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How Chess Keeps Me Sane

Updated on April 10, 2013

When the going gets tough it's time to wage war on my partner...

Being a regular everyday working mum I have my moments. I have always been a fidgit and recently I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. I just constantly feel the need to try to do everything at once which leads me to be quite manic. I write lists, buzz around and get very flustered. I needed to find something that would make me slow down.

Chess is a passion both my partner and I share. Actually we are both so competitive any competition is a passion we both share.

But chess is different.

While we are playing we talk, ponder, discuss and work out things that would normally end up with me having one of my angry panic attacks.

So why chess? And why does it work when other things I have tried doesn't?

Photo Credit: Me!

Around 1750 Benejamin Franklin wrote:

"The Game of Chess is not merely an idle amusement; several very valuable qualities of the mind, useful in the course of human life, are to be acquired and strengthened by it, so as to become habits ready on all occasions; for life is a kind of Chess, in which we have often points to gain, and competitors or adversaries to contend with, and in which there is a vast variety of good and ill events, that are, in some degree, the effect of prudence, or the want of it."

My Chess board and lucky red cushion.
My Chess board and lucky red cushion.

How chess affects my brain

And why it is so beneficial

In my brain I have dozens of things happening all at once. I think about the book I'm currently writing, what I need to do tomorrow, what bills need to be paid, if we are on track with my goals - the list literally never ends. If you were to draw me and my thoughts I would look like I was balancing one of those unbelievably big jugs of water on my head down a long road to my village. Then something might happen and to a normal person they will just ignore it and carry on. But to me it's like someone has tripped me up and I have lost my village's weekly supply of water. I am constantly told to slow down, focus and think logically.

With chess I have to concentrate. I have to focus. I have to slow down because if I am too hasty I will lose the game. We actually play at least twice a day now and I always thoroughly look forward to it. In all honesty I have won less than ten times in the past four years but that's ok. It just drives me to try harder. And because I am playing so often I am beginning to use the habits I am picking up in chess in how I approach other scenarios.

For instance this morning I was taking my son out to see my friend but as we had just bought a kite the day before for our son my partner wanted to take him to the park. Usually I would argue and get defensive as I don't like plans changing at the last minute.

But instead I stopped to consider how much my son would love to see the kite in the air, how far we had to drive and see my friend so a stretch of our legs at the park first would be a good idea and most importantly; how much I love it when we do things together as a complete family.

So instead I focused on that, enjoyed our twenty minutes down the park and saw my friend a little later on.

It's this clarity and logic that chess teaches me to master.

Photo Credit: Me again, this is my chess board and my lucky red cushion.

Other reasons why chess is so beneficial - And why I love it

There are just so many! i've listed my favorite points.

  • It improves your memory - Learning chess and how to play improve your concentration and in turn your memory. Top chess players see the board in sections in their mind. They can tell if a piece is meant to be there or has just been placed there to trick them. By knowing all the possible positions of a piece they can determine the opposition's next move.
  • It teaches you patience - You simply can't go into a game guns blazing. If you do you're likely to lose in no time at all. Trust me, I've tried it. You have to build a defence slowly and then form an attack.
  • It teaches you responsibility - You send your queen out on her own, you'll lose her. Every action has a consequence, therefore you must be responsible for your decision.

True Story!

My partner and I were playing chess on New Years Eve this year, early in the afternoon. I had moved my lucky red cushion and during the course of the game something 'annoying' had bitten me three times. I honestly thought it was a mosquito.

Then the pain became sharply worse.

I stood up to discover I was sitting on a Red Back Spider (One of Australia's super nasties). My partner rushed me to hospital where I was on a drip for four hours.

That's how focused on winning my game of chess I get!

Chess Players Unite! - Are You A Grand Master Or A Never Master?

So enough about me and how much I love the game, how about you?

How Often Do You Play Chess

See results

Have You Heard About Three Person Chess? - Here's Sheldon Cooper To Tell You All About It...

When I saw this I thought it was hilarious - especially the new 'old woman' piece. Now we just need hobby shops to start selling them...

Give Chess A Try - You may be a Grand Master and not know it!

Every household needs a chessboard, maybe your's is up on the top shelf of your cupboard gathering dust. Either way, buy/borrow/find a chessboard and give it a go. Each time you play you are improving your brain while having some good old fashioned no computer required fun!

Or Maybe These Boards Are More Your Style... - I Love all Of These!

Star Trek Tri-Dimensional Chess Set, 1994 Original Limited Edition by the Franklin Mint
Star Trek Tri-Dimensional Chess Set, 1994 Original Limited Edition by the Franklin Mint

Since seeing Spock play this on Star Trek I have been really intrigued by it. It's definitely on my list to try and play this style of chess.

