5 ways playing chess can boost your mind and your life
Chess has been proven by numerous studies to help a variety of mind skills and has been growing in popularity around the world. It is an ancient game, at least 1500 years old and was likely originated in India, derived from the strategy game chaturanga.
It is also an incredibly beneficial pastime, because playing chess results in better brain function, improved memory and cognitive abilities, strategic thinking and attention improvement. All of these benefits are directly related to the practice of chess, both in real-life and virtual environments, which means that chess is the answer to the question: ‘Is there a game where I can have fun AND get benefits from?’
Here are 5 ways playing chess can boost you mind and your life:
1. Promotes brain growth: Games like chess that challenge the brain actually stimulate the growth of dendrites, the bodies that send out signals from the brain’s neuron cells. With more dendrites, neural communication within the brain improves and becomes faster.
2. Raises your IQ: Do smart people play chess, or does chess make people smart? At least one scientific study has shown that playing the game can actually raise a person’s IQ. A study of 4,000 Venezuelan students produced significant rises in the IQ scores of both boys and girls after four months of chess instruction. So grab a chess board and improve your IQ!
3. Helps prevent Alzheimer’s: As we age, it becomes increasingly important to give the brain a workout, just as you would every other major muscle group, in order to keep it healthy and fit. A recent study featured in The New England Journal of Medicine found that people over 75 who engage in brain-games like chess are less likely to develop dementia than their non-board-game-playing peers. The saying “use it or lose it” certainly applies here, as a sedentary brain can decrease brain power. All the more reason to play chess before you turn 75.
4. Chess players are successful: The 2012 YouGov poll found a clear relationship between being a regular chess player and various measures of achievement and success. 78% of active chess players are university graduates. 20% of households making above $120,000 regularly play chess. Chess players are 5 times more likely to read in-depth analysis and high-brow publications. They are also likely to be affluent, 40% more likely to purchase luxury items.
5. It increases your creativity: Since the right hemisphere of the brain is responsible for creativity, it should come as no surprise that activating the right side of your brain helps develop your creative side. Specifically, chess greatly increases originality. One four-year study had students from grades 7 to 9 play chess, use computers, or do other activities once a week for 32 weeks to see which activity fostered the most growth in creative thinking. The chess group scored higher in all measures of creativity, with originality being their biggest area of gain.
6. It teaches planning and foresight: Having teenagers play chess might just save their lives. It goes like this: one of the last parts of the brain to develop is the prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain responsible for planning, judgment, and self-control. So adolescents are scientifically immature until this part develops. Strategy games like chess can promote prefrontal cortex development and help them make better decisions in all areas of life, perhaps keeping them from making a stupid, risky choice of the kind associated with being a teenager.