Chess has been around for centuries and centuries and has gone through change after change. Tactics, styles, and techniques have been created to keep improving the game and for players to become masters of the game. Chess for many is seen as a game, however, many people see chess as more than just a board game you play when you need something to do. While sometimes there is a stigma chess is a game for "nerds" there is definitely nothing negative about playing chess.

The game of chess is a game for people who are intellectuals, and people who love strategy and solving problems. For many people, it is seen as a science or art. Methodically planning ahead to be two steps ahead of your opponent is part of the game. It is also a very peaceful game. It is a type of game where, while there is competition you can use chess as a form of meditation.

While we can not say it is strictly a type of meditation, there is a state of mind that you can get while playing the game that is relaxing and helpful for your mental health. Chess can add to your creativity, memory, amongst other things. In general, there are loads of positives to playing chess and can greatly help your mindset in life as well as on the chessboard.

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Why is Chess Important

While it may be ignored by large portions of society, chess is actually an extremely important game, from centuries ago until now. Many even see chess as a sport, while it is not something with a lot of contacts or running it is something that is competitive. Therefore it is something that can raise your levels of tactics and strategy.

Chess is really important for a few different reasons.

  • Historical importance
  • Increases IQ
  • Increases Reading skills
  • Increases problem-solving skills
  • Increases logical and analytical skills

Chess players have been proven to do better in exams, especially mathematical exams that require a lot of analytical problem-solving. There have also been studies that have shown that after systematically playing chess for some months, the player's IQ was raised a few points. Chess is a game that requires you to be on top of your game from an analytical standpoint.

Anything that can raise your problem-solving skills is not only useful for chess or academics but for real-life situations as well. In most jobs you will need to be able to think fast and improvise, practicing the game of chess regularly can surely help you do that. Playing chess is like food for the mind, the more you play the stronger your mind is when needing to solve problems and analyze situations.

If you are a student in high school or college and not a huge fan of studying math, then perhaps picking up chess is a great way of studying math without studying. Unfortunately for some, it is required that we study math in high school and typically in college as well. If you are not such a huge fan of the subject, why not play chess.

It can help you improve your analytical and problem-solving skills without actually needing to pick up a math textbook.

It is extremely important for these reasons that parents can and should teach children how to play chess at a young age. If they grow up playing the game they can really enjoy it and they can end up with better grades and perhaps even a peaceful and calm state of mind.

How Chess Improves Problem Solving and Intelligence

A girl staring at a chess board
Playing Chess regularly can increase problem-solving skills. Source: Pexels

What comes first, the chicken or the egg? Does chess improve your memory and intelligence or are people, good chess players, because they are intelligent? These are questions a lot of people ask and try to answer. If you are wondering if playing chess will automatically make you a genius, well you may not be the next Stephen Hawking, but chess can help your intelligence and memory in some distinct ways.

Thanks to some studies we have seen that people with a lot of chess-playing experience have some elevated levels in thinking abilities. The thinking abilities fall into two categories, fluid intelligence, and processing speed.

Fluid Intelligence

What fluid intelligence is basically, problem-solving skills. Fluid intelligence is the ability to identify new problems and solve them. While playing chess you are constantly monitoring and reacting to your opponent's moves and strategy trying to outsmart them. They can pull off any move you weren't expecting at any moment and you'll need to know how to improvise in order to get the better of them.

Thanks to Fluid intelligence your reasoning skills will improve a lot. Chess can help you practice those skills. Figuring out your opponents strategy due to his past moves as well as where the chess pieces are set up on the board is a sign of good fluid intelligence.

Processing Speed

Improvisation goes hand in hand with problem-solving. You may not always be able to improvise on a math or English test in school (you should always study), but in real life fluid intelligence can be extremely helpful.

Processing speed is the ability to quickly understand tasks and then respond efficiently to challenges. While fluid intelligence is the ability of logic and thinking, processing speed is more improvisation and how long it takes you to figure out these problems and reacting to any unexpected and sudden challenge that has arrived.

While playing chess a skilled opponent may pull out a move you were not expecting at all, if your processing speed is at a good level you'll know what to do. Playing chess can help you to sharpen this skill and it's not only something that can help you in chess but also in your life as well.

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Chess and Memory Skills

Playing chess is really beneficial for your memory. Memory skills can be affected by playing and practicing chess on a regular basis. There are many studies that have shown how chess players have developed these memory skills better than non chess players.

Of course, when you play chess as mentioned earlier you have to develop a lot of strategies and theories for the game of chess. While developing strategies you of course have to practice and repeat and review different moves that you can make or that your opponent can make.

It is important to note there is basically an infinite number of moves you can make in chess. Okay, infinite, isn't exactly the right amount, however, there are A LOT. If you can remember even 10% of all the possible moves in chess you will have increased your memory skills by quite a bit.

How Can Chess Help your Mental Health

Man talking with therapist
Chess can help with therapy and mental health. Source: Pexels

There are a few different ways that playing chess helps to improve your mental health. Chess can help you with a few things regarding mental health.

  • Therapy
  • Protection against dementia
  • Help those with ADHD

Therapy

There have been therapists that have come out and said chess can definitely be a help in increasing self-awareness while helping to build relationships during therapy. Therapists use chess to see how people react to stress and to challenges while they are playing a chess match.

Protection against Dementia

As you get older you are more likely to develop dementia which is a disease that affects your mind and your memory. As we mentioned earlier playing chess is something that helps your memory skills as you play more and more.

There has been research that developing your memory skills and cognitive abilities while playing chess and may help in the fight against dementia.

Helping Relieve ADHD Symptoms

Another study showed that over one hundred students with ADHD began playing chess regularly as a part of their treatment in a study. The study showed a forty-one percent decrease in non attentiveness.

How to Start Playing Chess Regularly

While you may now want to become interested in playing chess you may have some trouble finding people to play with. It is really easy to find a chessboard at a local toy store or shop but finding someone to play with is another matter.

Luckily there are chess clubs everywhere in the United States for people who play or want to play the game regularly. Using Superprof you can also find a personal chess tutor that you can play with regularly not only as competition but as someone that can help you learn the game. There are many reasons to play chess as it is also seen as more than just a game.

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Chris