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Have there been any studies on using chess for therapy?

If so, what conditions or illnesses have benefited most from using chess as a therapy? Are there certain conditions or illnesses were it has actually been more stressful?

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Hard to say, we're not therapists :-). Google gives me that: – Zistoloen Dec 10 '12 at 15:51
@Zistoloen - Yeah, I saw that link. You don't have to be a therapist and you never know if one may pop-up on the site. – xaisoft Dec 10 '12 at 15:57
IMHO these are three different questions, perhaps you should consider to use each question separated from the others. Have there been studies, yes. Conditions or Illnesses benefited: ADDH. Conditions or illnesses were it has actually been more stressful: OCD and others similar. – Helio Dec 11 '12 at 2:14
up vote 5 down vote accepted

I am not an expert, but an active chess player at and participate in its forums. Yes, chess can be therapeutic. Playing chess involves co-ordination of different mental abilities like strategy, tactics, intuition, visual imagery, risk analysis, control of emotions, etc. Actively playing chess everyday keeps the mind sharp and attentive. In most cases, it has also shown improvements in mental conditions like ADHD, OCD, Depression, etc.

However, over indulgence into anything is bad and playing compulsively over long duration can effect the individual's thought process. Many schizophrenic persons who play chess start visualizing everything including this life, its people and events as chess moves. If the connection with chess is too deep, real life relations with people are affected. These studies are not confirmed, and are said to be more like "adding order to chaos" from schizophrenic mind's perspective.

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Do you have any material showing the connection between chess and OCD? – lvella Jul 11 at 20:15

Chess is especially great for men. As you may know, when men are stressed out by really big problems it helps to divert their attention to a hobby. That way they can be working to solve smaller problems. People say chess makes you think hard. I think the guys who play it actually want to relax. It's like watching football.

"But I play chess to not think."


For me it becomes very zen, especially when just playing with my friends. In America our attitude is very task oriented or goal focused. When you're playing with a friend and you've got the game all wrapped up, it's more about being there. Asian cultures generally have this attitude. It's about the experience of the leaves, the air, the black tea, or the fountain behind you. The friendly curiosity of girls walking by on their way to class. Maybe the encouragement of a few spectators gathered around your board to watch.

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Friends I really had an ill-fated childhood as one of my close relative was acute alcoholic and I had severe mental disorders like OCD and Social Anxiety. However with the help of caring people like parents and treatment in a international Bangalore based Deemed University today I walk free from the shackles of mental illness. I play chess for earning and I play it in India. No I am not that much successful and my ELO Rating is below 1800 but I enjoy playing the game . Though initially I had some problems regarding the physical aspect of competitive chess today with proper diet and exercise I have overcome that. Thankfully my chess coach is understanding and due to my exposure to life, chess has given me a new view to life. High level competitive chess is helping me to do my other works nicely as it is helping me to have a definite goal and structured thinking pattern. Obviously I do not practice for hours as that can be detrimental but I do practice for about 7-8 hours weekly. I know that to do well I should practice a little more, say about 15-16 hours per week but not more than that as everyone's brain has its limitations. Chess has really empowered me and due to the fact that I can count my blessings(that at least I am winning some games) I am happy with my life. Thank you chess.

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