Simpsons Chess Set with Laminated fold-up playing board
Simpsons Chess Set with Laminated fold-up playing board

I remember seeing this when it came out thinking 'really??' but when I saw one up close I have to say it is really cool.

Greek Mythology Hand-Painted Theme Chessmen
Greek Mythology Hand-Painted Theme Chessmen

I love Greek Mythology, I used to read all about when I was younger. Having a chess set like this would be awesome. I think when I have built my dream home this is going in my writing room (aka My Princess Room)..

Star Wars Chess Set / Chess Game Board with Star Wars Figurines Chess Pieces (Game Board Size 17" x 17")
Star Wars Chess Set / Chess Game Board with Star Wars Figurines Chess Pieces (Game Board Size 17" x 17")

I must admit this ones not for me but my partner is a big Star Wars fan so I had to put his one on here for him. Maybe I'll get it for him for Christmas...


Have You Seen The Star Trek Chess Board? - Here's An Introduction...

What is your favorite way to relax? - I understand chess isn't for everyone. What do you do to take some time out?

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    • Lenskeeper profile image


      5 years ago

      I sing. I get immersed in getting a song right and lose myself in the moment.

      I haven't played chess in a long time, but you have made me start thinking about playing again...

    • GabStar profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      @Alana-r: Practice makes perfect :-)

    • Alana-r profile image


      6 years ago

      Great lens, i love playing chess but i have to admit i am not the best at it, i am improving though.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Quite an interesting read, indeed! Thanks kindly for sharing - blessed by a SquidAngel!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Chess is one my fav past times. Like the quote says a lot of what you learn in chess can be used in life.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      What do you do to take some time out? I like to go swimming!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Chess is a great way to kill off a boring Sunday afternoon! Great lense

    • pheonix76 profile image


      6 years ago from WNY

      I enjoy reading. I really love the game of chess and have been playing for most of my life. My dad taught me how to play. :) Thanks for sharing, great lens.

    • BuddyBink profile image


      6 years ago

      I have not played chess in years. Currently to relax I either write(Squidoo) or I work on my family history. Both are exciting and relaxing for me.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I thought the game chess came from India right?

    • jordanmilesbask profile image


      6 years ago

      I just go for a walk with my son..

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      No 2 games of chess are ever them same! Thanks for this cool Lense

    • dahlia369 profile image


      6 years ago

      Going out relaxes me more than anything, looking at the clouds and trees and pretty flowers makes me smile... :)

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I like to relax by spending time praying, reading and studying my Bible, listening to Gospel music, and exploring Squidoo. Great lens. God bless!

    • MelonyVaughan profile image


      6 years ago

      What a great lens! Chess is truly a wonderful game that really engages your brain. Nicely done!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Oh my gosh, I can't believe you were so engrossed in your game that you managed to ignore repeated spider bites. Excellent lens.

    • thesuccess2 profile image


      6 years ago

      Used to love Chess, now just do a little Sukodu!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      target shooting

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      This is really interesting! I appreciate your lens! Thanks!

    • tyrosine profile image


      6 years ago

      take a trip down to the mall :)

    • AlokaRuwanpathi profile image


      6 years ago

      What a chess lover... I too love that game, but luckily, I never beaten by nasty insects during the game. hahaha!!!

    • esvoytko lm profile image

      esvoytko lm 

      6 years ago

      Alas, my spouse hates chess. She hates checkers too, what gives?

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I take a walk in the country. the peace and quiet is soothing.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Mind growing, strategic game that I enjoy.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Thanks for the reminder. I used to play chess but forgot about it being busy or better: "buzzy" :-)

    • intermarks profile image


      6 years ago

      I have been playing chess during my schooling time. I love chess set made in steel.

    • jlshernandez profile image


      6 years ago

      Chess can get stressful when you play against the computer. It is not for everyone but can get addicting if you really are into it.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Video games...but I'm glad to revisit Chess, and that you beat the nasty red spider!

    • Richardryder profile image

      Risteard O'Marcahain 

      6 years ago from Wales

      Enjyed this

    • rewards4life info profile image

      rewards4life info 

      6 years ago

      I love chess but unfortunately haven't played for a couple of years, I think after reading this I'll have to get my board out again. I agree chess teaches you many things, every child should learn.

    • Ilonagarden profile image

      Ilona E 

      6 years ago from Ohio

      Love chess- but your spider story is downright scary!

    • Edwardjames81 profile image


      6 years ago

      I have to admt that I like playing chess as well. My eight year old nephew has taken a liking to it and is a very good opponent. It won't be too long before he beats me on a regular basis.

