Sunday, March 12, 2017

Chess and Mental Health

“Chess, like love, like music, has the power to make men happy.”
— Siegbert Tarrasch

Chess, for me, is a metaphor for life.

The chess board provides a distinct, structured framework. As in life, to win, you think and work to coordinate your pieces. You develop a pattern to your moves. And you view possibilities through which you can shape your world.

One time, I was speaking to a 31-year-old man who’s about to give up on life. Abandoned by his father since birth and raised in poverty, he rose from the ashes and became a self-made millionaire at a young age.

Then, for some unexplainable reason, he was having suicidal thoughts. Somehow he slipped from his usual determined self that produced a magical dance in his life. He was good in rising up. Yet he experienced almost losing his grip.

In chess, it’s essential to keep one’s motivation alive. And when darkness shadows the board, to recall one’s purpose. And when one gets lost or confused looking at those dead pieces of wood, to stay in touch with one’s original inspiration to play.

In life, an absolutely most important thing is affirming your higher Self and knowing your true purpose. Even when you experience hurts, failures, or traumas, you have to stay in touch with that very core of your being.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Benefits of Chess Therapy

Chess has numerous benefits regarding health. Chess is very momentous. That's specifically for health and therapy related issues for the fact that it is one of the forms of Recreational Therapy.

Chess keeps mind healthy.  And healthy minds leads to healthy physique because mind controls and monitors all the activities of body.

Here are the benefits of chess regarding health as cited in an article from

1)  Chess helps patients who suffered from stroke and disabilities to recover. Chess develops the fine motor skills of these individuals as chess requires the motion of chess pieces in different directions (forward, backward, diagonally forward motion, diagonally backward motion).

2)  Chess optimizes the memory performance, because you will have to remember a lot of stuff to play chess (as the rules of chess are quite complex/ complicated) and in order to gain expertise in chess (tricks and techniques) you have to remember even more. You also need to learn from your previous games and mistakes, in order to be a good player of chess and this really optimizes the memory performance and recalling ability.

3)  Chess improves visualization. For example, before implementing a move a player imagines/ visualizes the effect on chess board or game. A player considers different moves or possibilities before playing a move in other words a player visualizes different moves in his mind and selects the best one that adds accuracy and benefit to his game and increases his chances of winning.

4)  Pattern recognition is a fundamental quality momentous in chess. You need to recall previous moves and compare it with the current scenario (position) before placing a move since; it is very difficult to recall each and every move as there are thousands of moves and its is almost impossible to recall them at one time therefore your mind search for pattern and similarity in each scenario (position), thus improving pattern recognition.

5)  According to recent studies, Chess assist the persons suffering from physical and emotional disability to recover completely.

6)  Experiments revealed that, chess leads to improvement in cognitive functioning (as chess improves attention, memory, organization skills and perception). It improves the ability of cognitive-impaired individual to work on issues related to orientation, sensory stimulation and environmental awareness.

7)  According to American Therapeutic Recreation Association (2005), the involvement of individual (suffering from spinal cord injury) in recreational activity specifically chess, improves his ability to enjoy life (life satisfaction), make social contacts or interaction and quality to overcome or suppress depression. This leads to decreased loneliness, increased social interaction, improved morale and ability to manage stress efficiently.

8) Chess (as recreational therapy) prevents or reduces non-adaptive or inappropriate behavior (American Therapeutic Recreation 2005).

9)  Chess prevents anxiety and depression by encouraging self improvement, improving self esteem and self confidence.

10) Chess improves visual memory and visual perception in addition to this; it improves caution/ attention and awareness.

