Chess is a complementary therapeutic activity highly recommended for people with ADHD.

Within the context of the multimodal treatment in ADHD, practicing chess is remarkably beneficious and useful if introduced at the right time and with the appropriate methodology.


Like other games and activities that require attention, concentration, and certain sustained effort, the benefits of playing chess are surprising; even if, beforehand, activities that demand continuous effort might not have been advised.

For chess to have an efficient and positive influence in the lives of patients diagnosed with ADHD, it is essential to convey a concrete methodology, after all, that is the primary goal.

chess as therapy for adhd

Moreover, it is of the utmost importance to always bear in mind the patients’ concrete capabilities to tailor their mental efforts.

A study published in the “Psiquiatría y Salud Mental” magazine authored by Dr. Hilario Blasco, an expert in the subject, demonstrates that chess could be a therapeutic alternative in mild ADHD patients, and a complement to pharmacological treatment for all other cases.

Dr. Hilario Blasco makes a few recommendations:

  • Chess finds its place in multimodal treatment, which stems from the combination of three foundations: pharmacological treatment, psychotherapy, and psychoeducation, in addition to diets or exercise, depending on the patient´s needs.

  • It is worth mentioning that chess should not substitute medication, except perhaps in mild ADHD diagnosis. Chess complements other treatments encompassed by ADHD´s multimodal treatment.

  • It emphasizes that Chess cannot be a substitute for pharmacological treatment if the ADHD diagnoses are severe, but it may be a possibility when treating mild ADHD diagnosis.

  • The monitor´s training and principles are the two most important factors to teach children with ADHD how to play chess.

  • Chess is not magic. Like any sport, it must be practiced frequently to have a therapeutic effect. It can be compared with going to the gym. When someone lifts 10 kilograms on the first day, as time goes by, if they continue to train, they might be able to lift two times that weight.

  • Playing chess can give information about the patient’s progress. It is possible to perceive when a move is planned, when there is impulse control, etc.


mental training with chess

Mental training based on chess: a) directly, by playing, investigating, or studying chess; or b) indirectly, by doing key concrete exercises based on chess that stimulates certain cognitive abilities, could prove very helpful for people diagnosed with ADHD.

  • The human brain has great plasticity, and as such, it behaves like other muscles; therefore, it actively responds to tasks and stimuli through training.

  • Ultimately, capacities such as memory, special visualization, calculation, concentration, perception, reasoning, executive functions, time management, etc. can significantly improve, as long as it is done with the appropriate methodology.

For patients diagnosed with ADHD (both during childhood or adulthood) playing chess positively influences their lives.

In particular, as Dr. Hilario Blasco points out:

1. ADHD symptoms improvement. Progress in hyperactivity, impulsivity and inattention symptoms.
2. Generates habits and behavioral patterns. Systematic Chess practice, like other disciplines that require certain tranquility and concentration and are practiced frequently, contributes to creating a space to play Chess, both physical and conceptual, which efficiently helps to generate habits.
3. Trains reflective decision making. Chess is a tool that requires decision-making practice, with rights and wrongs, but in a reflective way. Exactly the opposite of what occurs in people with ADHD.
4. Improves cognitive and social skills. It has been proved that chess significantly improves cognitive skills, problem-solving and the capacity to adapt to reality. Furthermore, the fact that it is a two-member sport facilitates the interaction between both players and helps interpersonal difficulty disorders.

autism down syndrome asperger syndrome

5. Improvements in self-esteem and frustration tolerance. Both when playing well or when losing, brilliant plays are performed and cardinal mistakes are committed, positive emotions are produced, and negative emotions are being controlled through mechanisms that regulate impulsivity.
6. Increased visual and working memory. This is due to the memorization of movement patterns, in addition to planning and organizing that is needed to develop a move. It also benefits spatial vision memory.
7. The use of tools. The use of tools, such as the ones offered in our training program, allow activity monitoring, real progress can be measured, and it is possible to compare them with other circumstances. In essence, it is an excellent tool for diagnose follow-up and for complementary diagnosis.


Attention is now turning also to the areas of Autism, Asperger Syndrome and Down Syndrome. Dr Sandra Maria Guisso reported in 2017 to the FIDE Social Projects Commission about a very successful intervention with a nine-year-old autistic child in Brazil.

An increasing amount of attention is being paid to the health benefits of chess. These are mostly quite recent discoveries and point to the great value of learning chess during childhood since it seems to confer health benefits almost from the cradle to the grave.

They can be summarized as:

  • Chess leads to an improvement in cognitive functioning and has been cited as a significant tool in the fight against Alzheimer’s.

  • Chess can help patients who have suffered from stroke to recover.

  • Chess assists recovery in people suffering from physical and emotional disability.

improve concentracion
  • Chess helps to prevent anxiety and depression by encouraging self-improvement, improving self-esteem and self-confidence. By contrast, excessive time spent on activities that do not challenge the brain, particularly tv watching, has been linked to an increased incidence of depression.

  • Chess (as recreational therapy) helps prevent or reduce non-adaptive or inappropriate behaviour.


People diagnosed with ADHD frequently present some of these characteristics:

  • Dependence on adult approval

  • Have difficulties waiting for their turn, usually interrupt or interfere on other people’s activities

  • Have a need to attract attention

  • Struggle at playing quiet and restful activities, and more if they demand certain concentration level

Our Training Plans based on chess are an efficient tool to improve these aspects.

Choose the right Training Plan