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8 Incredible Reasons Why Chess Really Makes You Smarter

Fernando is a millennial writer, natural philosopher, and Engineer looking to reinterpret social subtleties and add value.

The pawn with a crown on his head. Pawns love promotion into queens and other pieces such as rook, knight, and bishop.

The pawn with a crown on his head. Pawns love promotion into queens and other pieces such as rook, knight, and bishop.

I don’t know about you, but I love chess. Interestingly, I’m not amazing at it. Regardless, I’ve found some appreciation in the game. So, does chess really make you smarter?

Chess is more than just a board game; it’s a story. The game may be difficult to master but is easy to play. And the stories the game holds only get better.

Today, I want to discuss and share with you the benefits I have noticed in my life from playing chess.

Why Chess Makes You Smarter

  1. Chess Gives You Patience
  2. Chess Opens Your Eyes
  3. Chess Opens Your Strategic Mind
  4. Chess Teaches You to Value
  5. Chess Teaches You to Think Ahead
  6. Chess Encourages Investing
  7. Chess Enforces Courage
  8. Chess Helps You Learn to Not Give Up

1. Chess Gives You Patience

I’ve learned to be patient. I used to find myself fidgeting and ready to make a quick decision. Nowadays, I recollect myself and weigh out options before making optimal decisions.

You see, whether in the game or in life, every dog has his day. Meaning, you won’t entirely win in every occasion. Regardless, you try. And with failure, comes improvements.

I’ve failed so many times that I’ve finally told myself, “maybe if I think the situation through and wait a little, I might find opportunity.”

There’s more to winning than just ‘winning’. You win as soon as you learn to become patient – and I don’t mean winning in the game. That’s not what life’s about.

2. Chess Opens Your Eyes

At first, I didn’t understand what tactics were. I always though strategy and tactics were in and of the same. But they aren’t. I was wrong and quickly cleared my misconceptions.

A tactic is a short-term plan for a specific problem. In a real-world street fight, tactics are your quick-and-dirty methods to win the fight. If it works, it works. But just because it worked doesn’t mean it was the best tactic.

Tactical vision is being fully aware of the situation at hand and weighing out all possible tactical options – and finding the best one for the given moment. UFC fighters, for example, are incredible tacticians.

Unfortunately, every activity has different tactics associated with them. But the lesson is all the same. The moral of the story is chess has helped me appreciate that.

3. Chess Opens Your Strategic Mind

Unlike tactics, strategy is all about long-term goals. Whether you like to use your left or right hand for a given activity is strictly strategical in nature – only you know which would be better for you. Same goes for which foot you kick with. Perhaps you’re stronger with your right leg but are far more accurate with your left leg.

Strategy is found anywhere – in football, soccer, basketball, boxing, professional fights, and even in derby races.

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Chess has allowed me to appreciate that strategies come in all different shapes and sizes. Just like on parenting strategy is incorrect, there is always an optimal one. But life doesn’t shame you for making an inaccuracy, either!

4. Chess Teaches You to Value

In chess, pieces have value. Some pieces are more valuable than others – that’s true. However, apart from the numerical system is the fluctuations in value.

Just like a screwdriver and a prybar have their uses, chess pieces have their initial values. But, what’s increasingly important is understanding that when the situation changes, so does the value they bring to the table.

Would you really bring a knife to a gunfight? Daunting but truthful question. But here’s a better question: if a knife is a stronger weapon than a shoe, why is it so hard to kill a cockroach with a knife?

Although a knife has more value as a weapon than a shoe, the knife loses to the cockroach. The shoe gains value in this situation.

The same principle holds true for chess. And because of that, I’ve learned that everything in life has its moments. In fact, I can even argue that being there for people around you, at the right time, can mean more than when they’re timed at the wrong times.

Thanks, chess!

5. Chess Teaches You to Think Ahead

Let's say your significant other is upset at you because you forgot to turn off the stove. Let's just say that. Well, the next time the opportunity arises you'll probably find yourself turning off the stove. This, my friends, is looking ahead of the game.

Silly interpretation, but it does the job.

Or, let’s say someone close to you is having a bad day. Instead of asking them how they’re feeling, you have a feeling they’re going to want to approach the fridge to make something to eat. So, you buy that person a cake with their name on it!

Looking ahead is a necessary skill. Although chess has it quite linear – after all, life is dynamic and not static like the board game – it’s a good skill to have. Make predictions and watch the quality of life of you and everyone around you increase.

6. Chess Encourages Investing

Speaking of looking ahead of the game, this is a good investment strategy.

In general, whether you believe it or not, chess is chock-full of opportunities for investment. Giving up a little to win more, practicing patience for a better outcome – it’s full of investments.

Chess is full of counter-intuitive moves that just don’t make sense. But, sometimes, they become a great investment that turns the tides later. Who doesn’t like good dividends?

7. Chess Enforces Courage

So, you take your child to the store. If you walk too far, they think they’re lost. Now, the child is crying.

Sometimes, you’re too afraid to be alone. We all get it. Sometimes, life feels safer with others.

Chess has taught me courage to stand alone – to man up and make decisions and carry on with my decisions until the end.

Sometimes, the situation feels threatening. But, the frameworks of the game force you to stay committed until the end, regardless of what mistakes you’ve made. The game teaches you that you may still win if you’re that determined.

8. Chess Helps You Learn to Not Give Up

One of the greater benefits that I’ve received from playing chess is not giving up. Regardless of how hard the situation is, or how much you are suffering – “don’t give up”. The worst that can happen is you lose. Or make a few more mistakes. We learn from those.

Chess Teaches Valuable Life Lessons

Chess has truly taught me a lot about myself and about life around me. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that chess will solve all your problems. But I can highly agree that it has changed my life.

With that said, I challenge you to play and learn a little chess to see how it changes you. You never know – perhaps you’ll pick up a thing or two like I did!

There is only one king in any army. This king is a lonely king.

There is only one king in any army. This king is a lonely king.

So you have promoted a pawn. Let's say you had to pick a favorite piece, regardless of its value.

© 2017 Ferny Vise


Sara Lance on July 30, 2020:

Let’s start with the obvious. Chess is mentally stimulating. Exercising your brain is important for improving cognition. Informal studies suggest that students who major in especially difficult areas, such as philosophy or mathematics, perform better on the LSAT – the exam required for entrance into law school. Just as math and logic serve lawyers well in the courtroom as they fashion their arguments, so, too, is it with chess players on the chessboard as they make their moves. Chess develops concentration, increases patience and positively affects the intellectual and emotional development. It trains the player to look for ways of defeating the opponent. It is the best tool to teach your kids everything. I really can recommend a book, which is very good to teach kids how to play chess, writen by Makism Aksanov (net-bossorg/chess-puzzles-for-kids-by-maksim-aksanov). it's very easy to teach with all the fun and play, and make with this game a very rich, fantasy world for our kids :)

Chad Crouch from South Africa on August 22, 2017:

Very well-written articles!

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