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-6.0 in third grade growing to -35.4 in eleventh grade. We could expect the same worsening problem in other areas. Eco- nomically disadvantaged students begin their education with poor “cultural cap- ital,” the subject of another university conference on chess and education held in Aberdeen, Scotland, a few years ago and covered in Chess Life. These stu- dents begin the game giving rook odds. Dr. Lipschultz believes that poverty

affects brain development in a potentially reversible way. The single most important new approach coming out of Kolty 2 has to do with the potential benefit of chess not on skill transfer but on improved “executive functions.” Inhibition, what we call self control, positively affects life success in areas such as health and wealth. To the extent that chess can improve metacognition, impulse control, planning, and restraint, it can be of great benefit to children. David MacEnulty’s talk on “Preparing

Children for Tournament Play” had noth- ing to do with openings, middlegames, or endgames and everything to do with psy- chological preparation. After regaling the audience with a number of horror stories from his experience as a coach—intimidat- ing behavior before the game and during the game, breaking rules, and other exam- ples of unethical behavior, not just on the part of the children playing, but also on the part of parents, coaches, and tournament directors—he explained how he prepared

his students to deal with these obstacles. David’s approach is to highlight the pri- macy of character in his preparation. Dr. Teresa Parr presented the most tan-

gible evidence of the promise contained in this new approach in her talk “Exploring the Malleability of Executive Control.” After touching on the problems with exist- ing research in chess and education, she narrowed her focus to exploring the ques- tion: How and why does chess have its impact? She and her colleagues have just received a million-dollar grant from the Department of Education to explore the impact of chess on beneficial character traits, grouped under the umbrella term “executive control.” These include habits promoted through chess such as metacog- nition (thinking about thinking), inhibition versus impulsivity (consider the “touch- move” rule), and immediate feedback on hypotheses tried over the board. Funding agencies don’t want to hear about chess, she advised, thus the indirect approach taken. Her work, aside from the promise of its research, inaugurates a new rhetor- ical basis for arguing for the benefits of chess, an approach advocated by Dr. Eber- hard five years ago. [See Dr. Root’s interview with Dr. Parr in this issue.] Of course, Fernando Moreno has been

saying this for some years now. He spoke about the perspective from counseling, and how he uses chess metaphors to help students make good life choices. Dmitry Schneider spoke about chess and finance

and specifically about how skills and char- acter formation acquired through chess transfer into the world of investment bank- ing. To remind us that Kolty 2 was an academic conference, not a cheerleading convention, University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) undergraduate Saheli Nath reported on “The Effects of Playing Chess on Self- esteem: A Case-Control Pilot Study.” Her project was funded through a scholar- award by the UTD Office of the Vice President for Research and it was super- vised by Dr. Alexey Root. The group studied consisted of forty college students ages 18-40 divided into chess players and non chess players (experimental and con- trol groups) and it concluded that there were no significant differences between the self-esteem scores of the two groups. Julie Blasingame disagreed, arguing that chess builds self-esteem. Returning to the increasing importance

of neuroscience in chess and education, three cognitive psychologists from the Uni- versity of Texas at Dallas, James Bartlett, Amy Boggan, and Daniel Krawczyk, spoke about their work. UTD Chess Program Director James Stallings approached Pro- fessor Krawczyk after hearing him talk about brain health and suggested that he use chess in his research. UTD has two centers, The Center for Brain Health and the Center for Vital Longevity whose research interests can coincide with inter- ests in chess and education. With an assist from IBM executive Rodney Thomas, the

Chess Life — February 2012 43

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