(File photo) Garry Kasparov

Johannesburg - South Africa's educational system could be more successful if it invested in teaching pupils to play chess, Russian chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov said in Johannesburg on Thursday.

“Chess is a great educational tool... it helps kids to build universal skills, it is (about) mental discipline, it is logic and it is emotional control. When it is (taught) in school, it boosts attendance because it is fun,” he said at the Discovery Invest Leadership Summit.

“I saw the effects that chess had on every level of society, whether you do it in slums or in the most prestigious schools.”

The game boosted confidence, especially in children from underprivileged families.

He said the world's current educational model could not keep up with modern pupils, who he dubbed “iPad kids”.

“iPad kids do not see the teacher as the sole force of authority in the (class) room. Real time interaction (like chess) stimulates the mind and encourages participation.”

Analytical tools provided by chess could also be applied to politics.

“When people ask me about how my chess experience helps me design strategy to do battle with my colleagues in Russia, I tell them the difference between chess and politics in (President Vladimir) Putin's Russia, is that in chess we have fixed rules and unpredictable results,” Kasparov said.

“In Russia it is exactly the opposite.”

He said schools, businesses and politicians needed to take advantage of the opportunities provided by innovative ideas and technology to succeed.

“It's hard to believe that the entire computing power of Nasa in 1969, when Americans landed on the moon, is now the size of one iPhone,” Kasparov said.

“We have a choice, with this computing power... we can put a man on the moon and bring him back safely, or we can throw birds at pigs (like in the Angry Birds game).” - Sapa