Photo by Michał Parzuchowski on Unsplash
“Chess is in many ways like life itself.”
“It is all condensed in a playful manner in a game format. And it is extremely fascinating because first of all I’m in control of my own destiny. I’m in charge. You have to be responsible for your actions. You make a move, you had better think ahead about what’s going to happen, not after it happens because then it’s too late. Chess teaches discipline from a very early age. It teaches you to have a plan and to plan ahead. If you do that, you’ll be rewarded; if you break the rules, you will get punished in life and in chess. You need to learn the rules to break the rules.” – Susan Polgar, 4 time World Champion and founder of the Susan Polgar Foundation
Chess is an incredibly beneficial pastime because playing chess results in – better brain function, improved memory and cognitive abilities, strategic thinking and attention improvement. All of these benefits are directly related to the practice of chess, both in real-life and virtual environments, which means that chess is the answer to the question – ‘Is there a game where I can have fun AND get benefits from?’
Check out this video on the history of chess.
There are many benefits of playing chess, a few of the key ones are listed below:
- It strengthens problem-solving skills, planning skills and teaches how to make difficult and abstract decisions independently.
- It fosters critical, creative and original thinking.
- It teaches how to think logically and efficiently, learning to select the ‘best choice’ from a large number of options while inculcating discipline and time sense.
- It enhances reading, memory, language and mathematical abilities.
- Reaches out to Boys and Girls regardless of their natural abilities or socio-economic backgrounds.
- It improves the socializing and behavioral abilities in children. It teaches commitment.
- It inspires self-motivation and improves your patience, will power and concentration.
- It teaches children to rely on their own abilities and take responsibility for their own actions and how to win and lose in an acceptable manner.
- Chess teaches kids to follow rules while having fun.
- Chess does not require costly equipment to start out, it is meant for people of all ages and last but not the least; Chess is FUN.
Let’s look at some of those benefits in more detail
Better Brain Function: Chess is a tool which gives users a rigorous mental workout. Let’s look at a quick example. To get the most benefit from a physical workout, you need to exercise both the left and right sides of your body. Studies show that in order to play chess well, a player must develop and utilize his or her brain’s left hemisphere, which deals with object recognition, as well as the right hemisphere, which deals with pattern recognition. Over time, thanks to the rules and techniques involved in the game, playing chess will effectively exercise and develop not one but both sides of your brain. Scientists also claim that playing chess can improve mental age by up to 14 years. How’s that for a workout?
Improved Memory: Scientists say that chess helps keep Alzheimer’s disease at bay, which is directly related to the loss of memory. There are many tactics and strategies in chess and a good player should know most of them. But it is not the case of sitting and learning the tactics by heart. Over the course of many games, players develop an almost natural feeling of when to use a certain strategy or tactic. This is where the benefits of improved memory shine – players can quickly remember and use different strategies or tactics. The best part is that this benefit is not only limited to chess. Improved memory can be noticed in other areas of life such as academic performance, responsibilities, commitments, etc.
Improved Cognitive Abilities: Cognitive ability is a very broad term, it includes perception, motor, language, visual and spatial processing and executive functions. This is a big list and it covers almost everything that you do. For example, with the executive function, you can immediately recognize that the thing in front of you is square shaped and not round. While playing chess, EACH cognitive ability is stimulated because the game covers every part of our actions. So the next time you see chess players playing, think about the ‘exercise’ they’re going through.
Strategic Thinking: Chess is considered to be a strategy game – this means that in order to win, you must have a better plan of action than your opponent. Just like a general commands his army, a chess player commands his or her own pieces in a battle of black and white. So playing chess greatly improves the ability to develop certain strategies and plans. A good strategic mind is much more productive because it creates the best plan of action for every daily task. Also, strategic thinking is a life savior in academic and work environments, because everything is planned one step ahead and there’s always a plan B.
Attention Improvement: Chess DEMANDS attention, in other words, if your mind is not focused on the game – you lose, simple as that. With such an immediate punishment for lack of attention, the mind is trained to be focused and attentive. This results in better performance in schools and workplaces, less time wasted and more victories achieved.
Now that you know the truth about chess it should be more than enough motivation to go and learn the game!