How Chess Keeps Me Sane
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."
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.
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
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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!
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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.
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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...