Why is chess a sport?

Chess is a traditional game with a significant mental and physical load. Did you know that it is also a sport? In this article we tell you why.

Last update: 09 February, 2022

If we were asked to mention a sport, chess would probably not be on the list. However, this strategy game has reached the same category as football, rugby or basketball. Keep reading to learn a little more about this discipline and why it is a sport.

Sports are those activities or physical exercises that have regulations and in which skill, dexterity or physical strength is tested. They do not necessarily have to be competitive, although it is the most common.

In the case of chess, debates question whether there is physical activity in the game. Although it does exist, but it manifests itself differently compared to other disciplines. Chess is recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC)the International Chess Federation (FIDE, according to its acronym in French) and most countries.

Find out why chess is recognized as a sport

According to the most accepted version, chess originated in India or in a nearby regionwhere they called him chaturanga or army game. It then spread to China, Russia, Persia, and various European countries. The word in Spanish comes from a deformation of shatranj, which is the old Persian denomination of the game.

Chess is a board game played by two opponents. A board with 64 black and white squares arranged alternately and 16 pieces for each player is used.

is victorious who manages to mate the opponent’s king. Each game requires great concentration and generates a very important emotional and physical load. Here are some key points that make chess a sport.

Concentration is key in chess, as it requires a great mental effort.

1. It is regulated and structured

The world chess championship has been held since 1886, long before the football championships. hockey, rugby, cycling, judo, volleyball or basketball. In addition, it has the logical rules of the game, a penalty system for breaches of the code of ethics and the anti-doping policy imposed by the IOC is used.

2. It’s competitive

Each game is a duel that can last for many hours or even days. There may be games of maximum tension in which the nerves, concentration, strategy and various abilities of the athletes play a fundamental role.

In chess, it is very likely that whoever makes a mistake will lose. So there is hardly any room for error.

In other words, before each movement there is a great responsibility that generates an important physical and psychological burden. In most sports, success can be achieved even when several mistakes are made or the opponent is superior for most of the event.

3. Mental effort and physical preparation

It is a strategy game in which the concentration and extension of the games can generate great wear. The difference with other sports is that effort and exhaustion are manifested in a different way.

Professional players, before the most important competitions, undergo conditioning and have teams of professionals who support them, such as coaches or advisors, nutritionists and psychologists. On the other hand, a study showed that performing chess training improves cognition, mood and quality of life.

4. It has international recognition

Chess was recognized as a sport by the IOC in June 1999. However, FIDE is still bidding to be included in the Olympic Games.

Until now, only exhibition games have been held in some events since 2004. The request for inclusion in the Paris 2024 Games would not be taken into account, as it is not an athletic practice.

Achieving it in the future, perhaps, would be the final battle so that there are no more doubts. What’s more, chess enjoys the endorsement of more than 100 countries. For example, 24 of the 28 countries of the European Union admit it as such, with the exception of the United Kingdom, Sweden, Belgium and Ireland.

The last Olympic Games did not feature chess as a competitive discipline. And it looks like they won’t be admitted to Paris 2024 either.


Benefits of playing chess

Playing chess brings us great benefits, mainly for the brain. It’s a game that demands planning, concentration and memorymaking it the ideal sport for exercising the mind.

A study carried out in China determined that professional chess experience modulates the homogeneity and functional connectivity patterns of the whole brain, as well as in the long term it can improve semantic and episodic processing, the efficiency of visual-motor transformation and the ability to cognitive.

Here are some benefits of its continued practice:

  • Improves concentration.
  • Encourages creativity.
  • Train the memory.
  • Improves work capacity in stressful situations.
  • It would help prevent Alzheimer’s.


Learn chess and play sports!

Chess allows us to work and develop the brain. In addition, it is an entertaining game that can be played by people of all ages.

In many cases, also serves as therapy, mainly for older adults. In children, it is a fully recommended game, as it helps them improve concentration, develop thinking and also promote social relationships. Learn to play chess and you will also be playing sports!

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