“Chess is life”, said Bobby Fischer, grandmaster, and world chess champion. But does the game of chess actually benefit your mental and physical health? The staggering answer by researchers and scientists is a big yes. Listed below are some of the benefits of chess:
1. Learning and playing a game like chess actually stimulates the growth of dendrites (conducts signals from the neuron cells in your brain to the neuron they happen to be attached to), which in turn increases the speed and improves the quality of neural communication throughout your brain and consequently improves the performance of the brain.
2. Studies show that in order to play chess well, a player must develop and utilize his or her brain’s left hemisphere, which deals with object recognition, as well as a right hemisphere, which deals with pattern recognition. Over time, thanks to the rules and technique involved in the game, playing chess will effectively exercise and develop not one but both sides of your brain.
3. A medical study shows that playing chess, which stimulates brain function, measurably decreases the risk of dementia and combats its symptoms. Instead of letting the brain deteriorate, keeping the brain functioning at a normal rate, especially with a mind exercising activity like chess, will reduce your risk for Alzheimer’s disease as well as depression and anxiety.
4. A child who is introduced to chess at a young age is likely to do better in school for years to come. Research shows that playing chess improves a child’s thinking, problem-solving, reading, and math scores. Educators and chess experts generally agree the second grade is the ideal time to introduce children to chess, although some as young as four or five may be ready to learn and play.
5. Chess can be used to help rehabilitate patients recovering from stroke or a physically debilitating accident and as a form of therapy for those with autism or other developmental disabilities. Moving chess pieces across the board can help develop and fine-tune a patient’s motor sills, while the mental effort required to play the game can improve cognitive and communication skills. Playing can also stimulate deep concentration and calm, helping to center and relax patients who are experiencing different degrees of anxiety.