Therapeutic chess in pensioners’ clubs

By | February 1, 2024

🔍 We would like to congratulate Pep Suarez and the Olimpia Chess Academy for being selected for the
Call for Social Projects in the Balearic Islands. Their work in pensioners’ clubs provides an example that a society that cares for its elderly fosters a sense of social cohesion and compassion. It sends a message that every individual, regardless of age is valued and an integral part of the community.

Chess is used in many different fields to provide a meaningful and transformative experience. It is widely used for its benefits in education, psychology, and even health care. Chess has the power of inclusion to form communities that enrich various aspects of human life.

Pep, José Francisco Suárez from Menorca (Balearic Islands) has been working in health care for 30 years as a psychologist by profession. (PhD in Psychology, Master in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy). He is a member of the Education Commission of the European Chess Union (ECU), a chess teacher trainer, a university lecturer and a project manager of several chess projects using chess as an educational and therapeutic tool.

He is also the founder of the Olimpia Chess Academy which is carrying out extraordinary work in the field of therapeutic chess, especially in pensioners’ clubs on the Balearic Island to fight against Alzheimer’s disease. Their initiative was selected and supported by the Call for Social Projects of the ”la Caixa” Foundation which has promoted 445 projects in the Balearic Islands from 1999 to 2023 to serve more than 107,000 people and nearly 20,000 people in vulnerable situations.

Award-winning projects in 2023
Pep Suárez, was invited to introduce their project in Palma de Mallorca on the 29th of January 2024

“It is a great joy and a responsibility for us as a small association working on the therapeutic aspect of chess with projects such as this one and others together with TEA & FIDE, or the new project for the prevention of youth suicide. We would like to thank the support from the Foundation and the Council of Menorca, Mallorca and Eivissa for their support.”

It is the continuity of the pilot program promoted with the support of the local councils to work on memory and the prevention of cognitive decline in elderly people. Cognitive and social skills can be improved this way, supported by studies from the University of Alcalá de Henares.

Therapeutic chess has become increasingly recognised for its mental health benefits. The Olimpia Chess Academy has been leading this movement in the Balearic Islands, offering carefully designed activities, such as introducing mini-games, solving chess problems, analysing historical games and playing friendly games.

Seniors exercise their minds in a fun and stimulating way. In the Balearic retirement clubs, participants not only enjoy the game of chess but also benefit from its positive impact on brain health. The focus on memory, pattern recognition and symmetries not only strengthens cognitive skills but also helps participants stay mentally agile and active. In addition, chess encourages socialisation, providing a space for social interaction and fellowship among club members.

A society that cares for its elderly fosters a sense of social cohesion and compassion. It sends a message that every individual, regardless of age, is valued and an integral part of the community.

The dedicated work being carried out by the Olimpia Chess Academy in the Balearic retirement clubs highlights the importance of adopting holistic approaches to health care for the elderly. Integrating therapeutic chess into their daily lives promotes physical, mental and emotional well-being, thus contributing to a fuller and more satisfying quality of life.