Is Chess a Waste of Time? Pros & Cons

Playwright George Bernand Shaw famously hated chess, stating, “Chess is a foolish expedient for making idle people believe they are doing something very clever when they are only wasting their time.” So, is chess a waste of time?

While it’s true that people spend hours playing this board game, many studies have shown that chess improves concentration, logical thinking, and spatial intelligence.

In this article, we’ll tell you all the different circumstances where chess might be a waste of time and the many benefits of the abstract strategy game. Let’s dive in!

Is Chess a Waste of Time?

Many people take on chess and devote their lives to it, without noticing all the better things they can do with their time.

Well, chess can be a waste of time for the following reasons:

1. Mastering Chess Takes Time

There’s a huge difference between playing chess now and again and mastering it. It can take a lifetime to become a chess master. You need plenty of time, effort, and consistency.

That’s because the game has infinite combinations of moves, as well as endless strategies and counter-attacks that you should learn.

That’s not all. You must also study your opponent and apply the correct strategy to the game, which is more challenging than you think.

Accordingly, if you don’t get paid, this can be pointless and time-consuming. For this reason, many people spend hundreds of hours attempting to master the game, only to give up later.

2. The Cognitive Effects of Chess Aren’t Noticeable

A common myth about chess is that it makes you smarter. Yet, there’s no scientific evidence behind this.

Instead, studies presume that chess increases happiness, which might result in increased academic performance in children. This means that chess is virtually no different from other hobbies.

There’s no denying that chess improves strategic thinking and problem-solving. That said, this is only applicable if you work in military tactics. Otherwise, there are no real-life skills you can learn from chess.

3. Chess Causes Stress

Though chess is believed to be good for the brain, it’s bad for the psyche. Chess creates immense stress for players. In fact, the activity of your brain during chess can be comparable to that of mental torture.

If you play chess competitively, you’ll know how stressful tournaments can get. This isn’t a game where you can show off your skills, or still be regarded as good even after losing.

Chess has no performance points, making it pretty competitive. Therefore, the win-lose game is an exceptional source of anxiety, especially for pros who rely on chess for a living.

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Furthermore, numerous chess players suffer sleep disturbances, which in turn can affect mental acuity, increase anxiety, and disturb hormones.

4. Chess Is Sedentary

Back in the day, chess was a way to wind down after hours of hard work. However, in our modern life, physical stimulation is more important than ever.

For this reason, we should aim to fill our free time with activity and exercise. Children, in particular, greatly benefit from releasing their energy through exercise rather than being cooped up indoors.

Moreover, research suggests that while mental stimulation is beneficial, physical exercise alone can reduce the progression of dementia. People who exercise regularly have a 40% reduced risk of vascular-related dementia.

As if that wasn’t enough, chess involves hours of sitting in one position. This can slow down metabolism, weaken bones and muscles, and impact posture.

5. Chess Is Silent

Did you know that an appropriate chess match involves no speaking whatsoever? This is only natural since chess players should concentrate on the game.

That said, humans are social creatures that thrive on conversation. Moreover, there’s no better way to meet new people than over a card game or a sports match while making small talk. Unfortunately, chess isn’t the best game for socialization.

You can play numerous matches against the same opponent, to the point that you learn their thought patterns and their game strategy. Yet, you might leave the chess board without ever learning their name!

6. There’s a Ceiling to Chess

Even though chess takes decades to master, or less if you’re a dedicated learner who does almost nothing else but play chess, at a certain point, you’ll have reached the peak.

To explain, some people find chess to be entertaining for the same reasons others find it a waste of time. Learning tactics and tracking your progress through chess can feel exhilarating.

Alas, once you learn all there is to know about chess, there’ll be no point in playing this game anymore. Instead, you’ll have spent years of your life mastering something, only to get bored. Additionally, you’ll have no real-life skills or physical proof of all the time you spent on chess.

7. It’s Hard to Redeem Yourself in Chess

In sports, the worst thing that can happen if you make a wrong move is that your opponent can score a goal. Fortunately, you can quickly bounce back and turn the game in your favor.

Alternatively, one wrong move in chess can completely ruin your game. In some extreme cases, there’s no point in finishing the match once you’ve made a mistake.

The problem is that during a chess match, you need to come up with hundreds of different scenarios and strategies.

Yet, you might still lose to a play you didn’t expect. Then, you have to scratch all the strategies in your head and start from scratch. Naturally, it can be pretty frustrating, as even the most excellent chess players must be constantly on their toes.

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8. Chess Is Boring

Let’s face it, unless you’re excellent at chess, the strategy game can feel frustrating, and boring, for beginners.

Additionally, in case you win, there isn’t a sense of accomplishment. The reason is that winning chess is most often due to the fault of your opponent, rather than an achievement of yours.

