Chess club provides a battle of the minds for young players

Chess master Jules Danson is hoping to switch young minds on to the wonders of the classic strategic board game.

She is running chess classes for young players of all levels – beginners to experienced – at the Old School Art Centre starting Friday, May 3 at 3.30pm – first class is free.

Passionate about chess, Jules started playing as a five-year-old, taught by her chess master father who also learnt the game when he was five.
He was an avid collector of chess boards and Jules fondly remembers numerous sets in her father’s collection, including a mermaid, three musketeers and ivory sets.

Originally from Dana Point, California, Jules moved to Raglan a year ago and says chess not only raises children’s IQ it has other far-reaching benefits for players in the popular battle of minds.

“Chess is good for emotional healing; it teaches children not to react but to take a breath and focus – it’s incredibly meditative.”

Described as weightlifting for the mind, chess increases the ability to memorize, calculate and plan. As well as teaching problem solving and patience, Jules says the game is also great for calming and focusing the mind.

“Chess moves are like dance steps; you get into a beautiful flow.”

A recent study at the University of Texas found children recruited from a chess camp improved in focusing attention and multi-tasking skills, suggesting chess instruction has the potential to improve the ‘building blocks’ of complex cognitive skills.

In the states, Jules says chess is taken very seriously and the best young players can win lucrative scholarships to colleges across the country.
She taught chess to thousands of students at the American after school programme Academic Chess where youngsters get one-to-one mentorship by some of the top chess masters in California.

Jules refined her chess skills under chess master Richard Kasa, a player of exceptional skills who could play blindfolded and repeat his moves backwards from the end of a game.
Chess dates back nearly 1500 years and is thought to have originated in India with a game called chaturanga. Chess players make up one of the largest communities in the world with over 600 million adults playing chess regularly.

For more information about Children’s Checkmate Chess Club contact Jules on 021 0813 0777 or

Janine Jackson