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Chess, a mental sport for life

Chess is training for the real game we face, life. A mental sport that helps us reinvent ourselves in the face of defeats, develop memory, handle stress or delay aging.

The chess it is a mental sport that has always been considered very useful and recommended for everyone. However, the wide range of techniques and tools it can provide us remains an unknown issue for many.

In an interview with EFEsalut, María Rodrigo Yanguas, health psychologist and president of the Women and Chess Commission of the Spanish Chess Federation (FEDA)tells us a “Don’t be fooled” (HarperCollins Publishing) as the techniques of psycho chess it helps us deal with day-to-day life, in addition to the benefits it offers.

A school of life

“Chess is considered a sport, an art, a science, but, above all, one school of life“, says the author.

A sport because of competitiveness; an art due to the creation involved in each of the games; and a science due to the fact that it is used as a research tool in different areas.

“I would add that it is life because of the lessons, the learning and the experiences it gives us when we practice it”, says the psychologist.

For María Rodrigo, chess breaks all barriers and this is precisely its magic. It doesn’t understand ages, genders, or language. It is a game that is based on simple rules, but that requires all the brain machinery to practice it.

According to the psychologist, chess is a tool of cognitive training that helps us stay focused, solve problems, plan and control our impulses.

But also a tool a emotional level that helps you connect with yourself, with which we learn to win, but also to lose. To tolerate frustration in the face of defeat, to cultivate resilience, to know ourselves and to manage our emotions (nerves, fear, tranquility).

Chess and its techniques for everyday life

Technical chess book
EFE/Ainoa Ros

Chess provides a number of learnings which can be translated into the different situations we experience in our day to day life.

The author makes one metaphor between the chessboard and life. The pieces are the decisions we make and the opponent represents the difficulties we encounter.

“When we move a piece, we make a decision, and when the move is made, there is no going back. As in life, we are responsible for the movements we make and therefore for their consequences”, he explains to EFEsalut.

The impulsivity is also present. We must learn that rushing can lead to receiving one “checkmate” in different vital aspects.

Thus, chess generates techniques that help us establish our own targets and to take into account that there is an adversary, the lifewhich will introduce difficulties beyond our control.

It also reflects that sometimes we win and sometimes we lose and it is in failure that real learning resides.

Therapeutic chess

“Therapeutic chess is based on mental strengthening, the experience and learning of emotions and, all of this, imbuing oneself with the flame of the game,” the specialist points out.

According to the psychologist, in recent decades chess has been used as a tool for cognitive training in different pathologies of the mental health.

It is the case of patients with schizophrenia. Regular exercise helps improve your executive functions.

In children and adolescents with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)it has been shown that regular chess training together with the usual treatment helps patients to improve in attention and in the symptomatology of this condition.

But also in pathologies of the autistic spectrum, where chess is a good ally due to the fact that the chess language is non-verbal and universal. Thus, there is no need to engage in a spoken conversation, which is the main deficit of these patients.

Benefits for the little ones

“It is important that children’s education focuses on teaching a to thinkto make the mind flexible”, explains Rodrigo Yanguas to EFEsalut.

And chess is a powerful educational tool that takes part in the cognitive improvement (service of training reasoning skills, which affects school grades) and in the emotional area (producing an improvement in self-esteem and self-confidence, increasing the feeling of responsibility).

In addition, he works development of self-controlso it is learned that impulsivity only leads to making mistakes and an attitude of calm and reflection is encouraged, as well as the creative thinking, critical and the memory.

Chess benefits children
EFE/Raúl Martínez

Against the delay of brain aging

The dementia and the alzheimer are two of the neurodegenerative diseases most feared The population is getting bigger and the brain is deteriorating.

“To prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s it is recommended to lead a healthy life and do mental training exercises. In the same way that we exercise the body, we must exercise the brain to be healthy and mentally active”, says the psychologist.

Chess keeps the brain mentally fit and helps delay, in some cases, the symptoms typical of old age. It becomes an excellent tool for the prevention of neurodegenerative diseases.

“The ten psychological granites of chess”

In “No t’enroquis”, the author offers “ten grains” that chess has brought to him throughout his life and that, therefore, it can also bring to us:

  1. A mental gym low cost: chess is a tool that helps to strengthen attention and memory to maintain a healthy mind.
  2. Emotional intelligence: is an emotional essay for the representation of life.
  3. Self-control of emotions: it is important that you start to know yourself and try to decipher the messages that your body sends you. Feeling, thinking and doing go together.
  4. Adversity management: adversities are part of life’s path and are inevitable, so we must learn how to deal with them.
  5. Development of empathy: learn to put yourself in the shoes of the other person.
  6. Loss management: remember that every defeat involves learning, focus your attention on the process and not on the result.
  7. Frustration tolerance: knowing how to manage emotions in a functional way and learn to recover from those moments when your expectations have not been met.
  8. Decision making: playing chess helps to train the ability to make decisions, extrapolated to life.
  9. Overcoming obstacles: Problems are an inevitable part of life, but the character and action to deal with them is up to you. Chess helps you solve problems and overcome these obstacles.
  10. Getting to know you.
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