Who doesn’t want to have a sharp mind? Having a sharp mind is something we all want. I recently read a thought-provoking article about it entitled Cognitive Fitness in Harvard Business Review. The article talks about how the minds of people like Warren Buffet and Alan Greenspan stay sharp even in their old age.

Mind GamesWhat is the secret? The secret is brain workout. They exercise their brain continuously and that makes their minds sharp.

One way to exercise your brain is playing:

Play engages the prefrontal cortex, responsible for your highest-level cognitive functions – including self-knowledge, memory, mental imagery, and incentive and reward processing… Activities like bridge, chess, sudoku, role-playing games, and challenging crossword puzzles all provide rigorous neural workouts.

Looking at myself, I must admit that I do not play as much as I should. So I went around the web and searched for places where I can play games to have fun and exercise my brain. What I want are places where I can play for free and – whenever possible – play alone without having to find partners first. This way I can easily exercise my mind whenever I want.

Here I would like to share what I found along with resources to help you play those games better. But, first of all, here are some tips to get the most out of the games:

  1. Set aside time to play
    Though not everyday, you need to allocate time to play. This is not just playing anyway; this is time investment to sharpen your mind.
  2. Start with a game you are familiar with
    If you found it difficult to understand how to play a game, you might not be motivated to play. So start with the games you are familiar with. This way you can soon train your brain without being distracted by the game rules.
  3. Choose a new game later
    After you have played a game quite often, you should try a new game. It gives your brain a different kind of training that enriches it.
  4. Increase the level of difficulty
    Just like you should increase the weight you use in weight training to build your muscles, you should also increase the difficulty of the games you play to build your brain muscles. This way you stretch your mind beyond its current boundary.

With those tips in mind, here are 10 free mind games to exercise your brain:

1. Sudoku

About the game

SudokuSudoku is a logic-based number placement puzzle. The objective is to fill a 9×9 grid so that each column, each row, and each of the nine 3×3 boxes (also called blocks or regions) contains the digits from 1 to 9, only one time each (that is, exclusively). The puzzle setter provides a partially completed grid. (source)

Where to play

Resources

2. Chess

About the game

ChessChess is played on a square chequered chessboard with 64 squares arranged in an eight-by-eight square. At the start, each player (one controlling the white pieces, the other controlling the black pieces) controls sixteen pieces: one king, one queen, two rooks, two knights, two bishops, and eight pawns. The object of the game is to checkmate the opponent’s king, whereby the king is under immediate attack (in “check”) and there is no way to remove it from attack on the next move. (source)
For more information, see the rules of chess.

Where to play

Resources

3. Bridge

About the game

Bridge Contract bridge, usually known simply as bridge, is a trick-taking card game of skill and chance. It is played by four players who form two partnerships; the partners sit opposite each other at a table. The game consists of the auction (often called bidding) and play, after which the hand is scored. (source)
For more information, see the rules of bridge.

Where to play

These sites require you to log in and play against other human players. I couldn’t find free sites that allow you to play bridge online against computer.

Resources

4. Crossword

About the game

CrosswordA crossword is a word puzzle that normally takes the form of a square or rectangular grid of black and white squares. The goal is to fill the white squares with letters, forming words or phrases, by solving clues which lead to the answers. (source)

Where to play

Resources

5. Go

About the game

GoGo is played by two players alternately placing black and white stones on the vacant intersections of a line grid. The objective of the game is to control a larger part of the board than the opponent. (source)
For more information, see the rules of Go.

Where to play

Resources

6. Checkers

About the game

CheckersCheckers is a form of the draughts board game played on an 8×8 board with 12 pieces on each side that may only move and capture forward. (source)
For more information, see the rules of checkers.

Where to play

Resources

7. Reversi

About the game

ReversiReversi are names for a board game which involves play by two parties on an eight-by-eight square grid with pieces that have two distinct sides. The object of the game is to make your pieces constitute a majority of the pieces on the board at the end of the game, by turning over as many of your opponent’s pieces as possible. (source)
For more information, see the rules of Reversi.

Where to play

Resources

8. Connect Four

About the game

Connect FourConnect Four is a two-player board game in which the players take turns in dropping alternating colored discs into a seven-column, six-row vertically-suspended grid. The object of the game is to connect four singly-colored discs in a row — vertically, horizontally, or diagonally — before your opponent can do likewise. (source)

Where to play

Resources

9. Chinese Checkers

About the game

Chinese CheckersChinese checkers is a board game that can be played by two to six people. The objective of the game is to place one’s pieces in the corner opposite their starting position of a pitted 6-pointed star by single moves or jumps over other pieces. (source)
For more information, read the rules of Chinese checkers.

Where to play

Resources

10. Mastermind

About the game

MastermindMastermind is a simple code-breaking board game for two players (source). For more information, read the rules of Mastermind.

Where to play

Resource

***

The ten games above are enough to improve your brain fitness. But, in case you got bored, there are plenty of other mind games you can find on these sites:

Whatever game you choose, play it and boost your brain’s performance.

If you liked this article, please share it on StumbleUpon or del.icio.us. I’d appreciate it.

Photo by apesara


Categories: Health, Thinking

Please use your real name and note that I reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments.

  • http://stanleybronstein.com MrPositioning.com (Stanley Bronstein)

    Your article raises 2 important points.

    1) The need for play. Our minds need to let go every so often. Play is a great way to do it.

    2) The need to keep our brains exercised. Exercising the brain (especially as we get older) is vital if we want to stay young and healthy.

    Mr Positioning
    Stanley F. Bronstein
    Attorney, CPA, Author & Professional Motivational Speaker

  • http://www.lifeoptimizer.org Donald Latumahina

    Stanley,
    That’s right. We need to have fun and exercise our brain. The right kind of play can meet both needs.

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  • http://www.freethinkinggames.com Lily Byme

    Go is one of the most difficult games that I ever played. It has a long history and it definitely makes you think really, really hard. It definitely is interesting and will let you exercise your brain for sure.

  • http://www.lifeoptimizer.org Donald Latumahina

    Lily,
    I read a lot about Go when I was writing this post and it’s indeed a complex game. Even computers can’t handle Go well.

  • http://www.lookatmymuscles.com kent

    “brain age” for the nintendo ds is also a great brain trainer.

  • http://www.freebraingames.com filippo
  • http://www.onlinebraingamesblog.com gdash1

    Excellent article! I really enjoyed reading it and playing some of the games. Thanks for posting it!

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  • Ryan

    I am very surprised scrabble isn’t mentioned here, great noodle scratcher!

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  • Rajesh

    Thanks for the wonderful article. I grew up playing Chinese Chkers, Chess etc. but never realized what role these games are playing in my life. That was the time when computer/electronic games weren’t common. I found my nephews who grew up playing computer games, and never played board games like chess or checkers etc., are pretty smart and have excellent IQ. I would recommend users to try their hands on xbox, WII games too.. they have higher level of mind challenges in modern era.

  • http://playwithyourmind.com Alex

    Hi Donald

    Great article. How convenient it is we can keep our minds sharp by playing games!

    If you have a moment, please take a look at PlayWithYourMind.com and consider adding it to your list of mind games sites. It offers over 100 *original* brain games, mind exercises, puzzle and brainteasers.

    Thanks,
    Alex

  • http://www.sudokuarena.com Tom

    Try this colorful Sudoku at http://www.sudokuarena.com/ to please your eyes while entertaining your mind.

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  • raji

    send me some free mind games

  • sachin das

    send me some free mind games

  • AKM

    I have 5 of the games above: Sudoku, Chess, Crossword, Connect Four and Master Mind. I think I need to play them very often!!

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