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Benefits of Playing Chess

Wong Shu Lee  


  July 19, 2022


Do you play chess? Every year on 20th July, International Chess Day is celebrated by many of the 605 million regular chess players worldwide. Chess is not only Ron Weasley’s expertise but is loved all over the world, from the west to the east. People gather in living rooms, pubs, plazas, and libraries to match wits over the cherished checkered board. 


Why are people willing to devote such time to the game? It’s undoubtedly the fact that chess involves an intense intellectual challenge that’s very good for the health of your mind.


Keep reading to learn what are the benefits of playing chess. 


Chess Develops Perspective


Skilled chess players learn to anticipate an opponent’s next moves. To predict what another person will do next, a player must develop the ability to adopt another person’s perspective and infer what action they are likely to take.


Behavioral scientists call this ability to see from another viewpoint the “theory of mind.” It’s an ability that is essential to exercising empathy and building healthy social relationships. 


Chess Improves Memory 


It might not be surprising to learn that expert chess players have strong memory skills. After all, the game involves memorizing numerous combinations of moves and their potential outcomes.


It’s also interesting to note that experienced chess players show higher performance related to a particular kind of recollection: auditory memory. This is the ability to remember what you’ve learned through hearing.


Researchers found that the chess players were significantly better at recalling lists of words they’d heard than people who had never played chess.


Skilled chess players also have a better than average ability to remember and quickly recognize visual patterns, which researchers think comes from memorizing complex chess positions.


Chess Elevates Your Creativity


Researchers at a school in India tested the creative thinking skills of two groups of students. One group was trained in chess playing, and the other was not.


The tests asked students to come up with alternate uses for common items and to interpret patterns and meaning in abstract forms. Students who played chess scored higher on tests. Researchers concluded that chess increased the students’ ability to exercise divergent and creative thinking.


Chess Improves Planning Skills


Chess games are known for long periods of silent contemplation, during which players consider each move. Players spend time anticipating their opponents’ responses and attempting to predict every eventuality.


That habit of mind — careful contemplation and planning — is one of the cognitive health benefits of playing chess.


Behavioral scientists gave two groups of people the Tower of London test — a cognitive functioning test involving pegs and beads — and measured their planning skills. The group that regularly played chess demonstrated significantly better planning skills than the group that did not play chess. Also, people in the chess group spent a lot more time making decisions during the test.


In a nutshell, chess has many cognitive benefits, including the ability to improve your:


  • intelligence
  • empathy
  • memory
  • planning and problem-solving skills
  • creative abilities


However, if you’re considering chess as a hobby, you should know that it can be time-consuming and stressful, especially if you plan to master the game or compete in tournaments. 


Whether these drawbacks outweigh the potential cognitive health benefits is something you’ll have to determine for yourself. It’s your move. 


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