An Alzheimer's Cure: Chess & Champagne At Simpsons

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Nigel_Davies
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An Alzheimer's Cure: Chess & Champagne At Simpsons

Post by Nigel_Davies » Tue Nov 17, 2015 10:05 am

I thought there might be some interest in my latest Chess Improver blog post:

http://chessimprover.com/a-new-recipe-a ... -simpsons/

Nigel Davies

http://chessimprover.com/

http://tigerchess.com/

Jonathan Bryant
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Re: An Alzheimer's Cure: Chess & Champagne At Simpsons

Post by Jonathan Bryant » Tue Nov 17, 2015 1:20 pm

"A compound found in Pinot noir and Pinot meunier grapes used to make bubbly, is said to prevent the onset of the brain diseases.

The research, which was based on an experiment involving rats .... "

I wouldn’t hold out too much hope for the champagne bit then. As for chess and Alzheimer’s,

Nigel writes >>> "... whilst there are those who have challenged the growing evidence ...."

I challenge him to provide details of this "evidence" - a research paper, say - and demonstrate how it is "growing".

MartinCarpenter
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Re: An Alzheimer's Cure: Chess & Champagne At Simpsons

Post by MartinCarpenter » Tue Nov 17, 2015 2:11 pm

If the hypothesis is that keeping yourself mentally alert can help, then I think its self suggesting enough you'd want concrete evidence against it. Specifically chess vs other stuff? Doubt it.

Similar with physical fitness, and of course all of this is on a general population health level - not specific cases.

The champagne does seem rather unlikely, as with most such articles :)

Jonathan Bryant
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Re: An Alzheimer's Cure: Chess & Champagne At Simpsons

Post by Jonathan Bryant » Tue Nov 17, 2015 2:31 pm

MartinCarpenter wrote:If the hypothesis is that keeping yourself mentally alert can help, then I think its self suggesting enough you'd want concrete evidence against it.
Well you might think that, but that’s opinion not evidence. And - no offence - it’s a silly opinion.

Clearly staying "mentally alert" is not a bad thing. On the contrary, it’s obviously an inherently good thing. There’s a big jump between that and "is useful with regard to dementia outcomes", though.

Should you want something specific, there’s always the recent (i.e October 2015) NICE recommendations about midlife approaches to boost chances of dementia prevention - which contain no mention of mental activity.

http://streathambrixtonchess.blogspot.c ... ealth.html
(that post, btw, proposes a chess-based intervention for older people without resorting to fanciful claims or vague appeals to non-existent evidence)

Thereafter, as you say there’s the whole issue of whether staying mentally alert = playing chess (which of course it doesn’t).



If you want to review the actual evidence with regard to chess and dementia - there’s plenty on mental activity and the impact it might have on dementia - you could perhaps start here.

http://www.streathambrixtonchess.blogsp ... -pile.html


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Christopher Kreuzer
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Re: An Alzheimer's Cure: Chess & Champagne At Simpsons

Post by Christopher Kreuzer » Tue Nov 17, 2015 3:27 pm

Evidence in this case would be something more like a systematic review of the literature and use of evidence-based medicine:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Systematic_review
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evidence-based_medicine

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Ihor Lewyk
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Re: An Alzheimer's Cure: Chess & Champagne At Simpsons

Post by Ihor Lewyk » Tue Nov 17, 2015 3:39 pm

Thanks Chris,
I'm aware of the definition but I'm not a scientist.
Is it safe to assume that when papers are written by scientists and journalists are quoting them as evidence then so can we?
The collective sources quoted above hold a bit more reputation that the Streatham Blog thingy that was used earlier.

MartinCarpenter
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Re: An Alzheimer's Cure: Chess & Champagne At Simpsons

Post by MartinCarpenter » Tue Nov 17, 2015 3:53 pm

It gets tricky with population health studies. Look how long it took to pin down something as lethally dangerous as smoking :( Yes money vs that but still. Anything relating to this is going to be quite a small effect seen quite late in life, so horribly hard to be sure about. Can't do a double blind trial or anything.

If you took a cohort of chess players vs non chess players you'd have to balance for all the other things, like the chess players tending to be a little richer, better educated etc etc.

Those Nice guidlines are actually about, "Dementia, disability and frailty in later life". So its mostly about keeping the basic population fitness as high as sensibly possible. For that of course, stuff like smoking, obesity, binge drinking etc are all such huge effects that little else matters. Of course, if we quite all those self destructive behaviours today, I guess Dementia rates in the UK would actually go up. So many people living for significantly longer!

