If you’ve been within reach of a WiFi connection of late, chances are you’ve heard about Netflix’s latest hit – The Queen’s Gambit. The series is an absolute smash, despite (sorry to say it) chess sounding like a kind of dull focus point for a series.
Anyway, as a result of The Queen’s Gambit‘s success, folks are finding a newfound interest in chess and the benefits of playing such a game. Long sold as a competition of strategy and smarts, it is easy to assume that the game only appeals to particularly clever folks.
But there has been discussion about the possibility that it’s the playing of chess that sharpens your mind and strategic skills. Not the other way around.
So, I thought I’d take a deeper look to see what science, and specialists say.
Programmer and chess master Mansa Keita, chatted with Popular Mechanics about the benefits of playing chess. He shared that it “forces your mind to question its assumptions and to rework those assumptions in the moment”.
This, assumedly, would allow your brain to better assess situations and make better decisions.
The other point he made was that the game helps him “think my way through things methodically”. Another big bonus.
Where it gets really interesting is the studies on how chess players perform in academic circumstances. According to a widely-documented research program in New Brunswick from 1990-92, students who played chess were reported to have had better problem-solving abilities than those who did not play.
Could that just prove that kids who play chess are more inclined to be strategic thinkers? Yes. But it’s still interesting to think about.
There are loads of theories about the benefits of playing chess, and while none appear to be conclusively proven it does highlight that it certainly can’t hurt to play a game once in a while.
So if you ask me, make like a Queen and grab a board. Your brain may thank you one day. Or you could just sit back and watch The Queen's Gambit in awe.