01 June 2014

The Riddles of Chess

Before I return to the main thread of the 'Chess in School' series, last seen on this blog in Three Studies, I need to address another aspect of the previous post in the series, Journal of Chess Research. Make that two aspects, because the first priority is to repeat a couple of links flagged in a comment to that 'Journal' post...

...those two links looking more permanent than the one I gave previously.

The second priority is to add another field needing peer-reviewed research, the impact of chess on dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. I was reminded of this on the Streatham & Brixton blog in a post titled Doctor Garry Is In. While that post was only a short introduction to the subject, the followup post, Doctor Garry II: De Nos Jours, clearly stated the problem.

At times it seems like we're getting one chesser or another using twitter to tell us something about dementia every other day, but the week when there’s an actual organised attempt to push the issue into the nation’s consciousness [Dementia Awareness Week] we get nothing at all. I just can’t understand it. It’s almost as if the provision of information about dementia isn’t the primary purpose of those tweets at all.

The next post, Doctor Garry III: Dogs That Don't Bark, was even more direct.

Dr. Verghese was the lead author of a journal article which is routinely cited amongst chessers on the internet. Leontxo Garcia recently called it "the best study" on the thesis that chess could, "prevent or delay Alzheimer’s".

Sounds promising, except for one thing.

Verghese’s article doesn’t actually mention chess. At all.

'Chess Research' could be a growth industry. We have one field of study involving youngsters and another involving oldsters. What about the great mass of humanity in the middle, the beast that the riddle of the Sphinx says, 'walks on two legs at noon'? It's the age when people are least likely to take up the game. What can chess possibly do for them?

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