Mental Health Benefits

Often known as a game for the intellectually gifted, chess is the best sport to exercise the most important organ in our bodies: the brain. But the question is: 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.

One of the last parts of the brain to develop during adolescence is the prefrontal cortex, the area responsible for judgment, planning, and self-control. Because playing chess requires strategic and critical thinking, it helps promote prefrontal cortex development and helps teenagers make better decisions in all areas of life, perhaps keeping them from making an irresponsible, risky choice.

Benjamin Franklin, in his article ‘The Moral of Chess’, said: “The Game of Chess is not merely an idle amusement; several very valuable qualities of the mind, useful in the course of human life, are to be acquired and strengthened by it, so as to become habits ready on all occasions; for life is a kind of Chess, in which we have often pointed to gain, and competitors or adversaries to contend with, and in which there is a vast variety of good and ill events, that are, in some degree, the effect of prudence, or the want of it. By playing at Chess then, we may learn:
Foresight- looks into the futurity and considers the consequences that may attend an action.
Circumspection- surveys the whole Chessboard, or scene of action—the relation of the several pieces, and their situations.
Caution- not to make moves too hastily…”

Alfred Binet demonstrated in the late 19th century that good chess players have superior memory and imagination. Adriaan de Groot concurred with Alfred Binet that visual memory and visual perception are important attributes and that problem-solving ability is of paramount importance.