Justifying Games: Why Chess Doesn’t Have to Make You Smarter

Chess Pieces

Recently I’ve taken an interest in chess. I downloaded a chess app, watched some basic YouTube tutorials on openings and checkmating, and read up on some of the greats like Bobby Fischer, Gary Kasparov, and Magnus Carlsen. When I told a friend that I had been playing chess, he said, “The game of intellectuals… Why are you playing it?”

He’s real funny.

But there is something interesting about that sentiment. Chess is seen as an intellectual pursuit. The chess world’s grandmasters are often referred to as geniuses and savants. Chess clubs are often encouraged as extracurriculars in schools because of this idea that chess will make children smarter.

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