PISD Chess Program


The Pasadena Independent School District’s chess program began in 2010 when the Gifted and Talented Department encouraged each High School, Intermediate School, and Middle School to form a chess club.   A total of 21 campuses formed chess clubs, which the GT department supported by providing training, materials, and other assistance.  In that same year, the district began holding tournaments in which students from all over the district could face off and determine which players were the best.  Two years later, the program added Elementary campuses, and since then, the number of chess clubs has steadily increased to 45 in the 2015-16 school year.  The number of students participating in district chess tournaments has increased from 20 in the fall of 2010 to over 300 in May 2016.

Why chess?  A large number of research studies have shown that regularly playing chess can provide students with multiple academic benefits, including strengthened problem solving skills, enhanced reading, memory, language, and mathematical abilities, improved critical, creative, and original thinking skills, and even better standardized test scores. In addition to these academic benefits, playing chess improves many other cognitive skills, including focusing, visualizing, thinking ahead, weighing options, analyzing concretely, thinking abstractly, planning, and juggling multiple considerations simultaneously. Chess serves as a bridge, bringing together children of different ages, races, and sexes in an activity they can all enjoy. Finally, chess teaches sportsmanship – how to win graciously and not give up when encountering defeat.