Often played by all age groups, chess is equally entertaining and challenging. Because the game repeatedly tests your mental ability, it stimulates the mind and creates an exciting atmosphere.
We all know the benefits of physical exercise and strive to achieve them, but we don’t pay the same attention to mental exercise. That said, chess is an excellent tool that we can use to elevate our minds.
So, is chess good for your brain? Yes! Chess can give you a strong memory and a good attention span, both of which are directly related to upgrading your learning abilities. It can also make you more understanding of other people.
Moreover, chess can be used in therapy to reduce anxiety and increase self-awareness and trust between a client and a therapist.
Now, let’s delve into more details.
Why Is Chess Good for Your Brain?
As mentioned above, chess is a great way to exercise your mind. Here’s a closer look at why chess is good for your brain.
It Boosts Memory Function
As a player, you need to memorize various moves, as well as remember past mistakes to develop tactics not to fall into them again. This is why chess is one of the games that improve memory.
An experiment was conducted on children between the ages of 6 and 14 to evaluate whether a chess training program resulted in working memory improvement. The results showed that chess training significantly improved the working memory of children who received it compared to those who didn’t.
Moreover, it was found that chess can protect against the development of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
It Improves Planning Skills
Chess players spend a lot of time considering and planning their moves. During this contemplation, they tend to develop the skill of foreseeing their opponent’s next move.
When players put themselves in other players’ shoes and try to predict their responses, they can make the right decisions. This process significantly develops cognitive health and planning skills.
It Enhances Problem-Solving Skills
Playing chess constantly poses a situation where you have to think quickly to solve the problem at hand. Because your opponent is always changing the board, your responses to their moves must be well thought out and fast at the same time.
When chess players are used to playing against a specific opponent, they become familiar with their competitor’s strategy against them. They start developing techniques to oppose their opponents’ unique plans.
With this in mind, playing chess promotes logic and reasoning and improves problem-solving skills, making a person more efficient at finding solutions.
It Speeds Up Information Processing
Chess increases a person’s ability to understand and store information. Additionally, it boosts the speed at which this information is processed, rendering chess players very fast learners. Increased processing speed not only makes you a good chess player, but it also improves productivity at work and school.
It Helps You Understand People Better
As mentioned above, chess players often have the skill of predicting their opponents’ next move. This allows them to see from another person’s perspective, an ability known as ‘theory of mind’.
Adopting another person’s perspective creates healthy social interactions in which we’re able to understand and empathize with one another. Chess can develop this skill in children and people who play it.
It Improves Creativity
Chess is a creative game. As you design your strategy and develop a new one mid-game once your opponent changes the gameboard, you learn how to creatively outsmart whoever you’re playing against.
To be a great chess player, you need to have a strong imagination. This imaginative thinking enables you to envision your opponent’s next move.
These creative thinking techniques stretch further to be applied to other aspects of life. It boosts a person’s originality and allows them to come up with brand-new ideas.
It Reduces Stress and Anxiety
Once you start a chess game, you become fully absorbed in it to the point it’s hard to think about anything else. A chess game usually lasts for about 90 minutes, which means you get to have a break from every stressful thing in your life for 90 whole minutes!
Another way chess can alleviate stress is by winning a game. Many people play chess when they’re stressed because it helps them relax and empty their heads.
It Improves Sustained Attention
A chess game requires a player to maintain their undivided attention for as long as they’re playing, which could be hours. The more someone practices this sustained focus, the better they become at it.
Impaired attention is often seen in people diagnosed with ADHD. And studies suggest a link between playing chess and a decrease in ADHD symptoms severity.
One study’s results showed that chess increases attentiveness in ADHD students. On top of that, it indicated that these students were able to focus longer on their tasks before they became hyperactive again.
It Can Maximize Therapy Results
There’s a creative approach to therapy where psychologists use chess to increase self-awareness in their clients. During a match, they asses the way their clients respond to problems and challenges and then share those assessments with them. This process helps clients better understand their reactions.
Therapists can draw information such as the level of impulsivity, how the person deals with pressure, and how they would handle failure. Moreover, chess helps clients to relax and organize their thoughts. It also builds trust between a therapist and a patient, which, in turn, helps a therapist gain more insight into the client’s inner world.
Some studies also indicated that being good at a challenging game like chess increased self-confidence in children. Thus, therapists use chess therapy to help children with low self-esteem.
To wrap up, chess is an awesome game to advance your brain’s performance. It boosts your memory function and improves cognitive health and planning skills. It enhances problem-solving skills, creates a deeper understanding of other people’s feelings, and increases prediction skills.
Moreover, it speeds up information processing and makes learning easier and faster. It also boosts creative thinking and imagination and alleviates stress and anxiety. Lastly, chess can be used in therapy for ADHD treatment, and to increase self-awareness and trust between therapists and clients.