An Alzheimer's Cure: Chess & Champagne At Simpsons

Discuss anything you like about chess related matters in this forum.
Roger de Coverly
Posts: 18344
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 2:51 pm

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

Post by Roger de Coverly » Wed Nov 18, 2015 1:19 pm

Nigel_Davies wrote:To then say that chess helps delay cognitive decline also seems reasonable, and I don't think that any of the researchers would object to this
In the context in which it is written, writers imply an exclusive property of chess.

This widely circulated article by a now former ECF Director is a case in point.
http://www.sportandrecreation.org.uk/bl ... tion-sport
Chess has health benefits. There is an emerging awareness of the effectiveness of chess in delaying the onset of Alzheimers.

User avatar
Nigel_Davies
Posts: 226
Joined: Sat May 17, 2008 12:00 am
Contact:

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

Post by Nigel_Davies » Wed Nov 18, 2015 1:29 pm

Roger de Coverly wrote: In the context in which it is written, writers imply an exclusive property of chess.

This widely circulated article by a now former ECF Director is a case in point.
http://www.sportandrecreation.org.uk/bl ... tion-sport
That seems to be largely a question of semantics and enthusiasm. As chess is on the list of 'stimulating activities' (and was cited in Ihor's link to the Wilson study) I think we can make these claims until another study comes along to show that chess doesn't actually have much effect. And if we want to avoid being savaged on blogs and forums it would be better to reword that slightly.

Jonathan Rogers
Posts: 4004
Joined: Tue Nov 18, 2008 9:26 pm

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

Post by Jonathan Rogers » Wed Nov 18, 2015 1:38 pm

Remarkably, a similar controversy has blown up in sudoku circles (or should that be squares)?

"I am fed up with al the misinformaton about sudoku" says one blogger. "People make any claims they want to about the puzzle solving past-time without any evidence and you can see that they just want people to buy books on solving techniques. It's an outrage. I've brought 200 books and I'm still pretty slow and useless".

Another agreed: "It all went downhill when they started to emphasise the communal benefits of sudoku solving, that you would make more friends on long distance commuting journeys, that you would have friendly races with the person next to you to see who could solve the Evening Standard problem the quicker. But there was no evidence of this at all. People who lost these contests could sometimes turn nasty. And all these commuter solvers were men, contrary to some of the images you might see on sudoku sites".

The problems recently came to a head when it was claimed that solving one sudoku puzzle every day might help alleviate the risk of developing Alzheimer's. "Verghese said nothing about sudoku at all" one blogger complains. "I know that people say that he mentioned crosswords, and besides sudoku hadn't even been invented at the time of his writings. But the fact remains that we don't know what he would have said of sudoku. We really have to wait for the next independent expert in the area to compile a comprehensive list of every single activity which is likely to help to prevent Alzheimer's before we start making any irresponsible claims".

User avatar
Nigel_Davies
Posts: 226
Joined: Sat May 17, 2008 12:00 am
Contact:

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

Post by Nigel_Davies » Wed Nov 18, 2015 2:16 pm

Jonathan Rogers wrote:Remarkably, a similar controversy has blown up in sudoku circles (or should that be squares)?
Reading this I'm actually amazed at the modesty of the ECF claims. They could have added how chess can help you make friends on trains and in parks, you just get your pocket set out and there's a good chance you'll be challenged. I've had this happen to me a few times in fact, though sadly it was only by bespectacled males.

http://tigerchess.com

User avatar
JustinHorton
Posts: 7176
Joined: Mon Aug 04, 2008 10:06 am
Location: Somewhere you're not

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

Post by JustinHorton » Wed Nov 18, 2015 6:13 pm

Ihor Lewyk wrote: He's obviously not an expert in the field of Alzheimer research
And yet there are people who are, and their professional concern is making recommendations regarding Alzheimer's, and yet they have unaccountably failed to see the benefits of our game.
"Do you play chess?"
"Yes, but I prefer a game with a better chance of cheating."

lostontime.blogspot.com

User avatar
Nigel_Davies
Posts: 226
Joined: Sat May 17, 2008 12:00 am
Contact:

