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Old November 15th 07, 01:44 PM posted to,
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Default Praise what is good - Ken Sloan!

Ken I assume this is you? - if so - what a wonderful chess anecdote - I'm
publishing the whole letter this weekend.

A Beautiful Mind. This letter has a strange provenance - beginning in
Alabama, but forwarded to readers' attention from IGM Adorjan in Hungary.

(Ezt tök' véletlenül találtam a neten, elküldöm, hátha érdekel. A Chess
One-t kertestem, de egy másik lap jött helyette. sok puszi. Saci)


One Boy's Chess Story

My son is now 11. Diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder
(ADHD), he has had real social and behavioral difficulties since he was 18
months old, when we were asked to remove him from our church-based day-care.
Subsequently, he was thrown out of several day-care centers, a Montessori
school, and yet another private school. Since he is also gifted, his first
break came in the 2nd grade, when the school in which he was started
offering not only individual classes for kids like him (ADHD is considered a
handicap), but also specialized classes for gifted children.

Although his measured IQ is close to 150, his grades have never been
spectacular, in fact, they have always been an average mix of As, Bs, Cs and
even an occasional D. Highly variable from quarter to quarter, mostly
dependent on his level of interest in a subject. Behavioral problems
continued, notwithstanding a lot of help from the school system, from us,
from psychologists and psychiatrists and from medications (Ritalin and

I might add that he is an only child, and although both of us are working,
we are deeply caring, committed, spiritual, and have learned a lot about
ADHD. We are both professionals; in fact I am a psychologist, therefore
better prepared than most to understand and to know from where to seek help.

Things had become pretty bad at about age 9 and half. Nothing seemed to
work: time*outs, structure, behavioral management systems, medications

About 18 months ago, my son suddenly developed an interest in chess,
primarily because of a friend who just moved into town and who has been
teaching all his boys how to play. All his boys are a tad younger than ours.
Since our son has had many 'sudden' interests, only to be followed soon by a
total lack of interest in the same area, we just allowed events to take
their natural course, being supportive as always, and providing
opportunities whenever appropriate.

He stayed with it, learned some more-we got him some software, books, the
usual. A major change came about a year ago when I inquired about the
quality of electronic chess games. Mr. Sloan replied that there is no
substitute for face-to-face experiences and invited us to the Sunday quads
held at the university.

As they say, the rest is history. A few months after starting to play
publicly, our son came in second in the state scholastic chess championships
and recently only lost to the number one-ranked player in his age group in
the city championships. According to him, he lost concentration for a minute
and should have won that game too. We will see :-)

Anyway, today he is a straight A student and his behavioral problems are
minimal (but not trivial). He is enthusiastic about the friendships he has
made, spends time organizing himself (a difficult task for AHDH children),
is quite respectful, and has learned to control his temper by taking himself
out of the class and going to the library to play chess. His social skills
(quite atrocious until recently) have improved significantly. His language
skills have also improved noticeably. He does algebra in his head.

The reward system for appropriate performance and behavior? Time on or the Internet Chess Club.

Sorry: no control subjects, no double blind, no defined independent
variables (actually there are two: chess and age). Nonetheless, I think that
the great improvements we have seen are, to a large extent, due to chess.

Best, Andrew -- AJR, Alabama, USA

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Old November 15th 07, 07:48 PM posted to,
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First recorded activity by ChessBanter: May 2006
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Default Praise what is good - Ken Sloan!

Kelly, your daughter is so like my son! School work is so so - almost random
results for him- but in tests, if you were on Mars, and had a 'little
problem' this guy would be the one you wanted to be with - with any
completely unknown context, he would be completely un-fazed by that. He is
now an engineering student, who struggled through it, and will get his
degree this year, probably

I didn't tell all about this Aspergers person I spoke of before - first the
phenomenological fact that his permanennt minder was amazed that I didn't
need him at all!

And secondly, in the mentioned game - Colonization, he absolutely understood
how to play it [the game is based on the US 'colony'] - not going nutz on
the fur trade [which exhausts itself] nor exporting lumber, but sugar cane!
Better still if you can make Rum with it! Best not to do the conquest mode
as a Spaniard, since that is the strongest option, but short-lived. The
natives get you back, and conquest is all you can do! Best thing he said was
to invest in technologies, but before you can do that, you need general

To make this short - he completely amazed his own teacher by reciting the
socio-economic dynamics of the colonies at considerable complexity of
interaction, and then his principal since he knew more about it than she
admitted she did herself. ROFL [remember, he is age 10]

Good on Sid Meier for inventing this very innovative game, more a complex
simulator really.

We know so little about how we know things - this is all very good stuff,
neh? Now, chess too is interesting, and we hardly know that either - nor
what good it really does people, nor what it obviates, which is seldom
measured, except when kids cannot control their aggressions and we count
them only as prison statistics.

Cordially, Phil

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