Chess And The Brain | Learning To Out Think Others

Chess and the Brain

There’s a game you can play that helps you learn to get the edge on others! This skill will permeate to practically any area of thought or planning processes. It’s a practice that will teach you methods to advance, win, or overcome a situation where you have no choice but to fend for yourself. You will also learn to be a better team leader!

If this all sounds like a game worth playing, It would be a “wise move” to consider taking up the game of chess!

“A game of chess is like a sword fight, you must think first, before you move” – RZA/Wu Tang Clan

Chess and the brain correlate like fitness and the body. Both require their respective exercise. The more discipline and time we put in, the stronger we and our components become. The most advanced performers: in sports, entertainment, business, warfare, and family affairs, have a strong mind game through exercising their brain. Tenacity is a great asset, but can lead us right into despair without the foresight to properly utilizing it.

For example, you may be able to punch yourself out of a situation. But if a person knows you’re going to do that, and especially if you’re not Mike Tyson, most likely you’ll be throwing haymakers into the air. You’ll get defeated by your opponent once your energy depletes; or sooner, when he lands a crippling blow. As you lay flat looking to the sky in a daze, you’ll have no idea you’d been studied, profiled, and anticipated. You acted accordingly into educated presumptions, then were brought down to the ground through another’s will and actions.

As is with life, sometimes you will be looking to the sky through whatever defeat you encountered. When this happens: Reflect, use introspect, and gain the lesson to use next time; and towards whatever challenge is next. It’s all part of the process in learning to out think others. To be proficient in this skill we need to exercise the brain.

This, in essence, is the game of chess.

Learning The Rules Learning The Rules

The brain works like a computer processor. First we have to feed it information so it can begin formulating proper implementation for productive actions. In other words, we first have to know and understand how to operate in our environment before we make our move.

Chess works both sides of the brain. As is with body exercise, for more strength, keen balance, and optimizing performance, it is necessary to work out both sides of the brain as well.

  • Left brain = Object Recognition
  • Right brain = Pattern Recognition

Within various networks: business, sports, social, even brick and mortar structures (like a grocery store), there are set rules of operations. Once we understand the rules, we can start to interact with our environment and see what works and what doesn’t; figuring how to use the tools, calculating patterns, discovering routes, and various other possibilities to be more efficient or effective.

Chess will accelerate our ability in learning to absorb and act in these elements.

There are precise rules in chess on a set structure of operations (patterns). Pieces with various titles and powers can make specific moves assigned to their role (objects). All these procedures exercise the brain in incorporating visualization of the possibilities of moves and advancements. Directing and disciplining the brain to work within this set structure encourages and improves cognitive abilities*. This improves:

  • Perception
  • Motor Functions
  • Language
  • Visual/Spacial Processing
  • Executive Functions

*This is a physiological result of dendrite growth through brain stimulation from playing games like chess. Dendrites are short branched nerve cell extensions (mini computers in the brain). They send out electrical signals from the brain’s neuron cells. More dendrites = faster neural brain communication for optimized brain function.

Know Your Role And Prepare For Warfare

Chess teaches the brain foresight and planning. The Prefrontal cortex, associated with planning, decision-making, and complex cognitive behavior, is strengthened through the mental exercise chess provides. Judgment, self-control, and organizational skills become enhanced. This develops strategic thinking.

Let’s be upfront here. There is sometimes the problem of position dictating power. In this scenario, you can have the mental edge, but cannot exercise immediate action. For example, you can be a subordinate at your job. It can be very frustrating having to listen and acquiesce to a person not as intelligent, skilled, or qualified at tasks giving you directions. But as much as position can govern your action or response, we can learn to finesse or advance our position with proper foresight and planning.

Know Your Role

Chess improves memory. To out think an opponent, you need a strong mental reserve of information and recall ability. After you’ve learned, you must now remember each particular chess piece’s role and associated movements for the upcoming match. This practice sharpens mental clarity and prediction skills.

If you know how you are categorized and anticipated, you can use this to your advantage; calculating the probability of your opponents expectations and their moves. Your mind becomes a video study of your opponent. In addition, you become wired into his mind as well. Professional fighters, politicians, and football players study videos of their opponents before a match; preparing them for the upcoming challenge.

You can learn to take advantage of your opponents when knowing in advance and committing to memory how, or from which way, they’re going to approach, treat, or attack you.

Learn to be aware of your own patterns for growth and change as well. Create new useful attitudes, moves, or skills to confuse or fool your opponent in his anticipations. A new edge will be gained in the situation. When you know your role and what it takes to advance your position, you start making the necessary, calculated moves to win over the competition.

This all takes place on the chess board.

It’s Your Move. Roll With The Punches.

Chess increases Problem Solving Skills. To excel at chess you need unique skills. And the only way to achieve them are through experience and practice. Chess is a living, breathing, shifting puzzle. The variables and framework are constantly changing through you and your opponents moves. The ability to look at things from different perspectives is enhanced. On-the-spot thinking is challenged and decisions have to be made “on the fly.”

It’s now time to administer what we’ve learned through trial and error. Once we know the rules of the game, we start to participate and actively learn. This applies to our dating, business, street smarts, or any aspect of life where we need to adapt to a system and its workings.