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

Post by Nigel_Davies » Wed Nov 18, 2015 7:10 pm

JustinHorton wrote:And yet there are people who are, and their professional concern is making recommendations regarding Alzheimer's, and yet they have unaccountably failed to see the benefits of our game.
Sorry, but this is just not true. The researchers have examined the effects of 'stimulating mental activities' on the subjects of their studies, and they are consistently counting chess as one of these activities. The studies were not chess specific, nor were they jigsaw or crossword specific. So if people wish to be pedantic enough they can claim that any of the activities used may not produce the benefits recorded. Meanwhile, based on the studies we have, the best working assumption is that chess is suitable mental stimulation. It may of course be invalidated if a study just using chess is produced.

http://tigerchess.com

User avatar
JustinHorton
Posts: 7176
Joined: Mon Aug 04, 2008 10:06 am
Location: Somewhere you're not

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

Post by JustinHorton » Wed Nov 18, 2015 7:25 pm

Nigel_Davies wrote:
JustinHorton wrote:And yet there are people who are, and their professional concern is making recommendations regarding Alzheimer's, and yet they have unaccountably failed to see the benefits of our game.
Sorry, but this is just not true. The researchers
There was no reference to researchers in my posting.
"Do you play chess?"
"Yes, but I prefer a game with a better chance of cheating."

lostontime.blogspot.com

User avatar
Nigel_Davies
Posts: 226
Joined: Sat May 17, 2008 12:00 am
Contact:

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

Post by Nigel_Davies » Wed Nov 18, 2015 10:23 pm

JustinHorton wrote:There was no reference to researchers in my posting.
So you are shifting ground now from researchers (of a professional nature) to health care professionals. Presumably this means that you are conceding the points I've made that the claims made for chess are not unreasonable, based on existing research on mental stimulation.

With regard to the recommendations of health professionals working in the Alzheimer's field it will be a question of time before this research will become part of the standard recommendation. But some do seem to be adopting it already as you will see here:

http://www.alz.org/research/science/alz ... d_risk.asp

"Social connections and intellectual activity
A number of studies indicate that maintaining strong social connections and keeping mentally active as we age might lower the risk of cognitive decline and Alzheimer's. Experts are not certain about the reason for this association. It may be due to direct mechanisms through which social and mental stimulation strengthen connections between nerve cells in the brain."

http://tigerchess.com

User avatar
JustinHorton
Posts: 7176
Joined: Mon Aug 04, 2008 10:06 am
Location: Somewhere you're not

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

Post by JustinHorton » Wed Nov 18, 2015 10:41 pm

Nigel_Davies wrote:
JustinHorton wrote:There was no reference to researchers in my posting.
So you are shifting ground now from researchers (of a professional nature) to health care professionals.
No, I'm correcting your error.
Nigel_Davies wrote: Presumably this means that you are conceding the points I've made that the claims made for chess are not unreasonable
Well, perhaps presuming is something you ought to do a little less?
"Do you play chess?"
"Yes, but I prefer a game with a better chance of cheating."

lostontime.blogspot.com

User avatar
Nigel_Davies
Posts: 226
Joined: Sat May 17, 2008 12:00 am
Contact:

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

Post by Nigel_Davies » Wed Nov 18, 2015 11:43 pm

JustinHorton wrote:
Nigel_Davies wrote:
JustinHorton wrote:There was no reference to researchers in my posting.
So you are shifting ground now from researchers (of a professional nature) to health care professionals.
No, I'm correcting your error.
Nigel_Davies wrote: Presumably this means that you are conceding the points I've made that the claims made for chess are not unreasonable
Well, perhaps presuming is something you ought to do a little less?
OK, thanks for the discussion. I guess as your comments are public anyway you won't mind me quoting you in a future blog post?

http://tigerchess.com

Jonathan Bryant
Posts: 3175
Joined: Sun May 11, 2008 3:54 pm

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

Post by Jonathan Bryant » Thu Nov 19, 2015 7:44 am

Nigel_Davies wrote: So it's certainly true to say that activities that stimulate the mind, such as chess, have been shown to delay cognitive decline.
What a lot that could be said about posts on this thread. Let me just stick with my original question and ask it again here - as it wasn’t answered the first time around.

There is no dispute that chess can be counted as a mentally stimulating activity. What evidence do you have to support your assertion that these activities "have been shown to delay cognitive decline"?

Cite a research study - or several since your seem convinced that the evidence is all around. Your quote in a later post says "might", but there’s a huge jump from "might" to "shown". Where’s your evidence to support your claim that this matter has been conclusively settled?

