The Benefits of Chess
The ancient game dating back to the sixth century has enlightened great minds for ages. Chess, played by people of all backgrounds, has evolved tremendously throughout its rich history. From a game that can be played for pleasure and for brain gains, chess has endless possibilities.There are more than 10^120 estimated unique possible chess games, greater than the estimated number of electrons in the universe. The second book ever printed in English was about chess. In the modern age, chess has been put under the scientific microscope in numerous studies that have revealed the underlying benefits of playing chess. Here are just a few of them:
1. Brain Power
Chess is a strategic game that requires immense brain capacity. Just as a physical workout strengthens your muscles, a game of chess serves as a mental stimulant that develops brain capacity. Even more, chess develops both sides of your brain, requiring object recognition from the left hemisphere and pattern recognition from the right hemisphere. Scientists claim that playing chess can improve mental age by up to 14 years!
2. Enhanced Critical Thinking and Problem Solving Skills
Each move stretches the brain, improving perception, motor, language, visual and spatial processing, and executive functions. Each cognitive ability is stimulated because the game covers every part of our actions. A child who is introduced to chess at a young age is likely to do better in school for years to come. Research shows that playing chess improves a child's thinking, problem solving, reading, and math scores. Educators and chess experts generally agree that second grade is the ideal time to introduce children to chess, although some as young as four or five may be ready to play. A study of 4000 Venezuelan students produced significant rises in the IQ scores of both boys and girls after 4 months of chess instruction. Talk about exercise for the brain!
3. Creativity Explosion
The right hemisphere of the brain is responsible for creativity. Chess activates the right side and increases originality. One four-year study had students from grades 7 to 8 play chess, use computers, or do other activities once a week for 32 weeks to see which activity fostered the most growth in creative thinking. The chess group scored higher in all measures of creativity. When playing chess, you have learn to consider, analyze, and prioritize a wide variety of possibilities. The brain naturally enhances the development of creativity over time.
4. Boosted Memory
Studies have shown that chess reduces the chances of obtaining Alzheimer's disease, which is directly related to the loss of memory. Players learn to develop a natural intuition of when to apply certain strategies or tactics. Of course, the utilization memory is not limited to just chess; it can be applied to countless other aspects of life such as academics, responsibilities, commitments, etc... Being a good player means remembering how your opponent has played in the past and recalling moves. In a two-year study in 1985, young students who were given regular opportunities to play chess improved their grades in all subjects, and their teachers noticed better memory and better organizational skills in the kids.
5. Increased Strategic Thinking and Planning/Foresight
In order to win a game of chess, 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, creating a plan of action for every daily task. 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. Before teenagers develop the prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain responsible for planning, judgment, and self-control, they are considered immature and prone to making careless decisions. Chess promote prefrontal cortex development to help players make better decisions and to be conscious of future consequences.
6. Attention Improvement
The Epidemic of the 21st century is ADHD. Adults and children alike find it more and more difficult to focus on tasks, with major decreases in productivity. Chess DEMANDS attention. You lose if you are not focused on the game. The mind is trained to be focused and attentive, resulting in better performance in schools and workplaces.
"Chess helps you to concentrate, improve your logic. It teaches you to play by the rules and take responsibility for your actions, how to problem solve in an uncertain environment."
– Gary Kasparov, formed champion of the world
"These young guys are playing checkers. I'm out there playing chess."
– Kobe Bryant
"Those who think that it is easy to play chess are mistaken. During a game a player lives on his nerves, and at the same time he must be perfectly composed."
– Victor Kortchnoi
"Chess is the gymnasium of the mind."
– Blaise Pascal
"Many have become chess masters; no one has become the master of chess."
– Siegbert Tarrasch
"Chess is life."
– Bobby Fischer
"Enormous self-belief, intuition, the ability to take a risk at a critical moment and go in for a very dangerous play with counter-chances for the opponent – it is precisely these qualities that distinguish great players."
– Gary Kasparov
Use your Knowledge for Good!
We hope we've helped you learn about the unlimited benefits of chess. However, these lists are by no means all that you can discover about chess. We urge you to continue exploring the wonders of chess through our shared journey in providing others with the same opportunity to achieve their maximum potential.
Education is the first step to understanding and throughly addressing any issue. Chess is no different. We challenge you to tell others what you have learned about the benefits of chess and to encourage others to play this amazing game.