Chess and the brain (how to keep your mind sharp!)

Find the mate

Have you ever had a bad day? A day where nothing feels like it’s going your way? You can’t make sense of things you normally would? I think we all have had one of these days…

Which is why keeping a sharp mind is so important!

Let’s have a look at the topic, and some ways to solve some issues! And obviously we will have a close look at why chess and the brain go so well hand-in-hand!

 

Not feeling too bright this morning…

Everybody feels rough in the mornings sometimes

Well, not to worry: You’re not the only one who’s woken up on the wrong side of the bed once in a while… 😉 But that doesn’t mean it needs to stay that way for the most of the day!

I like to have a routine in the morning, as that makes it easier to get through not being able to open my eyes…which can actually be the case sometimes! Getting in the shower right away makes me feel better no matter how I felt just a couple of minutes ago. (You might have thought of a shower as step 1 before I “revealed” this, but bare with me…)

That said, I also do one thing before hitting the shower: Turn the coffee machine on! I’m a coffee junkie, and there’s a chance I’m not the only one out there… But to me coffee is more about endulgance rather than caffeine. I just love the taste of coffee in the morning!

So, shower and coffee is my “secret trick” – what’s yours? Not too much of a revelation thus far, but here comes what I wouldn’t expect too many others to do:

I play a game of chess!

While I’m on the couch with my coffee, I simply whip out my phone, fire up the chess app and get my brain working! Now I feel truly ready to face the day!

I am ready for the day!

 

Bringing it to the kids

After my morning routine, it’s off to work. Since my profession is teaching, I love to bring puzzles, mazes and other problems to the kids I’m meeting every day. And they love it too! The kids want to learn, and they love to twist their brains in order to sort a certain problem out. Especially if they can do it faster than their friends… 😉

And I believe this is important (why else would I do it…?), as the plasticity of a youngster’s brain let’s them form new connections at such a speed a grown-up could just dream of! This might be a bit of an exaggeration, but they definitely have the upperhand on the older generation here, just have a look at Jay N. Giedd’s thoughts on the issue.

Just look at how kids and young adults grow physically and just naturally get better at… ANYTHING, like sports. They get bigger, faster, jump higher, get more control over their body.

The same applies to the brain! Obviously you can still learn things at an older age, and you can become a quite decent chess player, but you will never see the next world chess champion having learnt the rules of chess at the age of 30. Or 20.

Or even 15!

Every world champion has started his chess journey well before they turned 10!

I say this only to emphasize the importance of stimulating the brain at an early age.

Which brings us back to why I like to employ problems and puzzles on kids, in order for their brains to grow.

 

Activate your brain on a regular basis

There are so many options out there for how to stimulate your brain. I’m obviously bias here, so I always suggest chess as the way to go. And not only for the tactical and strategical skills it will develop, but also for all the other life lessons you will get through chess.

I was quite an active kid, and some might even call me wild and unstoppable. But chess taught me to sit down, calmly consider my options, and think before acting! I am so glad I learnt this, because this is a skill set I can still make use of today:

  • I can think situations through without making a rash decision.
  • I keep calm.
  • I look for alternatives to solve things.

Some might say that anybody can do this, and to some extent, that’s true. But I still believe I’m much better at this than what I would have been without chess.

 

Keep your brain active

Your brain needs rest from time to time too, but make sure you use it as well! Make sure to stay sharp!

  • Play games with your kids and friends.
  • Solve a puzzle or problem once in a while, just for the fun of it, not only because you’re told to.
  • Challenge yourself through learning a new skill.
  • Play chess!
  • And finish off this read by solving this puzzle:

Find the mate

 

I hope this inspired you in some way, either by making you want to go and learn how to play chess or get better at it, or just by making sure you keep your brain healthy in other ways!

Let me know what you liked or what suggestions you might want to add this list.

And let me know the answer to the puzzle above! 😉

 

For a healthy brain,

Joachim

 

 

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