By Labib Mahmud, Operations Intern
Chess is one of the most popular and famous strategy games. It is not a game that is based on luck, but rather, how you can outsmart your opponent. While we associate chess with old men, it can be played at any age. In fact, this is one of the reasons why chess is great for improving the brain.
Here are some reasons why chess is an excellent game for the brain, and why chess can have negative results as well:
- It improves analytical skills.
Research gathered from another institute suggests that chess improves reading skills. “An oft-cited study in 1991 by Dr. Stuart Margulies suggests that school students who participated in playing chess have a significant increase in their reading performance. Kids from a district where average kids were tested below the national average, who participated in a chess program, have increased their performance in reading.” 1 In this study, the results showed that students who played chess performed better in reading-based tasks compared to students who didn’t play chess. The larger conclusion is that the students who played chess had more detail to pay attention. That is because chess improves one’s ability to analyze a situation in depth. Chess requires a player to visualize possible attacks and counterattacks.
- Maximum mental performance.
In general, when someone is engaged in a task, they put all their effort and concentration into it. During intense chess battles, many players are so focused on winning that they use maximum mental performance in order to win. What this means is that the brain is in a flow state. It produces feelings of satisfaction. It’s beneficial for the brain, and it improves one’s skills for the next competition.
- Chess makes you more creative.
We know that chess works both hemispheres of the brain. The right side of the brain is also responsible for creativity. Studies have shown that students who played chess over non-chess players had more original creative works. It’s not to say that non chess players don’t have originality, but rather, chess players tend to have an easier time with generating creative ideas.
- It prevents dementia and Alzheimers for the aging.
As we get older, we tend to lose our cognitive abilities. Dementia is a common neurological disease among the aging. While there isn’t a definitive cure for the disease, it can be slowed down and prevent it from taking over the entire brain. According to a study done by the National Library of Medicine, “Some studies show that older people who frequently engage in mentally stimulating activities have fewer possibilities to develop AD or experience cognitive decline . Being cognitively active might contribute to fortifying cognitive reserve and enhancing adaptation to age-related pathologic changes .”2 In general, activities that keep the brain active may lead to a lower possibility of cognitive decline. One such activity is playing chess. It’s a simple game to understand, so old people can easily play it. The strategic nature of chess taxes the brain to work harder, which keeps the brain active as well, even though it’s deteriorating. This is where we get the cliche that only old people enjoy chess.
- It can be too addicting
With anything good comes bad. While chess might seem too good to be true, frankly, some people can’t seem to control their addictions. Even chess can become a nasty addiction to some people. Their desire to win mini competitions online keeps them playing for a long period of time. While it can be a good thing, these people aren’t considering how it’s like sitting in front of a TV at that point or playing video games. Sitting down for long periods of time can affect your body physically. To prevent this, play chess with moderation and how much time you play for each round.
2 thoughts on “Chess: Skills Development and Risks”
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