    • SophiaStar LM profile image

      SophiaStar LM 

      6 years ago

      I love taking bubble baths and singing:) Very interesting about chess and I can't believe you got bit by that spider four times ouch!!

    • artbyrodriguez profile image

      Beverly Rodriguez 

      6 years ago from Albany New York

      I watch TV to relax. Very interesting lens!

    • mbgphoto profile image

      Mary Beth Granger 

      6 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

      I love playing Scrabble. Online Scrabble is becoming a real passion...I usually have 8 or 9 games going. Welcome to rocketsquids.

    • Valerie Bloom profile image

      Valerie Bloom 

      6 years ago from Pennsylvania, USA

      My dad taught me how to play chess when I was about 6 or 7. I hadn't played for years, but now I'm playing with my son, who learned when he was 7. I fully agree that there are profound benefits to playing, though I have trouble making the time to do so. Your personal account was moving and inspiring! Thanks!

    • Mistl profile image


      6 years ago

      I relax by reading articles on the internet. I find it soothing and I learn things at the same time. :)

    • Mahogany LM profile image

      Mahogany LM 

      6 years ago

      I like chess, but you're appreciation is on a whole 'nother level! That's cooool.... and this is a great lens :).

    • lyttlehalfpint profile image


      6 years ago from Canada

      I love a rowdy game of chess as much as the quiet two strategists battling it out styles too ... but I don't have a chess partner so reading adn internet it is for me.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      photography as I totally switch off and shoot

    • Grandma-Marilyn profile image


      6 years ago

      I sit down and work on creating bead patterns to sell on my website or read a book.

    • BuddyBink profile image


      6 years ago

      I have not played chess in years. I am seeing a good reason to start again. I relax by writing these days. Thanks

    • micheleburke profile image

      Michele Marie Burke 

      6 years ago

      Great lens on the benefits of playing chess. Purchased my first chess set last year and am enjoying learning the game. My intention is not only the game itself but the implications of strategy that spill over into daily life as you pointed out. Thanks for sharing!

    • ColwoodWheelWorks profile image


      6 years ago

      I have several chess sets and love playing the game. Unfortunately I don't often find an opponent these days.

    • RandomChuck profile image


      6 years ago

      My Dad and I used to play chess. I know how to play, but I'm no good. Love the lens.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Hi Gabrielle I really enjoyed your articule, I haven't played a game of chess for ages but I know that it is definitely good for memory, the way that I relax is generally making things, when your mind is set on making things its like you go off into another world, I'm following you on Pinterest and when you see my boards you will see all of the goofy things that I like. Nice to meet you

    • BuckHawkcenter profile image


      6 years ago

      I taught my daughters to play chess just to help them learn how to think through the consequences of their actions. They now like to challenge me to a game every time we get together. Nice job.

    • Richard-H profile image


      6 years ago from Surrey, United Kingdom

      I don't play chess, but I enjoy the competition of other board games...Monopoly comes to mind.

    • case1worker lm profile image

      case1worker lm 

      6 years ago

      My husband and son play Chess, I think, like you, they enjoy the thought process and the calm before a move- they both enjoy fishing in the summer, which uses a lot of the same skills- honestly that's what they say

    • MarilynImanse profile image


      6 years ago

      It is great that you found something that does so much for your mind. The mind is a powerful thing. Nice lens.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I know the basic rules of chess, but was never very good at it. For relaxing I like to take walks and read. Nice lens.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I know the basic rules of chess, but was never very good at it. For relaxing I like to take walks and read. Nice lens.

    • flicker lm profile image

      flicker lm 

      6 years ago

      I used to play chess when I was much younger, but haven't for quite a few years now. It's great that you're finding that the skills you learn while playing chess also help in other parts of your life - and that you and your partner enjoy playing together.

    • Ann Hinds profile image

      Ann Hinds 

      6 years ago from So Cal

      I refuse to play chess. My grandson loves it and plays with Grandpa but I am to competitive and don't like to lose. It was my father's favorite game and I could never beat him. It does require discipline and I can see that it would be useful. Great lens.

    • RedHillGeneralS profile image


      6 years ago

      So great that you found an outlet that helps you to focus! Awesome Lens.

    • Coreena Jolene profile image

      Coreena Jolene 

      6 years ago

      Never got the hang of chess but very interesting on how it helps you focus and unwind in a way. Nice to meet you here on Squidoo.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I love playing chess too. It is a great way to improve memory!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Haven't played chess in decades; I was never good at it!! I'd rather be camping :)

      Great lens!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Nicely done.

    • TheBaseballCoach profile image


      6 years ago

      I also am a chess lover...nice lens


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