Chess is extensively healthy activity or game. It should be encouraged to a great extent to ensure a happier and healthier life on planet as it degrades or eliminates disability, inflates growth in various aspects of routine functioning, improves independent functioning and quality of life.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Chess and Parenting

According to chess Mom, Marianne, there are 10 life lessons your children can learn from chess. Here's what she says:
"I spend inordinate amounts of time trying to convince my kids to embrace traits that are completely foreign to me. Patience would top that list. I cannot tell you how often I have yelled in a public place: “CALM DOWN AND STOP ACTING LIKE LUNATICS THIS INSTANT!” For effect, I might then throw something to the ground. One time, it was my phone—which promptly shattered into a million pieces.
The irony is not lost on me.
When I first taught my sons to play the game of chess, there were ulterior motives. Outwardly, I shared extensive data regarding chess and child brain development with anyone who asked. Yet inwardly, I knew the truth.
I was relying on a board game to impart critical life lessons.
My children have been students of chess most of their lives and are fair players. As their first teacher, I worked hard to instruct them on the basics, but then quickly turned them over to more experienced players and tutors. If the kids ever knew my deep, dark secret, they would be shocked.
I suck at it. Without the patience, strategic mind and attention span needed to win, I become distracted with my own maneuvers and fail to notice my opponents’ tactics.
With my boys, there was a strong desire to impart a level of discipline I always lacked. Chess was the obvious answer.
Some lessons of the game are obvious. Many are subtle and nuanced. There are a thousand hidden lectures on morality, temptation and even mercy within the board’s rank and file. Preaching to kids the keys to being a good person is an exercise in futility, but having them experience it through a game can plant lifelong seeds.
For purposes of this column, I have narrowed down just a few of the pearls of wisdom gleaned from this storied game of kings to give you the top 10 lessons of chess:

1. The world is made up of people who move in all different directions. Pay attention.

2. Sometimes, there is no going back no matter how badly you want to.

3. Protect those who may appear slow and vulnerable. There are kings amongst us.

4. A strong woman can go wherever the hell she wishes.

5. The most remarkable transformations are not instantaneous, but instead occur over long intervals, one square at a time.

6. Stay out of dark corners. Bad things can happen.

7. A knight in shining armor, by nature, will skip right over you.

8. Religion can be slanted.

9. During your final endgame, those most easily taken for granted often become the only ones who stand with you.

10. One bad move does not a person make. How you recover from your missteps is your lasting legacy.

There you have it. Everything you need to know about life right there on a checkered board. With minds young and pliable, I feel strongly all kids could benefit.
Sadly for me, it is far too late. I pretty much tapped out at Candy Land, becoming frustrated over never landing the shortcut at Gum Drop Mountain.
Like I said. Zero patience."

This article was written by
Marianne Walsh
Member of the Chicago Parent Blog Network

Chess as Adjunct To Psychotherapy

Chess is therapeutic. That is, when it becomes an avenue when a client expresses his or her inner being through chess games against his or her therapist.

In chess therapy, relationship is primary. The relationship between therapist and client is established not as combatants but more of a cooperative alliance for better perspectives and actions.

Playing chess may support a client to express his or her personal emotions, thoughts, and other issues as manifested in his or her style of play. For example, those with anger or impatience issues during matches are likely angry and impatient in real life situations.

Successful, in-depth chess therapy can later on be transformed to better adjustments and mental health and well being in a person's real-life.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Chess Like Life

Life is truly like a game of chess. You cannot waste moves or you suffer the consequences. You must move forward. Along the way, you lose pieces but you also gain advantages when you play well.

I agree. In the end, you are left with what you need. You. And, hopefully, you find what you really need: the Master.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Brilliant Wesley

I'm happy for super GM Wesley So, a fellow Filipino, for winning the recent Millionaire Chess Cup. I hope he'll become world champion some day.

Like Wesley, we all compete in a championship and one day we'll receive a trophy and prize for how we've performed. It's called life. The prize is eternal life awarded by the King of kings Himself!

Now that will indeed be a great celebratory prize giving!

"I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenwards in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:14)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Turning Point

In chess, there is often a turning point. Maybe a player has made a bold, aggressive move. Maybe he has made a blunder and given away a piece cheaply. Or, he lost initiative, a precious tempo of the game.

Spiritually and mentally, to turn towards God and turn away from sin in our lives is an essential turning point. It's the beginning of the renewing of our mind that leads to eternal life. We realize our need for God and respond to His great love.

With this turning point, we're then able to live our lives with purpose. Every move we make, every plan we undertake, has clear meaning and direction. No more shame. No more tears or pain unprocessed. No more grief un-comforted. No more fear of death. It's an everlasting checkmate!

Indeed, you can play countless games of chess in your earthly life. But you live only one life. Make sure you make the right move ... the right turning point.