Hesse on the World Chess Day

by ChessBase
7/23/2023 – World Chess Day is celebrated annually on July 20. It is the date when FIDE was founded, 99 years ago. The idea to celebrate this was proposed by UNESCO, and its purpose is to raise awareness of the game and its benefits (improving cognitive skills, problem-solving abilities, and strategic thinking). In an article in a German science portal mathematics professor Christian Hesse, who has written quite extensively about chess, tells us how chess offers a profound intellectual duel with a surprising thrill factor. | Image Süleyman Kayaalp

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Christian Hesse's article "Die weite Welt des Schachs" (The Wide World of Chess) is in German, but can be easily translated by browsers. It discusses the history and popularity of chess, as well as its benefits for the cognitive development of its proponents. The article traces the history of chess back to its origins in India, over 1,500 years ago, and goes on to discuss the game's spread to other parts of the world, including Europe, where it became popular among the upper classes. The article also discusses the development of modern chess, including the introduction of Fischer Random Chess.

Chess, says Christian, is a complex game that requires players to use a variety of cognitive skills, including problem-solving, planning, and strategic thinking. Studies have shown that chess can improve these skills in children and adults. He also discusses the future of chess, predicting that it will remain popular for many years to come.

Chess also has a strong emotional side. Two decades ago, a team of psychologists published a this sensational study showing that enthusiastic chess players scored very high in tests in the "thrill-seeking" category. The study revealed that during the tough struggle in important games the players experience the same intense adrenaline rushes as bungee jumpers, paragliders, deep sea divers, parachutists and extreme mountaineers.

Here are some interesting facts given in the article:

  • Chess is the most popular board game in the world, with over 600 million players.
  • It has been shown to improve memory, attention, and decision-making skills.
  • Chess is a "brain-training game" that can help people of all ages stay sharp.

Christian strongly encourages people who do not play chess to teach themselves the rules, today. And if they know the game to teach their children how to play. "If you don't have time for this," he writes, "then perhaps the following short problem is just right for your hurried mind:"

In this position, composed by Karl Fabel, it is White is to move. Your task is to find the only move that does not (!) checkmate Black immediately.

Christian Hesse has written numerous articles for our new page. Here are some.

Reports about chess: tournaments, championships, portraits, interviews, World Championships, product launches and more.