Chess Practice as a Protective Factor in Dementia

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2019 Jun 14;16(12):2116. doi: 10.3390/ijerph16122116.


Background: dementia is one of the main causes of disability and dependency among the older population worldwide, producing physical, psychological, social and economic impact in those affected, caregivers, families and societies. However, little is known about dementia protective factors and their potential benefits against disease decline in the diagnosed population. Cognitive stimulating activities seem to be protective factors against dementia, though there is paucity in the scientific evidence confirming this, with most publications focusing on prevention in non-diagnosed people. A scoping review was conducted to explore whether chess practice could mitigate signs, deliver benefits, or improve cognitive capacities of individuals diagnosed with dementia through the available literature, and therefore act as a protective factor.

Methods: twenty-one articles were selected after applying inclusion and exclusion criteria.

Results: the overall findings stress that chess could lead to prevention in non-diagnosed populations, while little has been shown with respect to individuals already diagnosed. However, some authors suggest its capacity as a protective factor due to its benefits, and the evidence related to the cognitive functions associated with the game.

Conclusion: although chess is indirectly assumed to be a protective factor due to its cognitive benefits, more studies are required to demonstrate, with strong evidence, whether chess could be a protective factor against dementia within the diagnosed population.

Keywords: Alzheimer disease; chess; dementia; protective factor; scoping review.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Dementia / prevention & control*
  • Games, Recreational*
  • Humans
  • Protective Factors