It might be just a game, but many scientific studies on chess suggest it has positive benefits for brain development in children.
Peter Dauvergne, an associate dean at the University of British Columbia and a Canadian chess master, conducted a study in 2000 about how chess can be used to develop children's minds.
The game fosters critical, creative and original thinking, he said.
"Chess is a fun, interactive and engaging way for children to do those things," he said.
Like taking an exam in school, playing chess forces one to make good decisions under pressure.
"The value of chess is that it is everchanging," Dauvergne said. "The kids are always facing multiple problems."
Barrington High School teacher and chess coach Jeff Doles said he sees numerous educational benefits to chess, including abstract reasoning, creative problem solving, pattern recognition and strategic planning.
"As a teacher, I believe chess develops mental abilities that students can utilize throughout their entire life," Doles said.
Dauvergne said some studies suggest chess can raise IQ scores in children as well as strengthen their math, language and reading skills.
To review Dauvergne's study and others about the benefits of chess, visit www.gardinerchess.com/publicationsbenefits/educational_benefits.htm.