Nice do mention mental happiness mattering, but I'm not sure if chess really does that! Can be an awfully brutal game at times.

Andrew Bak
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Re: An Alzheimer's Cure: Chess & Champagne At Simpsons

Post by Andrew Bak » Tue Nov 17, 2015 4:02 pm

The problem with news articles about scientific studies is that they are notorious for distorting the actual findings of the study.

This often isn't intentional, it's more that news outlets have got rid of their science writers and instead get lay journos to write these articles and they don't fully understand the field.

PeterFarr
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Re: An Alzheimer's Cure: Chess & Champagne At Simpsons

Post by PeterFarr » Tue Nov 17, 2015 6:01 pm

No they don't, largely for the reasons mentioned by Andrew Bak; and journalists love a simple headline. Jonathan Bryant has gone through this subject in a lot more detail and with a lot more rigour on the S&B blog. It may not have as much kudos as the New York Times, but that doesn't make the S&B stuff wrong.

There seems to be a common conception that anything that appears to promote chess is fair game, but in this case it really is too important a subject to treat lightly.

In any case, I think it's the wrong way to promote chess; it should be sold on its own merits for the enjoyment ( and heartache) of the game, rather than as medicine.

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Nigel_Davies
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Re: An Alzheimer's Cure: Chess & Champagne At Simpsons

Post by Nigel_Davies » Tue Nov 17, 2015 7:15 pm

It is indeed difficult to get a really good study, which is why I think that when Verghese mentioned 'board games' and we have other less rigorous material supporting chess it's reasonable to make a working assumption that playing chess is a good bet against Alzheimer's, along with other activities. I'd also argue that the simple headlines have their place in convincing people to do activities like chess, and especially when we consider the human and healthcare costs at stake. There is probably far less support for giving kids homework, but this doesn't stop it being given out on a massive scale and with widespread popular acceptance.

http://tigerchess.com

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JustinHorton
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Re: An Alzheimer's Cure: Chess & Champagne At Simpsons

Post by JustinHorton » Tue Nov 17, 2015 7:19 pm

Nigel_Davies wrote: it's reasonable to make a working assumption that playing chess is a good bet against Alzheimer's
Though not so reasonable that reputable health organisations are saying so.

Chess professionals seem much more keen on this than health professionals. Could anybody speculate as to why this might be?
"Do you play chess?"
"Yes, but I prefer a game with a better chance of cheating."

lostontime.blogspot.com

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Nigel_Davies
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Re: An Alzheimer's Cure: Chess & Champagne At Simpsons

Post by Nigel_Davies » Tue Nov 17, 2015 7:23 pm

JustinHorton wrote:Chess professionals seem much more keen on this than health professionals. Could anybody speculate as to why this might be?
They might also wish to speculate why certain bloggers are so keen on undermining the idea that chess is good against Alzheimer's. A search for 'truth' doesn't come even close to explaining the rabid enthusiasm with which this is being done.

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JustinHorton
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Re: An Alzheimer's Cure: Chess & Champagne At Simpsons

Post by JustinHorton » Tue Nov 17, 2015 8:46 pm

I'd be very keen to see these speculations.
"Do you play chess?"
"Yes, but I prefer a game with a better chance of cheating."

lostontime.blogspot.com

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Nigel_Davies
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Re: An Alzheimer's Cure: Chess & Champagne At Simpsons

Post by Nigel_Davies » Tue Nov 17, 2015 9:53 pm

JustinHorton wrote:I'd be very keen to see these speculations.
Let me help you out. What you're hoping to see is an accusation that the 'Verghese bullshitters' (Garry Kasparov, Raymond Keene, Susan Polgar, myself and doubtless various others) will somehow be enriched by popularizing chess in this way. But none of us derive income from entry level chess players, in fact Streatham & Brixton Chess Club would be far more likely to benefit through a possible influx in new members.

As for my own reasons for trying to promote chess, I've spent the vast majority of my life doing chess and I genuinely believe it is an amazing activity for personal development, which can therefore benefit the World at large. Now to do this it's not fair on chess to demand a higher level of proof of its benefits than other activities are touting (football, bungee jumping, Xbox, homework whatever), chess is in a competition with these things for peoples' time and attention. So it's reasonable, in my view, to go with what we've got, and maybe some day there will be something more definitive.

So now it's your turn. Why does the Streatham and Brixton blog try to undermine these attempts? Is it some deliberate attempt to discourage people from taking the game up? If so then why?

http://tigerchess.com

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