned to examine the impact of chess on students’ math skills, language acquisition, and other skills.”
At a festive reception with Grandmaster Gelfand – winner of the 2009 World Cup and of the 2011 Candidates’ Matches – University of Haifa Vice President for External Relations Amos Gaver congratulated him on his accomplishment in the 2012 World Championships and for the pride that he brings Israel. Along with Prof. Yerushalmy and University of Haifa researcher and chess software developer Shay Bushinsky, Amos Gaver presented the new chess research initiative to the grandmaster.
“I am honored that the University of Haifa has decided to develop studies connected to chess and I do believe that through these studies we can help children and people of all ages develop their interest and play chess. I am sure this will make our society better – I know people leading in intellectual professionals who succeeded thanks to their playing chess in school and continued playing alongside their professional development,” said Gelfand.
The University of Haifa’s Grandmaster Chess Research Program will initiate and take part in multiplatform collaborations with international experts and grandmasters to explore the multidisciplinary aspects of chess (such as the scientific, cognitive, political, cultural and historic); will work to promote the inclusion of chess in school curricula; and will develop the first comprehensive educational software program in Hebrew for chess instruction.
Photo: (L-R) Rosa Leikin, Head of the Interdisciplinary Center for Research and Advancement of Excellence and Giftedness; VP and Dean of Research Prof. Michal Yerushalmy; Grandmaster Boris Gelfand; Maya Gelfand; Shay Bushinsky; Adv. Doron Schweppe, Legal Advisor