Chess is a game which requires you to think. This means that playing chess exercises your brain. In fact, playing chess has been shown to increase brain growth. The brain consists of millions of nerve cells called neurons. These cells all connect to each other by means of branches called dendrites. The more of these dendrite connections you have the more developed your brain is. The fact is that exercising the brain by completing challenging activities results in increased growth of these dendrites. Communication among nerve cells in the brain becomes better and faster with practice, and chess is a game that helps this process to occur.
Exercising Your Brain
Studies have also shown that chess exercises more than the left side of the brain. The left side of the brain is involved in logic and reasoning, which you would expect to be stimulated by an activity such as chess. However, the three-dimensional shapes of the chess pieces also stimulate the artistic side of the brain, the right side of the brain. Research on children in the 7th, 8th and 9th grade in school has also shown that chess increases creativity in the brain. This is another function of the right side of the brain.
Playing chess has even been linked to increases in intelligence when measured as IQ. Studies on children have shown a rise in IQ after only a couple of months of playing chess. This could be because playing chess requires a great deal of problem-solving and reasoning; two factors that are measured by IQ tests. Increased problem-solving ability also leads to better student performance in school. In fact, researchers have found that students who played chess tended to score higher on school standardized tests than students who had not played chess. In fact, children who learn to play chess also do better in reading than children who do not learn to play it.
Improved Skills and Memories
Children and teenagers need to learn to make good decisions and judgments. These critical thinking skills are hard to teach in school. Chess can help to teach this, as children and teenagers need to make decisions based on the information that is available when they are playing chess. Chess should not only be played by children. Adults too can benefit and possibly decrease the chances of developing dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease.
It is possible that exercising the brain keeps it stronger. Playing chess increases your memory. This is probably because a person has to remember the complex rules that underlie the game. Furthermore, playing chess can help people recover from a disabling brain injury such as a stroke. The intense concentration needed can help to distract a person and relax them. Moving the chess pieces can also help a person to practice their fine motor skills. Therapy can include having patients move the pieces in different directions, lift pieces up and put them down again. Chess has even been used to treat patients with schizophrenia. Such patients seemed to show improvements after playing chess.