Many sports, board games, and video games are exciting to watch. However, when it comes to chess, you need to understand each move to enjoy chess tournaments. Even then, you can’t express your excitement or opinion, as the game is silent.

How Can Chess Be Beneficial?

Whether chess is a waste of your time depends on your preferences. After all, the time you enjoy wasting isn’t wasted time.

Still, there are numerous benefits to the board game, including the following:

1. Chess Is The Perfect Activity for Children

Children seem to have all the time in the world. They also get bored frequently. That’s where chess comes in handy.

Chess is a great way for children to enjoy themselves. Unlike video games, it isn’t violent or overstimulating. In contrast, it’s the ideal outlet for children’s competitive nature.

Moreover, chess can be a social game, as your children can get together with other players, cooperate, and communicate with them. For this reason, chess is superb for introverted children who dislike athletic sports.

2. Chess Improves Health

At the end of the day, your brain, just like any part of your body, can get stronger when you train it.

Playing chess can have a positive effect on mental disorders. For starters, it can help improve the symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

This is only natural, considering chess involves plenty of concentration and attention. In a 2016 study, researchers utilized chess as an adjunct treatment for 100 children with ADHD. The results were promising, showing a 41% decrease in ADHD symptoms.

Chess isn’t only beneficial for young children, but it can also protect older individuals from dementia. The strategy game keeps your mind active, as you’re constantly thinking and anticipating your opponent’s moves, significantly reducing cognitive decline.

Furthermore, studies show that chess can slow the progression of established dementia. The best part is that older individuals have plenty of free time, so they can play chess as much as they want!

3. Chess Builds Confidence

Undoubtedly, winning is one of the best feelings in the world. Accordingly, if you want to feel good about yourself, a game of chess is the answer.

Yet, losing a chess match can still teach you a lesson or two on self-worth and confidence. For starters, you’ll learn to accept losses. In addition, correctly solving tactics and seeing your opponent flustered is a great way to track your chess progress, increasing your confidence.

You don’t need to be a chess master to become confident in yourself. The game is all about being self-assured and accepting mistakes.

If your opponent senses that you don’t know what you’re doing, the match is as good as lost. On the other hand, trusting your memory and your hours of practice will yield the best results.

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4. Chess Is Free

If you want to play sports, video games, or get into another recreational hobby, you’ll need to pay a lot for supplies. In contrast, chess is completely free, apart from the chess set.

This means chess is the perfect way to spend your free time if you have little money. You’ll be boosting your brain power while playing a fun board game.

Otherwise, affordable free-time activities currently consist of spending hours mindlessly scrolling through your phone, or binge-watching a TV show. Clearly, chess is one of the best ways to spend your free time.

5. You Can Make Money Through Chess

You don’t have to become a chess grandmaster or participate in tournaments to get rich through the game. Instead, many people have earned a fortune through giving chess courses, demonstrating their strategies, and playing live matches on YouTube and Twitch.

So, if you find that the game is getting boring as you’ve learned everything there is to know, why not share your experience with others through an educational channel?

The best part is that you don’t have to be a professional to make money through chess. Simply sharing your hobby with the world, whether it’s your journey learning chess or your chess set collection, can turn this hobby from a waste of time into a money-maker.

6. Chess Allows You to Make Friends

Making friends as an adult is hard. You can’t just bond with someone because you attend the same classes or listen to similar music. Adult friendships require time and energy.

Luckily, chess allows you to widen your social circle, as you’ll meet people from different age groups and parts of the world.

Unlike reading and other solitary hobbies, you can use your free time to enjoy a fun board game and socialize with other like-minded individuals. You can even do it from the comfort of your home, thanks to the numerous online chess forums.

Keep in mind that you’ll still need to make some effort to get to know other chess players, but at least you’ll have chess as a conversation starter. Furthermore, you’ll ensure you have a fun activity that you and your new friend will enjoy doing together.

7. Chess Is Only a Hobby

Many chess players become deeply immersed in the game, spending most of their hours developing their skills and reading about chess strategies.

Well, too much of everything is harmful. That’s why many people believe chess is a waste of time.

Alternatively, chess, like other board games, is a great source of entertainment when you have nothing else to do.

You must understand that all games are designed to waste your time, so you should treat chess as an enjoyable activity for leisure. Practicing it sporadically can keep your brain active while allowing you to pursue other hobbies.

Wrapping Up

So, is chess a waste of time?

Simply put, chess is like any other game or leisure activity; you waste your free time playing it. Mastering chess is an entirely different story, as it can take a lifetime.

If you become a chess enthusiast, you might find yourself wrapped up in reading strategy books and watching chess tournaments. You’ll also spend more time improving your game, which isn’t always enjoyable.

In this case, chess can be stressful, dull, and a waste of time. Everything is good in moderation, though. Chess can be a fun hobby, especially for young children and older people, as it keeps their brains active.