The Benefits of Playing Chess
Board games have been enjoyed by people throughout the ages. From the simple ones played by children to pass the time, to the more complex games that require strategy and truly challenges the mind, board games have been extremely popular. When it comes to board games no game has enjoyed more popularity over the past 500 years, had more clubs dedicated to it, or more books written about it than Chess. What makes Chess unique is the fact that it removes the chance of luck and leaves it purely to the skill of the player. There is a reason why Chess has been called, “The Game of Kings” in fact, we have five reasons right here.
Improved Brain Function
Needless to say, the human brain is a remarkable organ. It is responsible for mental performance that governs the proper function of our entire body. This is the main reason why keeping this organ sharp as a blade is of utmost importance regardless of one’s age. No game can give the brain a rigorous workout like Chess can. It is a tool that can be used to keep the brain sharp and stimulated, because if it’s not the cells within the brain slowly die, which leads to a whole host of problems. Playing chess gives the brain a full workout in the same way physical workouts do. There have been many studies which suggest that playing Chess is able to stimulate both the left and right side of one’s brain. And we all know how important it develop a balanced physique. Chess helps players exercise both the left and right hemispheres of their brain because they need the left side to deal with recognizing objects, while the right side of their brain deals with recognizing different patterns. Research also suggests that playing Chess on a regular basis can improve one’s mental age by up to 14 years.
Enhances One’s Memory
Chess also helps keep diseases such as Alzheimer’s Disease at bay. There are many strategies and tactics that are used in winning a game, which cannot be learnt by heart but is developed over time. Chess players are able to develop an almost natural feeling when it comes to using specific tactics and strategies to out maneuver their opponent. A study that was featured in The New England Journal of Medicine found that people over the age of 75 who played chess are less likely to develop dementia. The subtlety in which playing Chess is able to improve one’s memory proves to be beneficial not only in playing Chess itself but also in other areas of one’s life such as their commitment to goals and academic performance. Other studies have also shown that playing Chess grows dendrites, which are tree-like branches that carry signals from other neural cells to the neurons that they are attached to. In other words, dendrites work as antennas that are used to pick up signals. The more powerful the antennas, the better the signal.
It Raises Your IQ
While the game of Chess has always had an image problem thanks to the media, one such problem is that it is portrayed as a game for nerds or brainiacs, which is nothing to be ashamed about. One study has put the question of “do smart people gravitate towards chess or does playing chess make you smart” to rest. According to research, playing Chess actually improves one’s IQ. A study was carried out on four thousand students, and found that their IQ scores was raised significantly after just four months of playing Chess.
As mentioned earlier, playing Chess activates the right hand side of the brain for pattern recognition. The right side of the brain is also responsible for creativity. So, it’s no surprise that activating the right hand side of the brain will greatly affect one’s originality and promote creative thinking. The great thing about playing Chess is that there are general techniques, principles and regularities that are used, but do not always have to be followed. Chess players are permitted to make a move by taking into account the specific features of each position. This is where logic comes in, and is the reason why at first a player’s move might seem irrational, but ends up being a clever way of capturing, recapturing, or moving away from a position to either put an end to the challenger’s combination, or gain a tempo. This ability to fly in the face of convention makes Chess the ideal game to improve one’s creativity in the game, which can then be applied to all other walks of life.
Improves Reading Abilities
We already know that playing Chess can improve one’s concentration, even though Chess masters often times come across as being scatter-brained professors. Back in the early 90s, a study was carried out by Dr. Stuart Margulies on the way Chess can improve a person’s reading performance. The study was carried out on 53 elementary school students, where half of the children how played Chess were evaluated against the other half who did not play Chess. Dr. Margulies found that playing Chess significantly improved the average student’s reading skills. And as if that wasn’t enough, a study that was carried out in 1998 by Robert Cage and James Smith called, “The Effects of Chess Instruction on the mathematics Achievement of Southern, Rural, Black Secondary” found that children who played Chess showed improved Mathematical skills.
It goes without saying that playing Chess regularly can significantly improve a youngster’s brain. There’s a raft of studies which suggests that playing Chess does help in the development of the prefrontal cortex, which is the last area to develop in the brain, and is responsible for self-control, judgment and planning, three very important areas of the brain’s function. What this means is adolescents are immature when it comes to these areas until they are fully developed. Chess helps promote the development of the prefrontal cortex, which helps people make better, more intelligent decisions in life. So, this is yet another reason why playing Chess should be promoted among youngsters, simply because it helps improve learning and memory.