Now’s as good a time as any to learn about the cerebral game of chess.

Off the back of the hit show ‘Queen’s Gambit’ on streaming platform Netflix, the popularity of the classic board game is on the rise.

What’s more, due to the COVID-19 pandemic which for some was a stark wake up call, the board game provides an excellent opportunity to stimulate the brain and put the phone down for a minute or two.

While there’s nothing wrong with watching TV or browsing social media from time to time, technology has become so integrated in our lives that a break from it once in a while is undoubtedly a positive thing.

If you’re stuck indoors on a rainy day or just don’t feel like leaving the house, but you also don’t want to get sucked into the social media vacuum, why not turn your attention to chess?

In this guide, we’re going to take a step back and talk about the history of chess and the benefits of playing, before zooming in and focusing on the meta of the game.

chess board pieces
Chess is a game that's been around for a long time. Source: Unsplash
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Benefits of playing chess

Chess has a chequered history, with pieces from the board game we know today being found all over the world even before the game came to market around the 6th century.

It wasn’t until the 15th century that the game really started to gain traction and become what we know it as today. Tournament play was made popular in the 19th century, yet today the world of chess looks worlds apart from what it once was.

These days you can find chess players pitting their wits against supercomputers, raising the debate of whether machines will always win at logic-based games. Fortunately, for now, the answer is no, and for human chess players there are plenty of benefits to taking up the game.

  •  Brain training
brain model
To sharpen your grey matter, chess isn't a bad game to play. https://unsplash.com/photos/so1L3jsdD3Y

It’s no secret that chess is touted as one of the best games to sharpen your cognitive tools.

While it may be more convenient to open that brain training app on your phone or the game on your handheld console, why resort to yet more screens when you can have a screen-free brain-boosting experience?

After all, you want to give your brain a lift not deflate it with invasive bright lights and addicting video games.

Experts say that playing chess can not only raise your IQ score, but it could also potentially help lower the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

  •  Improves memory

Playing chess can also work wonders for your memory.

If you are worried at all that one day your memory won’t be what it used to be, which happens to the best of us, then it’s a good idea to actively test it whenever you get the chance.

But how does chess test memory? You might ask.

Well, in the beginning, you have all the pieces to remember along with the specific ways in which they can be moved.

When you approach an intermediate level, there are various strategies floating around in your head as the opponent takes their move. Once they place a piece on the table, your mind starts racing trying to find memories of a similar move you’ve seen in the past in order to construct a worthy response.

At the advanced level, you might be able to channel some ‘Queen’s Gambit’ style chess board visuals on the ceiling. You may be able to visualise moves as they play out from your mind’s eye, drawing extensively from your memories.

  •  It brings out your creativity

It’s fair to say that most people wish they were more creative.

We wish we could be the people to write that play, paint that painting, or design that home.

Maybe we all have an untapped resource of creativity inside of us, waiting to be released. Or maybe we don’t.

Either way, it’s worth trying to unlock your creative potential, wouldn’t you say?

Chess can be an ideal opportunity to get creative, and have fun while doing so. A lot of people balk at the thought of trying to draw to get the creative juices flowing, since the majority of the time it can be a defeating experience as a roughly-drawn stickman is all that ever seems to appear on the page.

Studies have shown that chess can nurture the right-hand side of the brain and stimulate creative thinking.

Skills that kids learn at chess

Have you ever wondered what the benefits of enrolling your child in a chess club would be?

Would they actually develop useful skills they could use in the real-world, or is everything they learn playing chess confined to the rules of the board game?

Fortunately, there are many real-world skills kids can acquire through playing chess, so if you’re on the fence about encouraging them to play here are some reasons to help you decide.

  •  Problem-solving

The number one skill associated with playing chess is problem-solving.

Chess forces you to think on your feet for an extended period of time, working your way through problems that arise and putting out fires as you go.

The board game is comparable to a puzzle, one which many kids relish in trying to solve.

  •  Patience

Most parents would agree that patience is a rarely-found virtue in children.

Kids are often very excitable, and the mere mention of the word ‘game’ can spark a reaction that you can’t control.

However, chess is different.

Chess isn’t like the average video game which is highly stimulating and forces kids to spend a long period of time staring at a screen. It’s a game that requires much more patience.

While it may take a while before you see the benefit, it’s worth persevering with chess for your kids if you value the virtue of patience.

How do you win chess in 2 moves?

fallen king chess
You can indeed fell the opponent's king in just two moves. source: Unsplash

It isn’t just wishful thinking, you can indeed win a game of chess in as few as two moves.

That means the next time you come up against one of your friends or a competitor in a tournament, if the stars align you can finish the game in next to no time at all.

Though it goes without saying that if you know how to win the game in two moves, your opponent likely will too. Still, it’s a handy tool to have in your arsenal just in case one day the opportunity presents itself.

To pull off the two-move victory, here’s what you’ll need to do:

Play as the black pieces, since this is a strategy that capitalises on two poor moves from the opposition so you want them to be the one to kick the game off.

  •  Watch for the opposition player moving their pawn to f4 with their opening move, this will open up the two-move strategy to you.
  •  On your turn take your pawn and move it to e6.
  •  If the opponent then moves another pawn up to g4 to back up the original move, you can start celebrating because they’ve fallen into the trap.
  •  To seal the victory, move your queen to h4 and you’ll put the opposition player’s king in check.

In this play, the player in control of the white pieces makes the mistake of exposing their king with two poorly thought-out opening moves.

Yet we must reiterate, this winning strategy is predicated on the opposition player making two mistakes in a row so it’s not often that you’ll get to use it on a real opponent, especially if you’re competing in a tournament setting.

How do you win chess in 3 moves?

Now that you know how to take the victory in just two moves, why not learn a strategy for a three-move win too?

While it will take some time to learn and commit to memory these strategies, they are worth knowing since they can give you the victory early on if the opposition player makes a few mistakes.

To do the three-move strategy in chess, here’s what you have to do:

Play as the white pieces, since this strategy will only work if you’re the first player to make a move.

  •  Take your pawn and move it to the e4 spot, this will open up some space for your queen, which is the central piece to this strategy succeeding.
  •  If your opponent moves a pawn up to f5, this is good news. You’ll want to take that pawn, since it’s all part of your master plan.
  •  Hopefully this move has prompted your opponent to push another pawn up to g5, at which point, victory is yours.
  • Now simply move your queen to h5 and the opponent’s king will be completely trapped.

The three-move strategy is another play that relies on your opponent slipping up several times, so you’re unlikely to pull it off against a seasoned veteran who knows what to look for.

However, there’s a strong chance that you could win a game against one of your friends or family members this way, if you can coax them into making the mistakes.

 

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Daniel

A student by trade, Daniel spends most of his time working on that essay that's due in a couple of days' time. When he's not working, he can be found working on his salsa steps, or in bed.