There are a lot of things we do or consume that have some surprising benefits for our health. Red wine, for example, can help burn fat and lower blood pressure according to researchers at Oregon State’s College of Agricultural Studies. Sleep, meanwhile, doesn’t just refresh you after a long day – sleep plays an important role in immune function and metabolism, even if it isn’t fully understood.
And then there’s chess. You might think it’s just a game (albeit a fairly difficult game to master), but chess can actually exercise both the left and right sides of your brain, optimises your memory and can help improve motor function in people who’ve suffered from a stroke, or a physically debilitating injury.
You’re not going to get very far if you simply invest in a board and try to glean the major points of the game by simply staring at the pieces. Thankfully, there are innumerable free tutorials on YouTube and elsewhere online.
There is a staggering amount of chess tutorials on YouTube – a search for ‘learn chess’ returns around 117,000 results. Chess Network is one of a number of channels which come recommended, with video tutorials on beginners’ chess, speed chess and solving chess puzzles.
Chess.com is another great resource for the budding (and advanced) chess player. Alongside an introduction to the history of the game, the rules, opening strategies and how you can improve, there are forums for any chess-related question you might have, a tactics trainer and the opportunity to test out your skills with live in-browser games.
Chesscademy offers a similar facility, teaching you the game one step at a time. You can watch videos by chess masters, solve interactive puzzles, test your skills and play games, and share your achievements with your friends.
Memrise is a very useful learning resource, featuring short (and longer) courses on topics as diverse as modern art and learning to speak basic Czech. They’ve also got several courses on chess, enough to get you on your way.