In the service industry they call this “trial by fire. The new employee is thrown into the chaos of an event or crowd. Here, they prove whether they can learn and keep with the flow of the venue or not by: Roll With The Punches

  • Dealing with customers and their needs
  • Operating the order system (POS)
  • Coordinating drinks and food in a timely fashion
  • Keeping glassware and dining ware circulating
  • Handling cash and credit card transactions
  • Keeping their cool under all the pressure

Foresight, anticipation, and organizational skills really come into play in this scenario.

Playing chess sharpens wit and improvisational skills. The faster our memory recall becomes, the faster we can access the relevant material to apply to our current situation. Our ‘net speed’ processors may not be too fast initially. With enough practice, we can then upgrade the brain’s search engine to internet high-speed status.

In pursuit of the goal of being able to out think others, we have to participate in the set structures and activities to learn the applicable thoughts and moves in the operations. We will lose some battles along the way. It’s part of the learning process.

With chess practice, the capacity for sharp, fined tuned thought and strategies will increase and carry over into the other areas of our lives.

Focus On The Prize Focus On The Prize

Chess improves concentration. The brain is the tool from which the power of our concentration comes. Mind games help develop focus and concentration more than any other type of pastime. It is the result of this effective exercising of the brain through such games as chess.

Our competition, opponents, and life like to distract us. Improved concentration helps us keep focus of the task at hand. It raises our chances of follow through and effective implementation. Losing sight can make the difference in the outcome of a match, fight, or promotion. The benefits of being able to focus can strengthen our will. We develop a threshold to not bend to the influence of fleeting inaccurate emotions and inconsequential factors.

This is highly effective in all forms of debate.

These benefits range in people of all ages. School students who play chess statistically get higher scores. In an era where AD/HD is claimed to be an epidemic in classrooms, perhaps subscribing chess instead of prescribing Ritalin or Adderall would make more sense. If there is one area where focus is needed, it’s during test taking! Starting a child early on activities that promote advanced thinking will set them on a solid course of high mental aptitude; enhancing their ability to perform well on tests and out think their peers.

Those over 75 who practice mind games like chess are less likely to develop dementia. Getting started on mind games as soon as possible can help us stay of a strong mind into our Golden years (and remember our grand kids names and how they’re doing in school).

Chess helps us focus on the end in mind and what we need to do to get there.

Checkmate Checkmate

Chess is a mind upgrade system that we upload into our brain. Playing chess is more than just learning to have the mental edge on your opponent or out thinking them. It exercises the mind and boosts brain growth, which can heighten IQ. We can apply these skills and enhanced perceptions in our everyday life activities; from cooking in the kitchen to playing on the football field.

Taking up chess promotes lifelong mental health. The fitness trinity of mind, body, and spirit requires the upkeep of all three to be in tune and balanced. Mind games are the best training course for the brain. And we can’t become stronger unless we train.

On the chess board or on the battlefield, strategic thinking is necessary and learned through practice. If you realize all battles begin in the mind, then you take proper action to equip yourself with the right weapons and tools to win. Chess is one of the best mediums for learning to attain victory.



– Mark G

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10 thoughts on “Chess And The Brain | Learning To Out Think Others

    1. The app I use is “Chess Free.” There’s a computer mode for practice which I recommend for beginners. But it will get you started and it has the rules and some history on the app, so that’s pretty cool! Thanks for reading and I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  1. I love chess, I am just a rookie though. But I learned that the better your opponent is, the more your brain is working hard to figure out the next move. Always anticipating all the possible moves and where its going to. Interesting how the brain works, others may think its just chess but the skills you learn in playing doesn’t just apply to the game but to life itself. thumbs up to you!

    Thank you for sharing this. Now I miss playing chess 🙂


    1. Yes. It is quite the brain sparker! A lot of games, hobbies, practices transfer over to other aspects of our lives. Chess I feel does so pretty intensely. Thanks for your reply.

  2. Love Chess!

    However, I don’t know how to play chess but only Chinese chess (Xiangqi) when I was a kids. Always had lots of fun and tried my best to win. I think there are more similarities than differences. Both can train our brain, learn to be focus, teach planning and foresight because it will lose the game without thinking about the consequences! Same rules work for our life.

    It is not only just good for kids but for all ages!

    1. Chess is challenging and once you get going can be quite addictive. Therefore it can be an awesome time killer. I always like to keep my mind busy, that way I make the most of my time. Yes, it is good for all ages!

  3. I have been playing chess with my siblings and I have always lost your article has helped me understand the game. Your article has been tremendously helpful and I am grateful so thank you for sharing.

    1. Glad I could be of help. Chess is a strong brain workout for sure! Playing others that are more skilled is a faster way to get better; if you’re good at handling defeat. Otherwise, it could be very frustrating. It always helps to ask for tips and strategy insight. Good luck on being able to achieve victory over your siblings!

  4. My son doesn’t like sports very much but I want to make sure he isn’t turning his brain to mush not doing anything. That’s really neat that your child can get more emotional intelligence from playing chess and trying to understand the opponent’s perspective. With that being set, I will find him some online lessons so we can both practice it.

    1. Thank you Rob for your feedback and checking my article out! I appreciate it. Chess is a major brain exercise. It really takes work, focus, and training to get good for the average person. I continue to play and learn. It has been a slow process for me, but taking online lessons indefinitely would speed up the learning curve!

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