Friday, October 24, 2014

DG XII: Doctor Jana Bellin

[Dr Jana Bellin] is willing to prepare a considered comment on the interesting matter of chess and seniors, people with Alzheimer's and so on. 
Stewart Reuben, EC Forum

I’m not a glass half-full person by nature. Not exactly half-empty either. By default setting I’m much more a 'there’s not enough water in the cup because somebody knocked it over and now I’ve got a big stain on my trousers and I’m going to have to walk around all afternoon looking like I’ve weed myself' kind of a guy.

Which is why I’m always pleased - if not outright surprised - when I am in a position to report some good news. And today is one of those days.

At the head of today’s blog we have a statement that Stewart Reuben posted on the EC Forum a week or so ago. It came in response to my query of an early post in which he had written,

Dr Jana Bellin has said we should be concentrating on chess as a means of delaying the onset of Alzheimer's.

What exactly had she said? That was my question. After all, there’s a world of difference between Doctor Coyle’s (see DG II and DG VII )
... seniors should be encouraged to read, play board games, and go ballroom dancing, because these activities, at the very least, enhance their quality of life, and they might just do more than that.

and Garry Kasparov tweeting that,
There are many studies showing positive effect of chess on delaying, improving dementia/Alzheimer’s.

without ever troubling himself to actually give details of any of those studies (see Doctor Garry Is In).

We might also ask who did Dr Bellin mean by "we"? Chessers? The medical world? Humanity? While we’re getting busy with the questions, who does she think is best served by playing chess? Older people? Or, as far as the impact on delaying onset of Alzheimer’s disease is concerned, does she feel that the beneficial effects of playing chess accrue over a life time? For that matter what does 'playing chess' even mean in this context? Does it have to be like we - club and tournament chessers - do it? Or is a more casual approach equally (less? more?) helpful?

For entirely understandable reasons, our Stewart is not able to provide answers. It was just a casual conversation, after all. No reason at all to expect him to have grasped every nuance of what Dr Bellin was trying to express. Even assuming that they had time for a full discussion on the matter which they quite possibly did not.

No matter. We will get Dr Bellin’s statement in good time. How gratifying to discover somebody who is busy and yet willing to take her time and really think about what she wants to say about chess and dementia rather than just throwing out some casual remarks as she could easily have done had she wanted to.

In some ways it doesn’t really matter what Dr Bellin ends up saying. Maybe we’ll agree with it. Maybe we won’t. Either way, she will at least have put some effort into it into it. After so much of the half-arsed 'any old bullshit will do' approach to chess and dementia, that feels like a step forward in and of itself.

Chess and Dementia Index

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