New Children’s Math Aid


Richard Wagner Finds a Fresh, Young Audience in a New Children’s Math Aid

by Brad Donaldson

The land of educational toys may be changing. A new Harvard/MIT endorsed math educational learning aid called Yamie Chess, that interactively features a nineteenth century European grandmaster chess game, is using the prelude to Richard Wagner’s Parsifal movement to introduce kids to their science-fiction fantasy.

“What makes this unique is that the book offers several things at the same time: The storyline gives us a beautifully drawn, deeply conceived, emotionally compelling fantasy adventure. To progress, you will discover that you’re effortlessly learning how the chess pieces move (the adventure begins in earnest after you learn chess basics), and your newfound knowledge of chess will seamlessly blend into math lessons, physics, and moral imperatives.” 

Extract from International Master Jeremy Silman’s review of Yamie Chess (Read full review at :

The Yamie Chess story revolves around an American boy genius from New York City, whose mind wakes up, under anesthetic, in a dream world where all the cartoon characters are the chess pieces on the board. Yamie Chess is set to teach kids the mathematical logic underlying classic chess, aligned to the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Curriculum Focal Points in algebra, geometry, data analysis, number logic and measurement. Yamie Chess launches at the American International Toy Fair 2014 in New York in a couple of months time.

It’s not often that a children’s math learning aid is designed by MIT, Caltech and Stanford engineers, and advertises itself using a lullaby themed to classical music. And, even more rare, to find one that teaches kids classic chess, Rene Descartes’s metaphysical dualism philosophy, mathematical theory and at the same time, seeks to get the many kids who are math phobic about numbers, not just love to math — but to start modelling math earlier in school before college.

But that’s what Yamie Chess is offering. As Jeremy Silman, the American chess champion who created the chess scene in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone explains on his above website, Yamie Chess is a compelling fantasy adventure.

I’ll leave it to the scholars on Chomskyan linguistics to examine Yamie Chess further, probably taking this into a discussion of formal semantics, Frege’s principle of compositionality and what it means, philosophically speaking, to be awake– but for the easy listener, how Yamie Chess has linked in their “The Mind Kingdom lullaby” for young learners, the deeper meaning of Wagner’s haunting prelude with an original sci-fi fantasy about mind and consciousness, is something quite compelling to behold. Turn the volume up and listen to it here:

Reading the interesting written review of University of Chicago mathematics PhD, Professor Ashley Ahlin (, who play tested Yamie Chess with her children, it’s not surprising to learn that the product, designed by top U.S. post-graduate math educators, was advised by a 2-time United States chess champion, Jennifer Shahade.

The cues here for the music theorist are substantial. Yamie Chess visuospatially teaches math and classic chess through cartoons, akin to how “children learned syntax as toddlers” as the Yamie Chess website explains, and for any parents reading this, their parents/grandparents’ FAQ section is definitely worth a look:

Based in Nevada, the company behind this exciting new math aid, Yamie Chess Ltd, has committed to manufacture the product in America, and intends to do an animated series addressing key math and science learning skills for kids over the coming years.

In 2013, Yamie Chess won the Canada International Film Festival’s Royal Reel Award in animation for a cel animation called King Tigermore in Strawberry Fields, in which they synchronized Mozart’s Symphony No 25 in G Minor to hand drawn animated line art.

Further reading:

The Mind Kingdom Lullaby:

Yamie Chess K-8 Teacher’s Guide




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