Chess is one of the best games you can play to keep your brain sharp and stimulated, whether you are 7 or 107. Here is the list of just some of the ways your mental health can benefit from chess:
- Chess promotes brain growth: Games like chess challenge the brain and stimulate the growth of dendrites, parts of your neuron cells that receive signals from other neurons. Activities that require harder thinking, such as chess, can speed up neural communication within the brain.
- It exercises both sides of the brain: a study conducted in Tübingen, Germany, showed that playing chess keeps both the left and right hemispheres of the brain highly active. The reason is that chess requires both creative and logical thinking.
- Chess raises your IQ: according to a study of 4,000 Venezuelan students, four months of chess classes produced significant rises in the IQ scores of both boys and girls.
- Alzheimer’s prevention: a report filed in 2003, in the New England Journal of Medicine, showed that people over 75 who engage in challenging brain-games like chess are less likely to develop dementia than their non-board-game-playing peers. The saying “use it or lose it” certainly applies here!
Chess hones reading skills: between 1986 and 1991 Dr. Stuart Margulies studied the reading performance of more than 3000 elementary school students in more than 100 public schools who participated in a chess program and evaluated them compared to non-chess-playing students in the district and around the country. He found decisive results that playing chess caused improved performance in reading. Even though chess is not a verbal game, it utilizes many mental faculties, thus improving overall cognitive ability.
- Memory improvement: chess requires strong memory, firstly in memorizing complex rules, as well as when trying to avoid previous mistakes or remembering a certain opponent’s playing style. A study in Pennsylvania found that students who had never before played chess improved their memory, mathematical, verbal and problem-solving skills after playing.
- Improves recovery from stroke or disability: Chess develops fine motor skills in individuals who have disability or have suffered a stroke, as it requires the motion of chess pieces in different directions (forward, backward, diagonally forward motion, diagonally backward motion). At the same time, the mental effort required to play the game can improve cognitive and communication skills.