Chess Keeps Your Mind Sharp

My father taught me how to play chess when I was about seven. I never was good at it and didn’t particularly enjoy it, but I played because it gave me an opportunity to be with my father and do something with him that he loved to do. My brother played with my father, too, but unlike me, my brother actually enjoyed it and became an excellent player. I remember the first time my brother won a game with my father. My father laughed good-naturedly, proud that his son had progressed in the game. I never won a game with my father. Never. I never won a game with my brother, either, for that matter. My husband and sons also play. They have beaten me every time. In fact, I don’t think I have ever won a game of chess until recently.

I have not played a game of chess for decades. I simply don’t have the patience or the ability to see beyond the next move. My father had a book, How to Think Ahead in Chess, that I tried to read, but not only did I find it boring, I could never learn how to maneuver my opponent into a position where I could take him. I spent every game on the run, and when my horses…er, knights…were taken, I was so dejected, I gave up. I really liked those cute little guys. I clearly don’t have the mind for chess.

Now, however, my doctor said it is very important for me to find ways to stimulate my mind because he finds older patients who don’t use their minds are prone to dementia. Chess is an excellent way to stimulate one’s mind. How fortunate, then, that a close friend of mine recently told me how much she would like to initiate a weekly game of chess with me. We have played twice already, and I have beaten her twice. Maybe I don’t stink after all. I think I’ve just always played with excellent players, and I’ve finally found someone who is on my level. I may even come to enjoy this game after all these years.

This week’s game was particularly satisfying. I took my time, studying the board carefully, and maneuvered my opponent into a position where she was trapped at every turn. When I took her horse…er, knight…I relished the stunned look of surprise and dismay on her face. Ha! No mercy! Next week we’re going to play with the bishops instead of just the pawns and knights. You have to teach a seven-year-old slowly. You can’t rush with such a difficult game. Besides, I would like to win a few more games before she turns eight and starts beating me.

About Coming East

I am a writer, wife, mother, and grandmother who thinks you're never too old until you're dead. My inspiration is Grandma Moses who became a successful artist in her late 70's. If I don't do something pretty soon, though, I'll have to find someone older for inspiration.
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27 Responses to Chess Keeps Your Mind Sharp

  1. Amy says:

    Here is an example.
    I don’t mean to impose the post on you…, scroll down to the bottom — these two are the links to my previous post I was talking about. Hope you like the idea. I learned from other bloggers (some call it related posts, you may like this one, you don’t want to miss this one…). If you don’t want to post the pic like I did. You can just get the title and make a URL link to it. Most readers probably wouldn’t think about to go to the drop-down and look for posts to read 🙂

  2. oldereyes says:

    I don’t remember who taught me to play chess but I learned very young. The boys in my neighborhood played and I had a disabled uncle who lived with my Dad’s Mom who loved chess. It was my “responsibility” to play with him whenever we visited even though by the time I was ten, I could beat him. But I haven’t played in years. You got me completely with the surprise that you playing your eight year old neighbor. I should try it with my eight year old grandson. He has a chess kind of mind.

  3. haha…as I read through the comments I was going to weigh in on my similar bridge experience and you, the author beat me to it. Anyway, ditto on bridge, too! Dean, your little neighbor just may become chess club president when she’s in hs.

  4. Amy says:

    I’d love to hear the story of you and your 8-year old friend play. Knowing her from your blog, she is not going to be happy, if you win 🙂

    • Coming East says:

      She’s only seven right now. She was actually very good about losing because I told her we’re only practicing. She’s never played chess before and noticed my husband’s chess set when she was over one day. “I’ve always wanted to learn to play chess!” she said. So I’m teaching her. She’s very bright, so I don’t think it will tke her long to figure it out and beat me.

      • Amy says:

        Love this smart girl! She is lucky to have you (a Dean and a Ph.D) to guide her. I have to tell you, my two-year old (now three) grandson has to flip though 6, 8 books (page-by-page) before he goes to bed, he then puts all these books by his pillow 🙂

      • Coming East says:

        What a smart little guy! Thanks for the upgrade, but I am not a Ph.D. A dean, yes, but only an M.Ed.

  5. Dianna says:

    You always “get me” when you write about your little neighbor.
    (As for stimulating my mind, it will have to be the daily crossword puzzle….)

  6. My husband taught our eldest when he was about 4 and he was addicted for years. He took some professional lessons and participated in some tournaments. Now he’s teaching his 4 year old. I never played as a kid but Jacob (son) taught me so he’d have someone to play with until my husband came home from work. I’m afraid I was never a very strong opponent. Good for you- great activity to keep the mind strong!

  7. Oh, this brought back memories of when I thought I SHOULD know how to play chess way back in junior high. Hmmm…well…the result wasn’t so good. Like you, I just couldn’t master the game no matter what (I’m terrible at remembering what cards have been played in card games too) and I’ve never gone back to try to play again. Maybe I need to find a 7-yr-old to spar with too? 😉 I try to keep my brain trained by doing crossword puzzles every day. Since I started that a few years ago, my memory is much improved and I enjoy doing them a lot more than I ever enjoyed playing chess.

  8. Robin says:

    lol! I should have seen that coming, but you manage to surprise me with your twist at the end every time. I haven’t played chess since I was a teen, and I was terrible at it. I don’t think I think logically enough.

    • Coming East says:

      My father, the mathematician, would agree that I could not think logically if my life depended on it, Robin. At least where chess and bridge were concerned. I like to think I’m quite logical about other things. I tell my husband this all the time.

  9. hilarious! I haven’t played chess in years. When we were first married we had no phone, no television. Only each other, books and a chess set. I won one game and then we just sort of stopped playing… hmmmm…. great post!

  10. notquiteold says:

    Oh, we are SO alike. I could never think ahead. My game was always defensive. When I was a teenager my eight-year-old brother could beat the pants off me. Every time.

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