There is a well-known claim in the world of chess that there are more possible moves on the game board than there are atoms in the observable universe.
It was an American man by the name of Claude Shannon that came up with the number of possibilities in chess, 10 to the power of 120 according to the publication The Chess Journal, and it is known around the globe as the Shannon Number.
Although, this number could possibly be debated, what cannot be debated are the lifelong skills gained by playing the game.
Lifelong skills that Dejan Radic knows all about and now the Maple Ridge resident has founded a chess academy in the community to share his passion with a new generation.
Radic has taken over operations of the Maple Ridge Chess Club after the retirement of Chris Dickson and decided to merge the club with the academy.
The club is for those who want to play casually and the academy will support the children and adults who are more serious about improving their play with formal lessons and instruction, said Radic.
Radic developed an entire chess program at Terry Fox Secondary School in Port Coquitlam that he heads. Initially, Radic developed one course, Chess 11, as a pilot project. Then he was asked to expand the course and he developed Chess 12. This September the school will be launching Chess 10.
“So it’s an entire program,” he explained, adding the most difficult part besides coming up with the curriculum was creating a way to be able to assess and evaluate the students.
“I know the kids take it to get better at chess,” noted the 48-year-old teacher.
“But, what they don’t know is you’re becoming little problem solvers and learning to plan and think critically, which, in my opinion, are invaluable skills to help them succeed in the game of life,” he said.
And, noted Radic, parents were also noticing improvements in their children who were taking the course – that they were becoming more mindful in their decisions, and planning ahead for their future.
Radic first took up the game more than two decades ago in Edmonton, where he grew up. He was introduced to chess by a teacher.
His game fell by the wayside until university when he picked it up again as a way to rehab from multiple concussions and trauma-related brain injuries from playing high-impact sports like hockey and wrestling.
“I just fell in love with the game and I realized that a lot of my symptoms from concussions went away. I was thinking clear, sharper than ever before, my memory improved, and I just noticed that my day-to-day functions were just improving. And I just owe it all to chess,” he said.
Radic has been playing competitively for about a decade.
“Now I teach chess with scented candles and jazz music playing in the background to high school kids. It’s unbelievable,” he commented.
Some children start playing as young as 5 years old, but generally, players will start at around six or seven, he said.
He noted that it is a great way to get children – and adults – off their smartphones, computers, or video game consoles and meet people in the community.
It teaches children confidence and social skills and how to manage their emotions, to “win with grace and lose with class”.
Radic is also fielding questions from older adults who want to learn how to play because they want to keep their brains active.
“Some people call it a game, some people call it a sport, some people call it a science, I call it an art,” said Radic.
The drop-in chess club plays at the Maple Ridge Public Library, 22470 Dewdney Trunk Rd., Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1-5 p.m. for seniors and on Thursdays again from 5-7:30 p.m. for adults and children.
Registration is open now for the chess academy that will begin following March Break. There are three membership options: a bronze package that offers play and practice; a silver package that offers lessons; and a gold package that combines the two – lessons and play and practice.
Classes will be held from 1-2 p.m. and casual play and practice from 2-3 p.m. on Saturdays at St. Andrews Heritage Church, 22279 116 Ave., Maple Ridge.
For more information go to mapleridgechess.ca.
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