Friday, July 13, 2018

2 Reasons Why Chess is bad for your health

Posted by Andrew Ooi

One of the reason I've stopped playing chess is because of health. For someone who calls himself "GilaChess" that is a pretty significant. It's not like I have a serious heart condition which forces me to give up chess  but I've seen too many chess friends suffer and many even passed away.

Just like cigarrettes it is a silent killer and many afflicted will not acknowledge that chess is bad for them.


I tried to bait some chess friends with a FB post above. You can read the comments to decide for yourself if the "defence" that chess is not unhealthy is convincing or not.

Here are the reasons why I feel chess is bad for health:

Sedentary Game
You sit for hours staring at the chess board. Unlike other game or sports there is no physical activity involved except thinking. Thus, it does not encourage its practioners to be moving about. For the really serious, they can sit for hours without getting up. Sure there are the nervous ones that get up after every move. But that's just walking in a crowded hall that is filled with breathing chess players. Hardly healthy. E-sports gives the image of someone sitting at the computer for hours without a break and extreme cases have reported people dying from it. Though less extreme, Chess shares some of these features too.

Competitive Anxiety
I played against a friend in a tournament over 10 years ago and was surprised when I shook his hands, they were trembling. He won. But the stress of pushing for the win must have been enormous even though it was just a one day weekend tournament. This friend suffered heart failure years later. I cannot attribute that chess is the cause but my feeling is that if you have heart problems, competitive chess does not positively contribute to your health. Again, I admit this depends on the person. The exception is one who  take the game lightly and see it as a relaxing activity. Then again, personally I don't know such happy-go-lucky chess friends.


My observations during 2014 Malaysian Chess Festival:
(picture above depicts two former World Champions so engrossed in the game playing on a hospital bed)

Okay I won't deny the benefits of chess is numerous and will not discourage any kids from taking up the game. In fact I would encourage them to do so! 

My advice is if you are over 40, please don't take part in competitive chess. Or at least take it easy and play casually.  Even for those over 30, caution must be taken. At least know the negative effects of chess and take precautions such as more exercise, constant monitoring of health indicators like blood pressure etc.

So will I ever play chess again?
Of course I will. But casual or friendly chess. You won't see me entering tournaments with prizes though.

Also it was not my intention to paint a big black cloud around chess. Just to highlight the potential health disadvantage. The main reasons I am still blogging about chess is to meet my chess friends at chess events.

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