Northern Westchester Chinese School

Chess++ Class

Instructor: Ifay Chang, Ph.D.

Class Assistants: Jesseon Chang and Jerren Chang


Intoroduction of Chess++ Class


Northern Westchester Chinese School has a long history in providing an efficient and fun learning environment for children (and adults more recently) to learn the Chinese language. It has been recognized that learning Chinese language must be accompanied with Chinese art, culture, history, poetry, social studies and folk games to facilitate the young (and mature) minds to absorb not just the vocabularies and text of Chinese language but the inherited deep meanings an ancient language brings along from the past to the present. Hence, NWCS not only offers excellent language classes for learning both traditional and simplified Chinese languages but it also provides Chinese Calligraphy, Paintings, Kungfu, Chess Games and other art classes.   

This class is originally offered as a Chinese Chess class. Chinese Chess is one of the oldest folk games played and enjoyed by millions of people including famous scholars and wise men in the thousands of years of Chinese history. Today, with global communication so advanced, the Chinese Chess game has gained its international influence and established popularity beyond China. Many people now enjoy playing both the Chinese Chess and the Western Chess. As these players know, there are a lot of similarity in the basic game structure, rules and playing philosophy and yet they do reflect some key differences which may be influenced by the cultural evolutions behind the two games. This class has now included Western Chess in its syllabus for obviously good reasons. Learning and playing the two Chess games have opened an opportunity for the students to learn and appreciate the similarity and differences between the western and eastern culture.

Another Chinese board game, Wei Chi, which is popularized in Japan as the Go Game, is also included in the class content. The Wei Chi game can be learned from a very young age starting from simple games such as three, four and  five-in-a-row (before the children have learned the Chinese characters exhibited in Chinese Chess) to the highly sophisticated ultimate strategy game involving mathematic processing in the brains. All three games to be taught in this class are brain stimulation games. They challenge the brains to think, in terms of strategy, pattern recognition, logic reasoning, memory, focus and mathematic computation, and yet the games are fun to play.

As human gained more knowledge about how human brain works, it becomes apparent that human brains need to be stimulated to learn to increase its capability. You may have heard from a doctor saying (about brain): "You will lose it if you don't use it." In fact, human brain will keep on growing till about 20 years old to its maximum size containing 100 billion neurons. 100 billion is a huge number and how it is connected to store information and knowledge depends very much on its learning history. After 20 years of age, the brain goes through a slow decay process (neuron dies). Scientists have proven that brain stimulation in the young age will help the growth of the brain and in the mature or old age can slow down the brain decay. Hence many people believe games like chess, go, bridge, majong etc are really healthy games. It may not be too far fetched to say that play a chess game a day will keep the Alzheimer's away.  

Since this class has been offered at Northern Westchester Chinese School, the instructor has engaged more research in games that stimulates brains. He has also revisited a number of games which he has invented nearly two decades ago, one is called Braino Scrammble and the other is called Magic 100. The former is a English word game which can be played with Chinese Majong rules. The latter is a math game for learning and drilling math concepts. A lot of games invented each year ( for example, visit the annual American International Toy Fair ) are very stimulating and educational. The instructor will discover and introduce a number of games that he deemed "very good" to this class.           

Today, this class is called Chess++ class since it includes Chinese Chess, Western Chess, Go and other good games. A student can enroll and learn any one or all  games. The learning is through instructions, game playing and tournament playing. There is no age limit for the class, as young as five years old and as mature as grand pa or grand ma all welcome. Having young kids to play with parents and grand parents will be mutually stimulating and mutually beneficial.

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