The Many Benefits of Learning and Playing Chess

Gary L Deel
8 min readMay 27, 2022

In a previous article, I wrote about one of my many passions — motocross. I’ve ridden for years and I really enjoy it. However, back in early 2021 I suffered a bad crash at a track in Florida. I broke two of my ribs and punctured a lung.

It was a scary reminder of the mortal danger of extreme sports. Afterward, my wife suggested that maybe I take a break from motocross out of consideration for my family’s dependence on me to stay alive and healthy for them. So that’s what I did.

But I still needed something to satisfy my hunger for game and competition — a hobby or sport. I wanted something safe, but something that would still give me an opportunity to learn, hone skills, and burn some of the competitive energy with which I tend to be replete. Believe it or not, I decided to pick up chess.

I know. You’d be hard pressed to find two more different activities than motocross and chess. But chess has always interested me — and there were a few key advantages to my choice here. First, chess is very inexpensive to enjoy. You can buy a kit (a board and pieces) for less than $10. Or you can just play online through platforms like for free. It doesn’t require an expensive motorcycle and fancy gear, etc. You can play in your pajamas if you like.

Also, the risk of serious injury or death is obviously much, much lower. Unless you decide to play chess while driving on a freeway, you’re probably going to be fine. To be fair, there isn’t the same level of thrill and adrenaline with chess as there is with motocross. But I’ve actually discovered through learning the strategies and tactics of the game that it can be enjoyable and beneficial in its own right. So I wrote this article in an effort to enumerate all the ways that I think learning and playing chess can be profoundly helpful for mental wellness and development. And I hope this piece inspires some of my readers to consider picking up the game.

1. Fun — At its core, chess is a game with strategy, tactics, suspense, tension, victory and loss. So if you’re the kind of person that enjoys games, it should prove entertaining. Chess is also a game that is ultimately composed of puzzles which must be solved from one move to the next in order to maximize the efficacy of one’s efforts. So if you’re the…

Gary L Deel

Dr. Gary Deel is a consultant, an attorney, an executive leader, an author, a podcast host, and a professor for several different universities.