Chess is one of the oldest and most popular indoor games played in the world. Although it is stereotyped to be the game of brainiacs, it can be played by anyone irrespective of the age. It has high involvement of all parts of the brain in every single move of the game, thus helping in better functioning. Want to know more? Here are the 15 benefits of playing chess that you wouldn’t have heard of.
Schizophrenia a chronic mental disorder which affects patients ability to feel, behave and think. Results of a study at the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience in Bron, France suggested improvements in some mental abilities of Schizophrenia patients who played chess. The investigation was conducted on 26 patients suffering from the disorder. While half of the participants received a short introduction of the main rules and played twice a week for 5 weeks under the supervision of experienced players, the other half did not play the game. Mental ability tests were conducted before and after the 5-week period. The results showed a significant difference in the improvement of the chess playing group. It was also noted that the patients continued playing chess on their own even after completion of their studies. This proves that chess is beneficial to cure Schizophrenia.
Helps fight Depression and Anxiety
We all face stress and anxiety at deadlines of projects, tasks or tests and end up panicking in the pressure situation. The game of chess can help us in remaining calm and focussed in such pressure situations. Playing chess requires high concentration and planning. This forces our brain to avoid thinking about depressing thoughts or situations which may cause anxiety. Thus, chess is a great stress buster.
Improves Self Confidence
Chess is a one-on-one game. When playing the game, you are all on your own. You have to put in the effort individually to work on your game, analyzing the losses, when and how it went wrong without giving up. This develops resilience and instils a feeling of confidence.
Helps Avoid Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s is an incurable progressive mental disorder in which a person’s brain cell connections degenerate and the cells die on their own which leads to loss of memory and other important brain functions. It generally occurs at old age due to inactivity of Brain. Brain, like any other muscle of the body, needs regular exercise. Recent studies have suggested that playing chess stimulates the brain functions and helps in avoiding dementia.
Helps in Rehabilitation
Chess can be a great tool for people undergoing rehabilitation. Playing chess helps in the development of fine motor skills of the specially-abled individuals or people that might have met a physically debilitating accident. This involves the use of hand to move the chess pieces across the board. Also, chess is used for rehabilitation of drug addicts and alcoholics. Playing chess keeps their mind occupied preventing them from focussing on the pain and loss. Chess helps them regain focus and concentration leading them to gain back their confidence, keeping the dark thoughts away.
Improves Cognitive Skills
Skills that the brain uses to read, learn, remember and pay attention are cognitive skills. A great benefit of playing chess is that it stimulates the growth of dendrites. Dendrites are the branched end of neural chains that help in transferring neural signals. Growth of dendrites increases the speed and quality of neural communication. This helps in improving the overall processing of the brain which leads to improvement of cognitive skills.
A good player of chess always remembers the opponent’s game. You need to recall previous moves and understand the pattern in oppositions’ style of play. That is how you search for a flaw and take advantage of the same. A study in Pennsylvania on 6th graders showed that students who haven’t played chess before improved their memory verbal skills after playing.
The 64 blocks board game needs focus. Every move of the opponent asks for your attention. Wondering in the garden of thoughts will end you up being Check and mate. Continuous focus on the running game, observing each move, planning next move, visualising the outcome, and all such tasks involve a lot of brain processing. This helps exercising the brain for similar situations in daily life. Numerous studies in various countries have shown that chess helps in improving concentration and patience.
The game of chess is like an ever-changing puzzle to be solved within the given time and before the opponent. It also teaches how to approach a problem. A study in New Brunswick in 1992 divided 450 5th graders into 3 groups. Group C which began playing chess in the first grade outpaced non-chess playing Group A by 21.46%. This shows that chess can take your problem-solving skills to the next level.
Chess also assists in sparking creativity. A 4-year study on kids of grade 7-9 revealed that kids playing chess were more creative than the kids using computers or doing other things, scoring highest in the originality parameter. This primarily because of the need to break the pattern and explore new ways to beat the opponent.
Reasoning, Planning and foresight
Prefrontal Cortex is the area of the brain responsible for planning, judgement and self-control. It is one of the last parts of the brain to develop and teenagers are scientifically immature until that happens. Playing chess involves a great amount of reasoning when the opponent makes a move followed by planning the next moves and foreseeing the consequences. This helps in the development of Prefrontal Cortex of the brain, promoting them to think better and make better decisions in life.
Works on both sides of the brain
A German study has shown that both hemispheres of the brain are equally active while playing chess. While doing a body workout, we are expected to exercise both sides of the body equally for better results. Similarly, we have to work on both hemispheres of the brain to boost it’s functionality.
Faster learning Curve
Research reveals that the children who are introduced to chess at a young age are better at problem-solving, reading, thinking and maths. This makes it easier for them to learn anything faster and thoroughly. Strategy and clear vision is something very basic for chess players and working on these aspects would surely help in keeping it clear while learning something new.
Improves Spatial Skills
Spatial skills define one’s ability to understand, reason and remember the dimensional relations among objects. While playing the board game, one needs to grasp the position of all the pieces with their identity. Also, while imaging the future positions after n moves, one needs to remember the current location of all the pieces.
A study on 4,000 Venezuelan students showed a significant impact on the IQ scores of both boys and girls who played chess. This is an obvious outcome since it involves exercising all the 6 sections of the students’ brain.
One of the most common questions involving chess is: do intelligent people like playing chess or playing chess makes them intelligent? In any case, one is counted among the superior brains if he/she excels in the game. So grab the board and start practising today!