Checkmate on Life: 5 Mental Benefits of Playing Chess

December 6, 2014 • Rehack Team


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.

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.