Article by WIM Beatriz Marinello

When I first saw this amazing video (check out the new NBA promo video in sidebar), I immediately remembered, a program at the Yonkers Housing Authority in New York State called “Smart Basketball”.

The young players were required to play chess prior to starting their basketball practice.

This program was instituted by Mr. Peter Smith, Executive Director of the YHA at the time.

So, how is basketball like a game of chess?

In James Case’s book, CompetitionThe Birth of a New Science, this question is asked:

“What do chess-playing, computer programs, biological evolution, competitive sports, gambling, alternative voting systems, public auctions, corporate globalization, and class warfare have in common?”

The answer inevitably comes…

“All are manifestations of a new paradigm in scientific thinking, which James Case calls “the emerging science of competition.”

“…Case explores the common game-theoretic strands that tie these seemingly unrelated fields together, showing how each can be better understood in the shared light of the others.”

Another, recently published book, Spark! by Dr. John Ratey says:

“…excercise provides an unparelled stimulus creating an environment in which the brain is ready, willing and able to learn.”

“…physical exercise unleashes certain chemicals in the bloodstream, which leads to direct, positive changes in the brain. One of these chemicals is the protein called BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor), known for the impact it has on brain development.”

In other words, exercise makes us smarter…

So, what do you think?

If this is the case, shouldn’t chess be played after a strenuous game of basketball to improve your game, or, should you play chess before basketball to improve your slam dunk abilities?

I say, Peter Smith had it right, stretch the chess muscles, so in the case that you lose, perhaps letting off a little steam with a game of ball will cool you off.