P.A. restaurant opens doors to chess players

Hundreds of studies exist on chess and the effect the game has on the human psyche.

Michael Lenox, owner of The Salad Station in Port Angeles and a recreational chess player, stands by the belief that "chess makes people smarter" and is opening up his restaurant to chess players in the community on Tuesday evenings. All ages and experience levels are welcome.

Studies have shown that chess players have a significant advancement in spatial, numerical and administrative-directional abilities, along with verbal aptitudes, compared to nonplayers. The improvements held true regardless of skill level.

Lenox said he hopes youths and seniors from the Sequim area will drive the distance to participate.

David Gladwin, a self-proclaimed "chess expert," teaches people how to play the game during the game nights.

"I've always loved teaching. I majored in graphic art but have a knack for teaching," Gladwin said. "I'm a self-taught player and know from experience how hard it is to learn from books. But I can teach (people) in minutes what would take hours to learn themselves."

Chess is a game of strategy.

"It's one of those games you can learn to play in a day but takes a lifetime to master," Lenox said. "My brother taught me how to play. He's never beaten me though. He's not a very good player," he joked.

Sharie Ramsey, a Port Angeles mother who homeschools her children, said she has noticed definite improvements in her 11-year-old twin daughters since teaching them to play chess and she recommends the game as a learning tool.

"Chess improves reading comprehension, organization and spatial and math skills," she said. "Studies all across the world have shown that playing chess improves academic performance and I've seen it firsthand."

Playing chess gives school-age children a positive outlet for their time or energy, Ramsey continued. "Kids are going to be involved in something and chess is better than drinking or smoking or running around town."

Playing chess helps children and adults learn how to become "good losers," according to Scott Burgett, a Port Angeles resident who played chess as a child and young adult and is rediscovering the hobby.

"Chess helps people focus, think logically and strategize," he said. "It helps you learn how to lose and that's important because in order to learn you have to lose sometimes. Plus, it's a great alternative to video games because it's physical versus virtual."

Chess is considered a universal language, Ramsey added while nodding in agreement with Burgett. "The three universal languages in the world are music, math and chess," she said. "If you know those languages, you are multilingual."

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