Monday, August 23, 2010

Best medicine in Mesa pediatrician's bag may be a chess set

I read this article about the benefits of chess and thought I would keep a record of it and provide a link for those interested.

The gist of the article is about how a Doctor for children makes use of chess in his bag of tricks to help them get well. There are also some interesting quotes not related to the main point.

First of all, here is the link.

"The hospital is all about being healthy," Saba says, "and that means having a strong body and a strong mind. Chess is another way to help children be healthy."

It keeps their minds active and their stress at bay while they're confined to bed, "and they can play for their rest of their life," he says.

Fun may be foremost, but chess can be good for players in other ways. Its positive impact on brain fitness has been documented in numerous studies, and anecdotal evidence suggests it helps the rest of the body, too. With the social interaction inherent in matching wits with others, emotional health likely is another beneficiary.

The American Academy of Pediatrics' "School Health Handbook" includes a section on the benefits of chess, inspired by a resolution Saba wrote in 1999 when he was president of the academy's Arizona chapter.

Furthermore, the benefit is not simply mental ...

And chess master Leroy Dubeck, a physics professor at Temple University in Philadelphia, remembers research by one of his graduate students decades ago. It showed that competing in a chess tournament delivers a surprising workout.

"We did find," Dubeck says by e-mail, "that players hooked up to physiographs had their breathing rate, heart rate, blood pressure, etc., increase (for some) as much as typically happens to a football player on the field."

There's more - including some romantic complications - but I will leave that to the readers of this blog to find out for themselves. What I do not want to leave alone is my own experience about the benefits of chess.

It's funny, really, that I didn't give chess credit for some of the health improvements in my own life. 37 years ago I was involved in a very serious motorcycle accident - a head on at speed with another motorcycle - that found me learning to walk again and getting rehab at what was then the Gorge Road Rehab Hospital in Victoria, B.C..

In my ward was a Yugoslav, Serbian I think, who had had his own horrifying trauma. He had one of his legs burned off just below the knee, serious burn injuries to one of his arms, in a construction accident in which he had been electrocuted with tens of thousands of volts. I think his name was Slavko or something like that. (I'd love to meet him again, if I could, and any Victoria chess player reading this might be able to help.) Anyway, Slavko and I played a great deal of chess in that hospital and, now that I think about it, that chess playing was the beginning of my road to recovery. It would be almost 20 years before I took up competitive chess seriously - much too late in life for really great results - but I see now that playing chess, long ago, with that burn victim, was a great help to me. My long walk to freedom had begun, I become oriented towards recovery, I walked again, and life went on.

Perhaps you, too, have a great, long forgotten chess story like mine. Such stories ought to be told for they form part of chess history and chess culture that has lasted for over a thousand years and will, undoubtedly, last another thousand years.

Long live our great and noble game!

1 comment:

Nigel said...

This is a test comment. The End.