Examples of Mind Games
There are many good games for exercising your brainpower.
Here are some of the more common ones and how they may benefit
you. They are what I refer to as mind games. (The only ones here
that I regularly play are chess and Scrabble, although I have
tried all of the games listed.)
This classic word game can really help you learn a lot of
new words, especially if you play with an open-dictionary policy.
To win more often, though, remember that it really isn't just
a vocabulary game. There is a lot of strategy involved in figuring
out where to place your words. A player with a good understanding
of how to score the most points for each play can easily win
against one with a larger vocabulary.
This is historically THE thinker's game. Contrary to what
many think, though, it's definitely not just a left-brain analytical
exercise. It requires both hemispheres of the brain to play well.
The left-brain part is all about analyzing possible moves and
predicting responses. Grasping the spatial relationships on the
board and having an intuitive grasp of good positioning come
from the right-brain. Interestingly, many top players are also
musically talented, and handling music is right hemisphere function.
Long ago researchers noted that older people who regularly
did crosswords seemed to stay mentally sharper as they aged,
compared to those who didn't exercise their brains. Some recent
research has supported this idea. One of the primary advantages
of this as a mental exercise, is that it's a mind game you can
This game has recently become much more popular. It isn't
really about math skills as much as it is about deductive reasoning.
It also has the advantage of being a one-person activity, and
a book of these number puzzles can be carried with you.
It's not as popular as it used to be, but you can still buy
a Boggle game in most department stores. This word game is based
on speed, and on observation. Trying to quickly find words in
the letters is great for training your mind to observe and look
for patterns. You see an "s" for example, and watch
every noun thereafter to see if the "s" can be connected
to it for another word. It is of course a vocabulary game in
part, but pattern recognition skills will win you more games.
Poker is one of the best of the mind games because it requires
so many different mental skills. You have to learn about probabilities
and how to analyze a hand in relation to all the other information
you gather. You have to train yourself to be observant to gather
that information. Reading other people is a big part as well.
The whole process is directly beneficial to real life decision
making, because the poker develops your intuitive grasp of what
a "good bet" is.
Other Mind Games
Playing dominoes is a very analytical process if you make
it so. Gin rummy is another good game for developing pattern-recognition
skills. Monopoly (or the pricier "Cash Flow" game by
Robert Kiyosaki) is not only a good game for a mental workout,
but also a good way to learn basic real estate investing principles.