The game of chess, as we all know, is famous for stimulating and strengthening our critical thinking skills. However, the glorious game of chess isn’t all that beneficial. In this article, we’ll answer the question: why is chess bad for you?
Chess is usually stereotyped as a game for the enlightened ones. If you know how to play chess, you’re officially smart. But unfortunately, no one’s talking about its harmful side effects on a player’s mental, emotional, and physical health.
From obesity to extreme stress and mental illness, chess is far from being an innocent, harmless game. In fact, many renowned world champions have suffered from the side effects of being chess grandmasters, but we’ll come to that later.
Right now, the real question is…
Why Is Chess Bad for You?
The severity of the harmful side effects depends on how much time you spend practicing. The deeper you dive into the world of 64 squares, the riskier it gets.
Here are 5 reasons chess isn’t as glorious as it seems.
1) No Physical Exercise
Playing chess requires you to sit down for hours and hours. A casual chess game could last up to one hour, and tournament games can go on for 6 hours!
All that sitting weakens your muscles, raises your blood pressure, and increases the risk of gaining weight. All of which would lead to an obesity problem.
Researchers have found that sitting for over eight hours per day increases your risk of dying from cancer or heart disease. In other words, sitting still all day is as bad for your health as smoking and obesity.
Moving around every 30 minutes, for instance, should prevent these side effects. The more physical activity you can do throughout your day—no matter how insignificant it may seem—the better for your heart.
2) No Decent Income
Playing chess isn’t the kind of hobby that could one day turn into a career and pay the bills. Only a handful of people end up making a living out of playing chess, and none of them took up the hobby as adults.
In fact, almost every famous chess grandmaster started playing when they were as young as 5 years old. So, if you start playing chess as an adult, then keep it as a hobby, not a career.
Another thing you should keep in mind is that chess isn’t as glamorous as football or basketball. Yes, it’s relatively more popular nowadays than before, but it’s still not a top sport yet. So, don’t expect to get a high social standing for winning like other popular sports.
The moral of the story is that if you’re looking to invest your time, money, and brain juice into a lucrative hobby, then chess isn’t your best option.
3) No Socialization
Like any other player in an individual game, every chess player wants to bring their opponent down. However, when it comes to chess, competitiveness gets magnified. That’s because the chess community is known to degrade any players who are less than exceptional.
Players also avoid anything that might disturb their focus, which is another reason for the lack of socialization. They might even avoid any small talk with their peers at tournaments just to stay in the zone. That’s why there’s not much room for socializing within the chess community.
Moreover, chess isn’t a game for a happy-go-lucky strategy. Players need to prepare for months prior to the tournaments. They need to dedicate their schedule to working on their chess openings and strategies, which doesn’t give them much time to go out and mingle with others.
4) Extremely Stressful
Becoming a professional chess player requires you to pour all of your physical, emotional, and mental energy into the game. It takes time, effort, and resources to train, and compete with the pros.
All of this stress can easily overwhelm any chess player, especially if they’re a beginner. In some cases, the stress of playing chess, whether emotional, mental, or physical, can be fatal.
Going completely mad is another byproduct of extreme stress due to playing chess—or at least, that’s what the stereotype is in the chess world.
Over the years, many chess players, both pros and amateurs, have suffered from various personality complications.
These players were associated with eccentric nervous disorders, such as paranoia, narcissism, borderline personality disorder (BPD), and schizotypal personality disorder (STPD).
Paul Morphy, the legendary world champion, sets an example of how much the stress of playing could mess up your brain.
After two years of international competitive chess, Morphy retired. He then joined the army and tried to set up a law practice, but failed miserably. By then, his mental health began to decline so rapidly that his mother tried to admit him into a Catholic sanitarium, but he refused.
On July 10, 1884, in New Orleans, Paul Morphy was declared dead. According to his autopsy, Morphy died in his bathtub due to a stroke.
Learning chess is a long process that takes up your time, especially for beginners. First of all, you’ll have to learn the basics and the rules. Next, you will need to practice over the board and apply what you’ve learned.
Practicing will take a lot of time because you’ll still be in the demonstration phase. In this phase, you’ll be learning all the strategies and techniques. These strategies take quite a while to digest and is not quite easy to apply over the chess board as a beginner.
After you become an expert (usually 2000 rating plus), you’ll need to put in even more time and effort to prepare for serious competitve tournaments —more so if you want to become a an international master or grandmaster.
With all the time you spend on practicing to become an expert, you risk developing an addiction to playing chess.
Sure, it feels outstanding when your tactics and strategies work and you win almost every game you play. However, your enthusiasm to play can quickly develop into an unhealthy habit of being attached to the euphoric feeling of winning. In other words, you become addicted to chess.
In a Nutshell
Chess is a great game to work your neurons and improve critical thinking. However, it has a dark side that you’ll want to steer clear of. Too much chess can negatively affect your body, brain, and soul.
So always remember to practice responsibly. Put your physical, mental, and emotional well-being above any other momentary gains—including winning a chess game.