It’s widely known that the ill effects of aging come with many consequences. As well as our much beloved outside appearance that deteriorates as skin cells become inactive, our brain cells also begin to deplete as the years go by. Fortunately, there are ways to ward off these unwanted events, staying active keeps our bodies in shape and our systems activated; the same goes for our brains. Activities and games that challenge our minds are great ways to keep our grey matter in top shape. In a game like chess we are constantly learning as our brains engage in several activities at once, this helps form new neurological connections, which in a sense are the opposite of what happens in brain aging. Regular chess sessions can therefore keep diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s at bay (as these commonly occur in degrading brains), as we continue to exercise our minds.
Chess Improves Memory
Another thing that we really wish we could hold onto as we get older is of course our memory. Studies say that our brains actually don’t forget information, instead our ability to retrieve it becomes so ineffective it is as if we have forgotten things entirely. As chess players strategically prepare for moves ahead of time, each ‘path’ must be remembered if they are to capitalise on the coming moments. Being able to retain and recall several items at once is a fantastic method for keeping your brain in shape and conse
quently pumps up your memory muscles along the way.
Chess Keeps Us Creative
After a handful of moves each chess game diverges from being the same as previous games and enters a stream of ever changing possibilities. One specific talent that grandmasters have, and others hope to learn; is the ability to adapt your play to any combination of moves. When getting played into a corner, a good player will figure out not one, but multiple routes out, this is non-linear path of thought is an exercise in creativity. ‘Thinking outside of the box’ is the popular saying that relates to how truly creative thinking does away with conventional patterns and norms and draws ideas from somewhere completely different. Chess players who execute moves using this type of thought will no doubt take their opponents by surprise, but interestingly studies show that all players will eventually become more adept at tackling day to day problems with a more leftfield approach.
Chess Grows Dendrites
These are tree-like branches that pick up electrical signals inside your brain. They work very similar to antennae and are important in the transfer of these signals from one part of the brain to the other. Growing the number of dendrites and increasing their size can positively affect our ability to learn, memorise information, make judgments and even effects behaviours such as self-control. All these actions take place during a single game of chess at one point or another, which is no doubt why the game is so effective at bolstering these important, fortifying parts of our brain.