Efficacy of chess training for the treatment of ADHD: A prospective, open label study

Rev Psiquiatr Salud Ment. 2016 Jan-Mar;9(1):13-21. doi: 10.1016/j.rpsm.2015.02.003. Epub 2015 Apr 22.
[Article in English, Spanish]


Objective: To examine the effectiveness of playing chess as a treatment option for children with ADHD.

Methods: Parents of 44 children ages 6 to 17 with a primary diagnosis of ADHD consented to take part in the study. Parents completed the Spanish version of the Swanson, Nolan and Pelham Scale for parents (SNAP-IV) and the Abbreviated Conner's Rating Scales for parents (CPRS-HI) prior to an 11-week chess-training program. We used a paired t-test to compare pre- and post-intervention outcomes, and Cohen-d calculations to measure the magnitude of the effect. The statistical significance was set at P<.05.

Results: Children with ADHD improved in both the SNAP-IV (t=6.23; degrees of freedom (df)=41; P<.001) and the CPRS-HI (t=5.39; df=33; P<.001). Our results suggest a large effect in decreasing the severity of ADHD as measured by the SNAP-IV (d=0.85) and the CPRS-HI (d=0.85). Furthermore, we found a correlation between intelligence quotient and SNAP-IV improvement (P<.05).

Conclusions: The results of our pilot study should be interpreted with caution. This pilot project highlights the importance of carrying out larger studies with a case-control design. If our results are replicated in better designed studies, playing chess could be included within the multimodal treatment of ADHD.

Keywords: ADHD; Ajedrez; Chess; Trastorno por déficit de atención e hiperactividad; Tratamiento multimodal; Treatment.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / diagnosis
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / therapy*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Games, Recreational*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pilot Projects
  • Prospective Studies
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Treatment Outcome