The Value Of Chess
It's no secret that chess is a game of intellect, played by smart and logical people, who refine their reasoning skills through playing this very game. However, many if not most people are acutely unaware of the significant benefits that chess can provide, beyond helping you reason. Playing chess can benefit your health, your education and your work performance. It can also provide practical skills that can be applied to everyday life.
Beyond your personal circumstances, chess also has value in society. For many, many years it has been played competitively and socially. In certain countries, chess is also a compulsory subject, that students must take alongside Math and English. The value of chess is varied and, in some circumstances, indisputable. Below we identify and look in detail at some of the reasons as to why, exactly, this game is so important in today's society.
Chess: An Asset Through The Ages
Chess is an ancient activity, that can be traced nearly 1500 years into the past. Former societies recognized the value of chess, and for this reason, it continued to remain relevant for hundreds of years. Many philosophers, scientist and mathematicians throughout the last 500 years have ties to chess- and for good reason. Many studies suggest there is a significant link between analytical thinking and chess. As scientific and philosophical subjects rely on critical analysis, chess is therefore an important tool that can be used to 'train' the mind.
A prime example of how chess was of great value, and still is, in academia is Emanuel Lasker. This mathematician and philosopher, who rose to prominence in the early 20th century, was also a world chess champion. He was so passionate, and determined to prove the value of chess, that he dedicated years of his life writing about the game from a philosophical perspective. He published 'Lasker's Manual of Chess' which is particularly noted for its philosophical approach to the game. He viewed chess as a "struggle of minds" and as a game of ethics. This had a significant impact on how chess was regarded in society, as it was therefore viewed as more than just a 'game', and perhaps a reflection of the people playing it. This was very valuable to both chess players and the world in general.
Chess in Education
In Armenia, chess is compulsory in schools. This was instituted in 2011, when the government decided to make chess classes a permanent part of state curriculums. This has proven very effective in making Armenia one of the strongest chess countries in the world. It has one of, if not the highest, number of chess grandmasters of any nation. There were two primary reasons as to why chess was made compulsory. For one, Armenia has a rich history of chess playing. Dating back to the middle ages, it was one of the country's most played activities, and to date- chess grandmasters are viewed as celebrities in this small country.
The second reason as to why chess is now a core component of Armenian education, is because the government felt it was "character building". According to various reports, officials felt that chess instilled a sense of "organization" and "responsibility" in students. This, in turn, is believed to benefit their approach to schoolwork and education. Armenia is the first country to create a compulsory chess element in their education system, but it probably won't be the last. Outspoken experts in countries such as England have called for compulsory chess in primary and elementary schools. They believe that learning to play chess at a young age will "boosts concentration levels, numeracy and reading comprehension".
Regardless, most schools across the western world have extra curricular chess clubs available to their students, and this is viewed as a very effective way to make chess more sociable. Through clubs, students can learn to play the game and build communication skills, and if they play in teams- they can also learn invaluable lessons in leadership and teamwork. The value of chess in education is clear, and likely to become more prominent in the future.
The Health Benefits of Chess
Most people wouldn't view chess as an activity that is particularly beneficial to their health. After all, it's a game that is played both sat down and inside for long periods of time. However, many studies indicate that chess can improve the health of your brain and your mind. While it may not provide any physical benefits, like a workout, it can definitely improve your 'health' in general.
The Albert Einstein College conducted a study on the benefits of chess, and the results showed that regular chess playing can help deter Alzheimers later in life, by boosting memory and cognitive skills. It's also widely believed that chess helps exercise both sides of the brain, which is key, as most people only use specific parts of the brain during day to day activities. Keeping your brain exercised is important in keeping you alert, and helping you reason well into the future. Like Sudoku and other puzzles, chess is viewed as a great way of deterring the inevitable effects of aging- and therefore has a lot of value in society.
Chess is also believed to help alleviate the symptoms of schizophrenia. This is a mental health disorder that results in people suffering from changes in behavior, hallucinations and delusions. Various studies conducted by a number of governmental bodies showed that schizophrenia patients that played chess regularly exhibited more reasoning and planning skills. Chess was so valuable to them that most participants in the study said they would probably keep playing regularly, as they felt it truly benefited for them. For these reasons, chess is viewed as very valuable in society, particularly as those in the medical profession try to move toward more holistic approaches to mental conditions- and look for ways to avoid potentially harmful drugs.
Chess In The Workplace
This is a little unconventional, and most people wouldn't associate chess with work environments. However, in recent years, a number of companies have arisen that offer 'chess playing services' to corporate offices. The idea is simple. You recruit a company to come to your offices and teach your employees how to play chess, and how to play it well.
This is somewhat of an unorthodox approach, but a very effective one nonetheless. Professions that rely on their employees being organized, attentive and analytical can certainly benefit from providing workers with chess lessons. Chess can help professionals think more logically and act more rationally under stress. When played in groups or as teams, chess can also help build team working skills, which can in turn benefit an office as a whole.
If you're a student, and looking to enter the workforce, then you may consider joining a chess club while in college or at University. It may seem far fetched, but some employers do actively look for chess club membership, because it not only demonstrates a range of interests and a willingness to try new activities- but it also shows that you're well versed in analytical games and are a trained critical thinker. These are skills highly in demand by potential employers, and more and more jobseekers are looking to build their resumes with activities such as chess. As previously discussed, joining a chess club also demonstrates superior social skills and a trained ability to work in a team. These are two further abilities that will set you apart from other competitors.
The Value of Chess: It's Real
All of the studies mentioned above provide solid evidence as to why chess is valuable in society, and has been for hundreds of years. However, even without any empirical evidence, the value of chess is clear. The easiest way to appreciate how valuable chess is, is to look at how old it is, and how this simple (yet very complex) game has withstood the test of time.
While technology comes and goes, new board games replace old past times and the world evolves- chess remains a constant. It's therefore logical to assume that chess has some value, and contributes in someway to the world, for it to have lasted so long. Chess benefits your health, your education and your work performance. It takes a very holistic approach to bettering your life as a whole, and is therefore an invaluable addition to it.
If you're considering playing chess, then hopefully these benefits will sway you. Either way, chess is a wonderful pastime and a recreational game fit for a range of interests and skills. So if nothing else, you can value the fact that chess is a wonderful cure for boredom, and an excellent way to pass the time on a rainy afternoon.