Get radical. Play chess.


I don’t want to lead a piece about Pemberton’s chess club with an infographic about the brain, because I think the brainy-stereotype has kept a lot of people away from playing chess.

But, let’s rethink that brain=nerd equation. In a recent interview with snowboarder Kevin Pearce, Kate MacLennan writes about the Love Your Brain foundation he established with his brother Adam. After suffering a life-altering concussion, the one-time Olympic gold medal contender dedicated himself to improving the quality of life of those who are affected by brain injury.

“We tend not to have a connection to our brains,” says Adam. “Everyone thinks the brain is the most important organ, but how many of us do things every day to promote brain health? How do you get people to care about this who haven’t had an injury? That’s the question we have to help answer and educate.”

Cognitive training and re-training is a hot topic. According to Psychology Today, the prefrontal cortex of the brain holds circuitry that can inhibit amygdala-drive impulses, helping us maintain emotional balance. Let us translate that for you: you may be inadvertently stimulating parts of your brain that make you feel crappy. Here’s the good news: you can also teach yourself to ‘think around’ that.

“When you forget something or knock over a glass of water—one of these things that happens more in my daily life than yours, probably—then you tend to put negative thoughts in your brain. You call yourself stupid, and that’s actually damaging for your brain and bad for you,” Kevin explains. “Our neuro-pathways are always trying to connect, which is harder to do when you have a brain injury, obviously, as they try to find a way around what you’ve damaged, and you can put negative stuff in and then can’t find your way back. But if you put positive thoughts in there it helps so much.”

So. Back to Chess. It is good for the brain. And it’s back, with Mr Los, every Tuesday in the Children’s Room at the Pemberton and District Library, from November 18.

And if you’re still thinking that chess club is just for the geeks, watch the documentary trailer below for the film Brooklyn Castle about an inner city New York school of marginalised kids who have been taking home chess trophies and trouncing the private school kids for years. Says the principal, it’s for everyone. Anyone can play. There’s a David and Goliath aspect to the story that I suspect will appeal to any fan of the Laoyam Eagles.