5 reasons to play chess in uni (and in life!)

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The ancient game of Chess has long been a game of wits and strategy, played in silence on professional and amateur circuits alike. The raging chaos of unseen mental wars occurs and once or twice, your opponent’s mask cracks and with a signal, you would be able to devise a strategy to win the game based on the situation at hand.

With all the mental games and scheming manipulations involved in a great game of chess, how could I best explicate on this silent puzzle to persuade people that playing Chess is the way to go? The brilliant moment struck to mind when I saw my shopping list for the day.

5 Major Reasons why Chess is brilliant to be played in university (and in life!)

1. It’s a great mental sport to engage everyone on all levels

Chess has often been known to stretch your mind, improve your memory, helps you to plan and adapt etc. The numerous benefits have been well documented and a simple Google search would show the results. The funny thing about the benefits though, is that it often overwhelms and deters beginners from learning, because it all seems to require a great deal of mental capacity and an intellectual capacity.

That’s not true at all! Chess is open for everyone to learn, and everyone has a steady learning curve to improve. Chess is all about recognising patterns and learning tactical moves that can be used in different situations. It’s similar to the martial arts, where you anticipate an opponent’s next move and deter that by using an even better move to conquer. Though we can’t all be Magnus Carlsen who remembers thousands of games, the more you play, the easier it is to recognise a pretty opening, or a smooth way to checkmate using a queen and a knight!

2. A community is fostered without judgement

At Goldsmiths, we often reinforce for the need to have safe spaces for students and the community at large to engage and express themselves freely. Chess is one perfect way to do so, where the community of different backgrounds and ages play respectfully and exchange thoughts after a game to see how both sides could improve. Furthermore, a chess player is always delighted to have someone new to play, so the more people in the community, the merrier!

3. Life skills are derived out of this game

Aside from the mental benefits of Chess, you do get to improve certain skills that are applicable in your everyday lives. For starters, planning ahead is a great skill to have, be it in terms of planning an essay or even for projects at work in the future. Alternatively, you also get to appreciate the creativity that can be found in manoeuvring pieces around a 64 square board despite the order and disciplined structure of the game. At times, we often have to adapt to situations in the best way possible, and creativity is such an important element that gets underestimated then. Chess is a spectacular way to hone this skill subtly.

 4. Wonderful bit of fun really!

Who doesn’t love a bit of adrenaline when the clock starts ticking! That’s right, chess comes in various forms as well and one of my favourite forms is blitz chess. This involves playing with a time limit, and for me it’s usually 3 minutes online. Despite the fact that I often lose anyway due to my reckless playing style when on adrenaline, it is always thrilling to beat the clock when you’ve only 5 seconds left and a great tactical plan to execute!

5. Interesting conversation starter

I find that when I’m in new situations, it always seems pretty impressive when I casually insert the fact that I play chess as a hobby. You will be surprised how many people around you play Chess! In Goldsmiths alone, we’ve met a lot of people who love the game. We’ve met even more on the university circuit and at various chess clubs in London! So if you play with us, you never have to worry about starting a conversation with the classic phrase “Lovely weather we’re having today, isn’t it?”
If you’re still with me after running through all 5 reasons, you are probably an enthusiast who would like to learn, continue playing or just incredibly amazing at reading lists! If that’s the case, I strongly recommend that you come down and join us for a battle of wits where at the end of the day, it’s a bit of fun really and just a way to connect with people, silently but surely.

This was written by Velvetina, our guest blogger this week. Velvetina is President of the Chess Society which runs every Thursday, 6-8pm. For more details and locations, visit Goldsmiths Chess Society on Facebook, email goldsmithschess@gmail.com or come and visit the Welcome Fair 24 and 25 September RHB Great Hall

Society leadership positions – President, Co-president, Treasurer and Committee Member roles are recognised on the HEAR. Log into the HEAR page of learn.gold to find out more.

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