The Benefits of Chess

Chess can be useful for many areas of your life. Chess can improve your:

  • Thinking
  • Planning
  • Focus

And can mentally stimulate your mind, alongside reducing stress.

Chess really is a lifelong game with a whole host of benefits which are further explored below.

Photo by Randy Fath on Unsplash

Thinking Ahead

In chess, thinking ahead is of the utmost importance. Players who are able to plan multiple turns in advance will often have a clear strategic advantage over their opponents.

In life, thinking ahead is also important; even if you are content with your current position or situation, it’s essential to regularly take steps that will ensure your future well-being.

In chess, being aware of how a move may affect your opponent’s next turn and how that turn may either help or hurt you can give you insight into what moves are best for you to make at any given point in the game.

While it’s not always possible (or practical) to predict every potential outcome of your actions, planning ahead as much as possible will help keep you from getting caught off-guard by a clever move from an opponent.

Interestingly, Garry Kasparov, an incredibly renowned chess player, said that he calculates 3 to 5 moves ahead but “can go much deeper if it is required”, going up to as many as 12 to 14 (in a position involving forced moves).

In life, it’s critical to think ahead, not just in the short term but also in the long term. Consider your daily, monthly, annual and other goals. For every decision you make, evaluate the pros and cons, and be aware of their consequences.

Planning and Strategy

Being able to plan ahead is a very useful life skill. It will be easier for you to achieve your goals if you have a clear idea of what they are, and one of the best ways to practice this is through chess.

In chess, it is crucial to have a good plan every time you sit down at the board. You should not just be deciding what move to make now — you should be thinking many moves into the future.

For example, let’s say that we are in a middlegame position in which White has an extra pawn. The position looks like it might start opening up soon, and so both sides need to decide how they want their pieces positioned when this happens. White also needs some way of protecting their extra pawn since otherwise, it could be taken by Black.

This simplistic example alongside many more complex situations can have so many subtle complexities, involving a significant amount of planning and strategic thinking.

Focus and Concentration

The development of focus and concentration is important for success in chess. This can also be a great way to improve focus and concentration in other areas of life.

There are many ways to develop focus and concentration through chess. An obvious one is just by playing chess — dedicate a solid amount of time and just sit there playing, forcing you to focus on each game at hand.

Spending time studying the game can also be a great way to develop these traits.

Stress Relief

Chess can be an ideal outlet to relieve stress. Many people find it a calming activity, both in the physical act of moving the pieces and in mentally concentrating on the game itself. I know I do.

Chess provides a welcome break from daily worries and troubles. A few simple moves can create a strategic situation that you must resolve through critical thinking.

The puzzles and problems you solve during your chess games help to sharpen your mind, thus giving you more power to think clearly when facing stressful situations outside of chess later in your day-to-day life.

Additionally, playing chess with friends can provide another stress relief by providing social interaction during moments of relaxation. You can take a few minutes away from work or school to play against someone else who shares this interest with you, possibly improving their mental state as well as yours!

Thanks for reading and I hope this has helped you better appreciate the benefits of chess. If you found this helpful, feel free to follow me: Charles Calzia for more articles like this.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store