Top 10 Health Benefits of Chess: Part 2


The Top 10 Health Benefits of Chess has already been highlighted on our page, but new research is always developing regarding the many rewards of playing. In fact, chess has been found to be one of the best games for improving your brainpower.

Our own founder, Samir Becic is an avid chess fan himself who believes that the amalgamation of brains and brawn is the key to success: “In the 21st century, in order to excel, we have to combine intellectual cognitive thinking and physical exercise. I don’t see a better fusion than fitness and chess.”

In case you still need more convincing, here are ten additional reasons you should consider becoming the next “king” or “queen” of chess:

  • Can be played while social distancing: Number 1 Fitness trainer in America, Samir Becic recommends chess as the best brain exercise to play while social distancing- and the International Chess Federation even asked him to share his thoughts on Olympic Day. “Chess is the best game to play with your family, especially your kids while at home due to the COVID pandemic. Besides improving your cognitive skills, it allows you to better cope with the current situation because it improves your problem-solving skills and occupies the mind in a positive way.”
  • Chess can help you become a better leader: The best players follow eight principles that help them consistently outperform their opponents. A 2015 analysis of one of the greatest world leaders, Nelson Mandela, shows that many of Mandela’s leadership strategies can be interpreted using these eight chess principles. These principles include general rules, such as be decisive even when you are uncertain and use different perspectives to evaluate options. It is possible that chess players apply these principles to other areas of life, and this may help them develop better leadership skills. 
  • Chess can help alleviate depression and anxiety: Many people who struggle with mental health disorders face the fear of not being in control. According to Dr. Nicole Beurkens, a holistic child psychologist, board games, such as chess, can actually help people become comfortable in situations of uncertainty. With each game, the player gambles the outcome of winning or losing; through this uncertainty, players may develop resilience when facing similar situations in reality. Further, in a study conducted on the effects of board games on health education, it was found that after 6 weeks of patients incorporating traditional board games, including chess, into their daily routine, their depression and anxiety levels decreased significantly. Overall, everyone is unique and may cope with mental health issues differently. However, if you are struggling with your mental health, chess may just be the perfect therapy.
  • Chess can help improve self esteem: Many know that chess is a very difficult game to understand let alone achieve in it. Being able to comprehend a sophisticated game like chess can create a positive attitude, increase confidence, and a sense of control over one’s life. Young players who excel in the game are able to prove that they are capable individuals that can also be successful during certain situations that require an immense amount of thought, thus improving their self esteem. A study also concluded that playing and practicing chess can have a significant impact on three aspects of a young person’s life such as their self esteem, self efficacy, and social anxiety. 
  • Helps build empathy: It is crucial to take into account that there is someone else playing against you, therefore predicting the moves that the other player will make and what will be the strategy followed by the opponent requires a lot of concentration and thought. In other words, anticipation in chess is predominant in order to respond appropriately and thus win the game. Chess favors integration since age, nationality, and even language are not important, as children can play with young individuals or adults and it is not necessary to be a great player to participate in open tournaments. It also fosters organizational capacity and the balance between rationality and emotionality.
  • Improves auditory memory: Chess can improve certain cognitive skills, such as memory capacity. Improved auditory memory capacity has been seen to increase in chess players, especially long-term players. The reasoning is because of the repetitive nature and reinforcement of the verbiage used during gameplay. The brain eventually recognizes these phrases and uses the same pathway to act on and understand their meanings. Long- term playing also enhances pattern recognition as well as spatial- cognition,as the left side of the brain is more active while playing chess. In a study of 30 expert chess players and 30 non-experts, the expert chess players had a significantly increased auditory memory function.
  • Helps Foster Creativity: The art of Chess encourages players to implement unorthodox strategies and moves in order to trump their opponents. This involves players “thinking outside of the box”, and encourages this creative view in all other aspects of life. Creative thinking is how you solve problems, and it is strengthened through chess. Playing chess regularly gives your brain various new opportunities to not only develop creative solutions for common problems, but also have the ability to  implement them in unique ways. This increases your level of creative thinking in chess, but in other areas of your life as well, such as school and work.
  • Improves Visual-Spatial Intelligence: Playing chess involves a keen understanding of the positions of each piece on the board, both yours and your opponent’s. Because of this, players often exhibit the ability to see beyond the current placement of an object – e.g. where it will end up later, possible countermoves, etc. Most people with this type of visual-spatial intelligence are not only better chess players, but exhibit expertise in the arts and sciences. In fact, study found that children who played chess demonstrated higher levels of spatial ability along with their higher levels of intelligence.
  • Helps Those Undergoing Rehabilitation: From those in prison to those battling drug and alcohol addiction, chess can help rehabilitate individuals. Chess is able to do this due to it being a game of logic. There are a finite amount of moves a player can make, but being in control of what chess piece goes where creates a sense of power and control that a prisoner or patient may not otherwise feel in their daily lives. Chess is also a great tool in that it aids in occupying one’s mind. An individual is able to escape intrusive or negative thoughts by concentrating on their next move. 
  • Increases and Improves Attention Span: With so many different distractions within our world today, adults and children alike are finding it much harder to focus on school or work, resulting in productivity levels around the world to decline rapidly. However, chess is one activity that demands your attention because without it, you will lose the game just like that. If lack of attention in chess costs you the game, your mind will automatically become trained to associate having less attention with loss. Therefore, if you play chess consistently, you are able to teach yourself how to be more focused and attentive, which will not only improve your attention span, but your performance in school, work, and life as well.

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