I love playing chess.
I play online.
I am in love with chess.
I have played at least a dozen games every day for the past two years.
I believe that chess is very similar to conversation in many ways.
Let me explain.
Me & Chess
I am enjoying chess for many different reasons. When I started revisiting chess, most games were about thinking about moves for a long amount of time in order to come up with the best moves. But then I realized that the game of chess is not entirely about that. Chess is not about coming up with the best move; it’s about remembering a set of moves that then could lead to an increased likelihood for you to win. That can take away from the experience of chess depending on what you expected in the first place, but it doesn’t have to.
Another aspect of chess is the fact that it’s almost guaranteed to result in a different game every time no matter how many times you try the same set of moves.
For someone to say: ‘Read Aristotle’s “Nicomachean Ethics” and you will understand the concept of Virtue Ethics’ you have to assume a LARGE sum of premises all attached to one controlling thought: people expect someone to understand something in precisely the same way as you do. That is why having conversations is personal & comforting.
If you are to play a game of chess, you will be given a copious amount of plays all of which are dependent on factors that are out of your control. It is in that sense similar to regular thought since most thought arises due to things that we cannot affect. Being aware of this alleviates unnecessary conversations. Some things, therefore, are rarely worth discussing since they depend on a mutual agreement on the fundamentals. There are good reasons to listen to public discourse, however, but that is not exactly what I’m talking about here. Public discourse presupposes that the debaters are an appropriate appeal to authority. Hence, discussion is meant to result in others forming an opinion based on the results of the debate. Private discourse presupposes very little since it expects the recipient to understand what you say automatically.
Discussion is needed. But, as with chess, if you don’t know the best handful of moves in response to E4, your likelihood of stumbling upon the best responding moves each subsequent turn diminishes until you no longer have a good game.
Memorizing good moves is therefore essential to the game.
The same applies to conversation. Thought arises because of things that are out of control. In chess you similarly must respond to things that are completely out of your control.
However, certain studies have shown that chess has benefits as well.
One article has argued that chess helps,
(1) grow dentries: boosts communication within the brain
(2) exercises both sides of the brain
(3) helps prevent Alzheimer's disease
(4) helps treat schizophrenia
(5) helps with rehabilitations, and other.
Another article has stated more obvious effects of playing chess, such as problem-solving, building confidence, and creativity. However, these seem to be related to other factors as well. In the end, many other activities will help you problem-solve, arguably most will be able to do that whilst contributing to real-life skills (plumbing, management, relationships, etc.).
One article argue
d that chess can even boost your IQ. I would not be so quick to agree with this one, mind you. From my little understanding of the literature on the topic, few things raise IQ. Exercise can prevent the loss of IQ. However, I have not heard of activities that are able to raise IQ.
Furthermore, chess can help improve reading comprehension and optimizes memory:
In an oft-cited 1991 study, Dr. Stuart Margulies studied the reading performance of 53 elementary school students who participated in a chess program and evaluated them compared to non-chess-playing students in the district and around the country. He found definitive results that playing chess caused increased performance in reading. In a district where the average students tested below the national average, kids from the district who played the game tested above it. Source.
To add unto that:
A study of Pennsylvania sixth-graders found that students who had never before played chess improved their memories and verbal skills after playing. Source.
Hopefully, I’ve persuaded you to start playing chess.
There’s an obvious benefit to it.
If you do, be sure to “send me a game”.
I’m on lichess and my username is: jakublearns (the same as my Instagram username).
Before you go…
I’d love if you’d share the article on Facebook/TWITTER if you want your friends to benefit from it in some way at all.
I write to keep you thinking and to keep me thankful and reflective. Cheers and until next time,