Judith Bruner was the love of my life in second grade. Miss Bruner was a young, idealistic new teacher who played guitar. In 1968 she taught me how to play chess. I will never forget her for it. I was on our high school chess team and played a great deal during those years. Now I play chess when I get the chance; not so often anymore. A chess set goes on most of our camping trips and has filled many a rainy afternoon.
I’ve heard people scoff at chess as boring or dull. I guess they don’t play or just never learned how endlessly fascinating and beneficial the game can be. Developing a bit of skill at chess is not for the impatient or those who think being intelligent is effete. Without chess and it’s antecedents you’d have no video games or, for that matter, games of much level of strategic sophistication.
Baseball, football, basketball, just about any team sport one can name, bear similarities to chess. Players have specific roles, proscribed ways they can move and act on the field, some have pivotal roles, some are in supporting roles.
Chess is a martial game and some of the connotations and goals may not transfer comfortably to Scouting but the strategy, the ability to think ahead, adjust to changing situations, and to execute a plan lend themselves well to the study of leadership. Some will continue to see chess as an egg-headed, dweeby, pursuit. A look at the requirements for chess merit badge suggests some interesting opportunities to learn strategic thinking and group dynamics.
Admittedly chess is not a physically demanding activity, it’s not outdoor oriented, but it is great fun and can have more to do with Scouting than meets the eye.