Skilled chess players learn to anticipate an opponent’s next moves. To predict what another person will do next, a player must develop the ability to adopt another person’s perspective and infer what action they are likely to take.
It might not be surprising to learn that expert chess players have strong memory skills. After all, the game involves memorizing numerous combinations of moves and their potential outcomes.
People with lots of experience playing chess have highly developed thinking abilities in two areas (in addition to memory skills):
- Fluid intelligence. This is the ability to consider new kinds of problems and use reasoning to solve them.
- Processing speed. This is the ability to swiftly comprehend tasks and respond efficiently to challenges.
Flow is a deeply rewarding sense of total involvement, in which you’re operating at a peak performance level in a challenging task. Athletes, artists, and performers often describe entering a kind of time warp, where they are so wholly focused on the task at hand that their awareness of anything beyond the performance seems to disappear.
Chess games are known for long periods of silent contemplation, during which players consider each move. Players spend time anticipating their opponents’ responses and attempting to predict every eventuality.