8 Ways Chess Is The World's Best Game

Aug 28, 2011, 5:03 AM |

The game of Chess has stood the test of time, lasting for centuries with few changes to the basic rules.  Here are eight reasons why chess is the best game in the world.

1. Easy To Learn, Hard To Master

The basic rules of chess are so simple to understand that it’s quite common for children aged five (or even younger!) to learn to play.  Yet for a game with simple rules, it develops such deep complexity that it is hard to master.

So no matter what level of ability you are, you always have more to learn. Even the champions can make mistakes...

2. The Chessboard Is A Level Playing Field

All you need to play chess is a brain capable of logical thought.  That’s just about everyone in the world except maybe members of the Tea Party.Wink

Whether you’re male or female, young or old, fit or unfit, able-bodied or disabled, when you face your opponent across the 64 squares none of that matters.  Only blind players could be said to be at some measure of disadvantage, but that doesn’t prevent blind or visually impaired players from reaching a very high standard.

A braille chess set, with plugs for pieces and raised dark sqaures 

3. Chess Has A Positive Image

All chess players around the world benefit from the positive image of the Game Of Kings. Chess is regarded as an intellectual game, and players of all abilities are accorded respect and admiration from non-players.

Even the secondary image of chess as a game for geeks is not without its advantages. “Geek chic” is now all the rage!

Chess is viewed as a noble game, in sharp contrast to the rather seedy image of some card games, especially poker and it’s variants.

4. Chess Is Perfect For Kids

Chess is an ideal game for kids, and chess clubs are popular in the schools of many different countries.

Far from the preserve of the academically gifted, chess also helps troubled kids to find a better focus for their energies, and allows shy or non-athletic kids an opportunity to exercise their competitive spirit.

5. Chess Is Perfect For Seniors

At the other end of the spectrum, chess can be enjoyed throughout all the ages of life.  Many studies suggest that keeping your mind active can help prevent conditions such as Alzheimer's disease, and chess is an excellent way to do this!

For example, a study by the American Academy of Neurology found that “a cognitively active person in old age was 2.6 times less likely to develop dementia and Alzheimer's disease than a cognitively inactive person in old age”.

Viktor Korchnoi beats Fabiano Caruana, 61 years his junior!



6. Chess Is A Game Of Perfect Information

Chess as a game of “perfect information”, meaning that each player has the same information available to him to decide on his strategy.  As a result, chess is arguably free from luck so the result depends solely on the skill of the players.

Games of perfect information are in a minority, since most games rely on chance and/or some information being hidden from your opponent(s). Card games usually fall into this “imperfect information” category, since each player’s cards are normally hidden from the other players.

7. Chess Teaches Fair Play

The great American statesman Ben Franklin famously wrote about “The Morals Of Chess”, and the modern consensus is that playing chess encourages logical thinking, creativity, imagination and memory.

“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”. From “The Morals Of Chess” by Ben Franklin.

8. Chess Is Perfect For The Internet

Chess is traditionally played with an actual physical board and real pieces, but it’s visual appearance and mathematical structure makes it an excellent game to play on a computer screen.

This has allowed for the true democratization of chess, with players from all around the world able to play chess against one another on the internet, and for great players to emerge from countries without a strong chess tradition.

Magnus Carlsen from Norway