User avatar
Ihor Lewyk
Posts: 112
Joined: Fri Mar 14, 2008 10:50 am
Contact:

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

Post by Ihor Lewyk » Thu Nov 19, 2015 11:31 am

Jonathan.

If the Alzheimers society themselves are promoting their name into research on testing brain games then surely you can be humble and accept you are wrong.

https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/braintraining

That was found on a 5 minute google search. Maybe you will argue that I still haven't found conclusive proof or research papers. I don't have time to trawl through the hundreds, yes hundreds of pages that link brain games with possible cures for Dementia. I just trust that the experts at the Alzheimers society are sufficiently motivated through what they know and understand.

Roger de Coverly
Posts: 18344
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 2:51 pm

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

Post by Roger de Coverly » Thu Nov 19, 2015 12:38 pm

Ihor Lewyk wrote: If the Alzheimers society themselves are promoting their name into research on testing brain games then surely you can be humble and accept you are wrong.
Researching testing brain games certainly, but that isn't a claim in favour of chess. Who knows, they might conclude that chess at a competitive level is in fact harmful, all that sitting down for lengthy periods with heavy concentration actually being a risk factor.

User avatar
JustinHorton
Posts: 7176
Joined: Mon Aug 04, 2008 10:06 am
Location: Somewhere you're not

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

Post by JustinHorton » Thu Nov 19, 2015 1:45 pm

Ihor Lewyk wrote:Jonathan.

If the Alzheimers society themselves are promoting their name into research on testing brain games then surely you can be humble and accept you are wrong.

https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/braintraining

That was found on a 5 minute google search.
I wonder whether finding things in five minute Google searches may be part of the problem?
Ihor Lewyk wrote:
Maybe you will argue that I still haven't found conclusive proof
Of what? It's completely unclear to me what point you're even trying to make here. What do you think the research indicates regarding "brain training games" and Alzheimer's?
"Do you play chess?"
"Yes, but I prefer a game with a better chance of cheating."

lostontime.blogspot.com

Ian Kingston
Posts: 1070
Joined: Sat Apr 14, 2007 3:16 pm
Location: Sutton Coldfield
Contact:

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

Post by Ian Kingston » Thu Nov 19, 2015 2:01 pm

I posted this at the S&B blog a while ago, but I'll repeat it here. It's not chess, but it might be considered relevant:
Park, D. C. Park, Lodi-Smith, J. Drew, L., Haber, S., Hebrank, A. Bischof, G. N. and Aamodt, W. (2014) The impact of sustained engagement on cognitive function in older adults. Psychological Science, 25(1), 103-112. http://pss.sagepub.com/content/25/1/103.full

There is a popular account of the research here: http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shot ... rain-sharp.

The general conclusion is that learning a new skill (quilting and digital photography in the study) improves memory in older people. So it might be that learning to play chess would help, but simply continuing to play the game wouldn't.
Just now I also found this:

The impacts of a GO-game (Chinese chess) intervention on Alzheimer disease in a Northeast Chinese population

Ultra-brief summary: 'A GO-game intervention ameliorates AD [Alzheimer Disease] manifestations by up-regulating BDNF [brain-derived neurotrophic factor] levels'. However, the patients in this study already had Alzheimer's, so we're not talking about preventive effects. GO is not chess, but I think it's similar enough that it strengthens the case that chess might have benefits.

However, if we accept, for the sake of argument, that chess has benefits in dealing with Alzheimer's, does it have any special advantages over digital photography, quilting (you do at least get a tangible end result with those) or GO? And what about other activities? (As an aside, I see a parallel here with the arguments about the teaching of chess in schools. It's possible - even plausible - that chess will help in both cases, but is it the best way to tackle the problem?)

And why are we making the claim anyway? To get funding for chess? Are we planning to send chess teachers into care homes? Who's going to pay for that? Or are we just trying to get more people playing the game? Personally, I don't see a huge benefit to the broader chess community in having an influx of 65-year-old beginners, and in any case it would only reinforce the image of chess as an old person's game - hardly what we want.

If anyone wants to try to track down any further evidence, PubMed, the database of peer-reviewed medical research publications, is an obvious place to start. But here's a hint: entering 'chess' and 'dementia' as your search terms will give you just nine results (one of which is only there because the author's surname is 'Chess'). Search for 'chess' and 'Alzheimer' and you'll get five more. You may need to be more creative in your search terms.

Post Reply