Checkmate on Life: 5 Mental Benefits of Playing Chess

Posted on - in Health Inspiration
king piece in chess

It’s a game that requires strategic thinking, creativity, determination and even the ability to analyze the body language of your opponent: and these are just a few of the benefits of chess.

There’s a reason why it’s loved by the brightest of minds, although this might be a false correlation. It could be that highly intelligent people realize their brilliance because they exercise their minds by playing chess.

Quite frankly, the brain is like any muscle – the more you use it, the stronger it gets. Given how chess offers the chance to master strategy, solve problems with creativity and socially interact with others, it’s not wonder there are mental benefits of playing chess. Below are just five of them.

1. Boosts Dendrite Growth in the Brain (Like Adding RAM to a Computer Processor)

According to, chess actually stimulates the growth of dendrites in the brain.  Dendrites give neurons higher functioning capacity, which means that the growth of dendrites doesn’t necessarily increase brain power, but they help make use of the power your brain already possesses. It’s very similar to installing additional RAM in your computer’s processor, which helps it work faster and more efficiently, as well as handle more data than before.

Give your brain a regular chess workout routine, and you’ll be able to do some mental heavy lifting.

2. Increases Skill and Efficiency in Problem Solving

When the brain is able to crunch more data, then a person’s mental capacity and capabilities will naturally increase. For instance, public school administrators and teachers noticed a telling pattern when a chess program was introduced. In anecdotal cases, teachers have been quoted saying that math and reading scores have soared – and there were even fewer recorded altercations between angry students after school.

Problem solving is foundational in winning a game of chess – and if you’ve ever played it, then you’d probably agree that the game’s complexity makes quite a few of life’s other problems seem a bit easier to solve.

3. Builds Inner Confidence

Chess pits opponent against opponent in a struggle for strategic dominance and eventual victory. Essentially, the game teaches you to solve complex problems while battling an adversary. This is no single-player videogame. This means that every game will be different, unpredictable and will vary in the level of difficulty, even if you played the same opponent over and over again.

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That’s because there are 9 million unique positions from a third move in a game, so chess offers a true competition with infinite parameters. When you win, you’ll have won fair and square without question. That’s a great confidence booster for anybody.

4. Helps Treat Brain Ailments Like Schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s

When it comes to certain brain ailments, it’s becoming fairly clear that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In the case of warding off dementia, keeping the brain active is key.

Medical News Today stated that engaging in mentally intensive brain exercises, like chess, is recommended for keeping Alzheimer’s in check. This could have something to do with the growth of dendrites that I previously mentioned.

Chess has also been known to help doctors deal with other types of mental problems, such as schizophrenia. One foundational study experienced results suggesting that the game actually assisted in the patient’s treatment.

5. Stimulates Creative Thinking and Memory

If you want to win the game, you have to think outside the box. Studies have shown that chess greatly increases creative abilities, as it forces the player to consider, analyze and prioritize a wide variety of possibilities. You have to predict what your opponent could do, as well as figure out what you’re going to do next.

Because chess sparks a high level of creative stimulation, the brain will naturally enhance the development of this ability over time. The task of deconstructing the board in the mind, and reconstructing it the way you think it will look within a move or two, is not an easy one.

Chess is problem solving at its finest, and it’s also creatively coming up with a few for your opponent to deal with.

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Kayla Matthews writes Productivity Theory and is constantly seeking to provide new tips and hacks to keep you motivated and inspired! You can also find her on Huffington Post and Tiny Buddha, and follow her on Google+ and Twitter to stay up to date on her latest productivity posts!

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  1. Eric Conklin

    I like this! It’s also a great argument for playing games like Starcraft and Dota as well.

    Don’t know if you knew but speaking multiple languages also has the same anti alzheimers affect as well.

    5 years ago
  2. leeta lumpkins

    I want just one thing at a time to improve myself.

    5 years ago
    • Kayla Matthews

      Well chess could certainly be a good, single activity to focus on for self improvement if it’s something that interests you. =) Thanks for reading!

      5 years ago
  3. Prakash Grampurohit

    Totally true , The article is helpful

    4 years ago
  4. Give Your Brain a Workout with These 4 Memory Games | CEU Group

    […] with an actual physical chess board, it’s one of the best memory games out there you can play.  Chess increases your memory, attention span, concentration power and strategic ability.  It also helps to analyze problems […]

    4 years ago
  5. Dean Phillips

    I thought it was great how the article mentioned how teachers have been quoted saying that their students had soaring math and reading scores when they had been regularly playing chess. My daughter is almost out of school for the summer and she has been looking for an activity that will keep her entertained the entire time. I would love it if she participated in an activity that was fun and educational for her as chess is.

    11 months ago
    • Kayla

      Thank you for reading, Dean!

      11 months ago

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