Better Brain Function: the brain is remarkable – it is responsible for our mental performance and it is the most crucial organ in the human body. When the brain has no stimulation, the cells inside slowly die, it’s an example of “if you don’t use it, you lose it” moto, however, chess is a tool which gives users a rigorous mental workout. Let’s look at a quick example: to get the most benefit from a physical workout, you need to exercise both the left and right sides of your body. 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 the right hemisphere, which deals with pattern recognition. Over time, thanks to the rules and techniques involved in the game, playing chess will effectively exercise and develop not one but both sides of your brain. Scientists also claim that playing chess can improve mental age by up to 14 years. How’s that for a workout?
Improved Cognitive Abilities: Cognitive ability is a very broad term, it includes perception, motor, language, visual and spatial processing and executive functions. This is a big list and it covers almost everything that you do. For example with executive function you can immediately recognize that the thing in front of you is square shaped and not round. While playing chess, EACH cognitive ability is stimulated because the game covers every part of our actions. So the next time you see chess players playing, think about the ‘exercise’ they’re going through.
Strategic Thinking: Chess is considered to be a strategy game – this means that in order to win, you must have a better plan of action than your opponent. But no one is born with the ability to conceive great strategic moves, it must be learned by practicing. To most people, strategy is associated with war and army generals planning their attacks with strategic moves, this example is not far from chess. Just like a general commands his army, a chess player commands his or her own pieces in a battle of black and white. So playing chess greatly improves the ability to develop certain strategies and plans. And no, this benefit is not only useful to army generals and chess players – a good strategic mind is much more productive, because it creates the best plan of action for every daily task. Also, strategic thinking is a life savior in academic and work environments, because everything is planned one step ahead and there’s always a plan B.
Increases problem-solving skills: A chess match requires fast thinking and problem-solving on the fly because your opponent is constantly changing the parameters. A 1992 study conducted on 450 fifth-grade students in New Brunswick indicated that those who learned to play chess scored significantly higher on standardized tests compared to those who did not play chess.