Chess really is a great game for anyone who enjoys the fun of trying to strategically outmaneuver an opponent. You often hear that playing chess can also actually make you smarter. This thought recently came to mind and so did a desire to find the answer. Does playing chess make you smarter? The answer might surprise you because this is a topic that researchers have been investigating.
Does Chess Make You Smarter?
There is evidence to suggest that playing chess can make a person smarter. This is a topic that has been debated at length and there is still much research that needs to be done to provide a definitive answer. At the same time, some studies suggest that playing chess can make you smarter.
Many of these studies looked at how playing chess can benefit children and make them smarter. Chess might also have some interesting effects on the gray matter of your brain.
In What Ways Could Chess Possibly Make You Smarter?
The question does playing chess make you smarter is one that brings up some other topics that are directly related. When you look into the subject you quickly find that there have been some academic studies that have looked into the matter.
Since intelligence is a broad category that covers a lot of different areas, it seems like it is worth investigating some more specific questions related to chess and intelligence. This includes questions about the effect that chess has on memory, IQ, and the brain’s gray matter. All of these are primary factors that are related to how intelligent you are. It is definitely worth looking into how playing chess might impact them and so that is what we are going to do. Let us take a look at the following:
- Does Chess Improve Memory?
- Does Chess Increase IQ (and Intelligence)?
- Does Playing Chess Increase Gray Matter?
Finding the answers to these questions will provide a much more satisfactory answer to the main question about whether or not playing chess makes you smarter. This breakdown really does help to demonstrate why chess is a game that can actually help you to become smarter when you play it regularly.
Does Chess Improve Memory?
There is a lot of data that links playing the game of chess with a memory improvement. The game has been shown to be beneficial to overall brain function and improved memory is one of the many benefits that come along with this. Scientific studies on the topic of chess and memory even found that it can help to slow the onset of debilitating brain conditions like Alzheimer’s disease.
One of the conclusions that scientific studies have reached on how chess helps with memory is related to the amount of time that an individual spends at the chessboard. Simply playing chess by itself is not going to necessarily give anyone a boost in their ability to remember things. What seems to be the case is that constant repetition on the chessboard helps players to better remember when they need to employ specific strategies based on the exact situation that they are in. In other words, if you are someone who is dedicated to improving your chess game, a boost in your memory abilities in everyday life could end up being a welcome added benefit.
It looks to be the case that this memory boost at the chessboard ends up translating to real life. Many chess players who spend a lot of time honing their craft will end up finding that their memory is better in other areas of life as well. This includes academic pursuits and personal commitments in day-to-day life.
Though this benefit might seem surprising to some, it really does make sense when one thinks about it. It is also a benefit that is hard to argue with. Chess is already a great game but its ability to boost intelligence factors like memory really is another great reason to play it.
Does Chess Increase IQ
Does Chess Increase IQ (and Intelligence)?
Does chess increase IQ (and intelligence)? This really is a question that gets to the heart of the matter regarding this overall topic. There are a lot of interesting studies that have been conducted on this and they reveal some strong evidence to suggest that you can get an IQ and intelligence boost when you play chess on a regular basis and work diligently to improve your game.
One study that was conducted in the Philippines focused on the effect that playing chess has on performance in mathematics. The researchers wanted to look at the connection between chess performance and performance in mathematics.
From the beginning, they noted that there is existing literature that has demonstrated that playing a lot of chess can help a person’s analytical ability and it can make them a better problem solver. The problem-solving nature of the game of chess ends up translating to real-world situations in a similar way that chess memory ends up helping to improve day-to-day memory.
The Philippines study that looked at the connection between mathematics and chess noted that the game requires constant critical thinking. It also requires the ability to do computations regarding the likelihood of a specific move producing a desirable result. It is easy to see how this has a lot of carry-over when it comes to the topic of mathematics. It is definitely one of the most interesting examples within the topic of chess and intelligence.
Another one of the most interesting areas of study in this topic of playing chess and getting a boost in intelligence is how it positively affects children. A 1977 Dutch study looked into this topic and concluded that chess does actually make kids smarter.
This study looked at 40 school children. Half of these kids were taught the game of chess on 42 Friday afternoons across two years. The other half of the study group was utilized as the control group.
The results of this study really were incredible. When given tests that focused on cognitive development, the 20 kids that had spent significant time learning the game of chess scored better than the control group. Beyond this, the chess-playing school children demonstrated a notable improvement in their overall school testing results compared to the kids in the control group.
Another study that was conducted in 2000 in Sydney, Australia focused on making a case that the game of chess is one of the best tools available for developing the minds of children. It took a look at the way that teaching kids chess could potentially increase IQ scores. The study also looked at how chess can strengthen intelligence-related areas such as problem-solving and independent thinking.
Other areas of focus included the connection between chess and the development of logic and creative thinking. One of the most interesting things about this study was how it looked into the ability that chess has to not only challenge children that are gifted but also to help underachieving students in overcoming their challenges.
The results of the Australian study from 2000 were mirrored closely in a study conducted in 2016 and published in the Journal of Psychology. This paper once again noted that the study of the game of chess in a systematic fashion can boost exam and IQ scores for students.
These various studies all showed that there were positive IQ and intelligence benefits that came along with consistently playing the game of chess. It certainly seems that this is another convincing reason to consider getting your kids involved in chess at a young age.
Does Chess Increase Gray Matter
It seems only natural to take a look at whether or not playing chess has an effect on the actual gray matter of the brain. This gray matter really is crucial to how your brain functions. It is where most of the neuronal cell bodies of the brain are. The regions of your brain that are included within gray matter are the ones that control key intelligence aspects like memory, and decision making. What is really interesting is that it appears chess has a positive effect on your brain’s gray matter as well.
Medical studies that have focused on this topic of gray matter and chess have found that chess players tend to have more active frontal and parietal areas within the brain. These are the areas that specialize in problem-solving. Beyond this, these studies have indicated that chess players utilize both sides of their brains more than non-chess players.
The game of chess requires careful calculations that are made in the brain’s right side while it also requires the ability to make logical moves. This is something that is controlled by the left side of the brain. In other words, chess players appear to be making a more complete use of their brain’s gray matter. Playing chess does not physically increase the amount of gray matter present but it does appear to have an effect on a person’s ability to fully utilize the gray matter that they have.