Before the second U.K. lockdown in the winter of 2020/21, I had never won a game of chess. My father had taught me how to play as a child and then gone on to beat me and then explain how he beat me every game. As you can imagine I quickly went off chess and on to video games which were much more friendly and gave me a ‘congratulations’ every time I’d beat a level. I grew up only playing a little chess and losing every game. Then came covid, and zoom calls and staying indoors. One day I’m on a video chat with a friend and we’re looking for something to do and we stumble upon a website called chess.com.
Chess.com matches you with players from around the world and does so by rank. This means you will always be playing someone who is roughly at your skill level. Every time you play you’ll be able to feel fairly confident in your ability to win the game and this made all the difference for me. I downloaded their app on my phone and I’ve played the game pretty much every day since.
As I’ve been getting better and better at Chess I realise that there is so much to learn from this game and I’d like to tell you about the benefits the game can bring to your life.
Chess helps you to improve your problem-solving skills. I’m talking about your ability to confront challenges you face in life strategically. In chess, there are more possible games than there are stars in the night sky. This means that no matter how practised you are you will confront problems you have never faced before. In chess, the only way out of such problems is to think about the moves you have to make and the consequences of those moves. When you act appropriately you will avoid danger, if you miss something you can make things harder for yourself. Slowly this has changed the way I confront problems in life. I am able to take a more measured tactical approach to challenges weighing up the risk with the strategy for a better chance at success.
I recently became aware that through playing Chess I’ve started to be able to think ahead in a more focused way, seeing possible problems and solutions in my life before they occur. This is at the heart of how to win at chess. Being able to see the pieces developing on the board and neutralising possible threats. Not dissimilar from learning to see life unfolding around you. This has made planning for the future feel calmer and more thought out than it has been in the past for me. I feel, in this way, chess can quite profoundly change how much of your reality you can see. You are able to look further into the future and have a clearer idea of what is coming around the corner.
We all like to win and I can tell you if you haven’t experienced it there is no better feeling than winning a competitive game of chess. You feel smart, capable and invigorated by the mental stimulation. Losing at chess is another matter. You can feel stupid, foolish and it’s easy in this state to get angry with yourself, the person you’re playing or even the game. I think that one of the gifts of playing a lot of chess is that you lose a lot and you learn to take those losses with dignity. To be humbled by a defeat rather than insulted by it. You see that being beaten means that there is more room for you to learn and grow and that is a good thing. This translates directly to how you conduct yourself in the trials and tribulations of life. Being able to take failure well and learn from it will give you a happier, healthier and ultimately more successful life.
And let’s not forget that playing chess is a great way to socialise and meet people. Joining a weekly or monthly chess club can be a great way for you to meet new people your age and hang out regularly. If you’re interested in joining a chess club or maybe even hosting your own, the Sense Social app will be a great place to get started. Why not try and see if there is a chess club open near you?