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Is chess good for you?

"Chess, like love, like music, has the power to make men happy" - Siegbert Tarrasch, one of the best chess players of the 19th century.

Chess is often described as the ‘game of kings’, but why does it deserve such a title?

Why do people all over the world love chess so much? Chess is more than just a game for entertainment – it can improve your cognitive function and strengthen your emotional development.

Chess can improve your memory

It probably will not come as a surprise that playing chess can improve your memory. Chess involves learning new rules, memorising combinations of moves and remembering the outcomes of these moves. This requires a good memory of visual patterns and combinations.

Studies have shown that chess players tend to have better memories than people who do not play chess. For example, one study found that chess players could recall a list of words from memory better than non-chess players. Some research is even being done into the potential of chess to alleviate the memory loss related symptoms of dementia.

Chess can improve your planning skills

Playing chess can also help to improve your planning abilities. Chess involves a lot of planning and predicting to be able to make a decision on your next move. Since every move is important, strategy is incredibly important in chess. Therefore, playing this game improves your ability to strategically plan by weighing up risks and learning to make carefully thought-out decisions.

This skill can be transferred to many other settings outside of chess, improving your planning at work, school, or even just in day-to-day decisions.

Chess can improve your ability to see other people’s perspectives

By playing chess, you learn to predict and anticipate your opponent’s next move. To be able to do this, you learn to see decisions and actions from another person’s perspective. This ability is called ‘theory of mind’ in psychology and behavioural science. Theory of mind is invaluable in understanding what other people think, allowing you to feel empathy and develop social relationships.

Playing chess allows you to practice predicting what others may be thinking and feeling, improving your ability to form strong emotional connections. This has been shown in studies with children, where preschoolers who could play chess scored higher on theory of mind tests than other children. Improving the ability to understand the minds of others in both children and adults can help to improve relationships and decision-making.

Chess is much more than a game. From improving your cognitive skills to fostering stronger social bonds, the benefits of chess are incredibly diverse.

Why not come along to our Cocktails and Chess event and experience it for yourself?

Article Key Take Home Messages

  1. Chess improves memory. Chess players are shown to have better recall abilities compared to non-players. The process of learning and memorizing moves, combinations, and outcomes in chess contributes to the development of a strong visual memory and pattern recognition.

  2. Chess enhances planning skills. The game requires players to carefully plan their moves, weigh risks, and make thoughtful decisions. The planning skills honed through chess can be applied to various aspects of life, such as work, school, and day-to-day decision-making.

  3. Chess develops perspective-taking and empathy. This skill, referred to as 'theory of mind' in psychology, is valuable for fostering empathy and building social relationships. The ability to predict opponents' moves in chess translates into improved emotional connections, as demonstrated by studies with children who played chess scoring higher on theory of mind tests.


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