Pope suggests playing checkers to keep the mind sharp

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- While misusing modern forms of media dulls the mind, games like checkers are a simple way to stimulate one's intellect and foster community, Pope Francis said.

Checkers "is a game that exercises (one's) logical ability," the pope told members of the Italian Checkers Foundation April 26. "And there is a need for it, because abuse of new media instead puts it to sleep."

Pope Francis praised the game of checkers for its "two nice characteristics: it stimulates the mind and is accessible to all."

Checkers, he said, "requires intelligence, ability and attention" but does not require fancy equipment, so the game can "easily create a moment of encounter and fun."

"This makes it so that checkers can be a game for all, played in various parts of the world," he said. "For example, it turns out that it is one of the most common forms of recreation among the migrants who reach our shores."

Migrant brothers and sisters, "in situations of great uncertainty and apprehension, find relief by playing checkers, sometimes together with the people that welcome them, in simplicity and in sharing," he said.

The Italian Checkers Federation is marking its 100th anniversary in 2024. As a gift, members of the federation, wearing blue tracksuits with "Italia" printed along the back, gave the pope his own wooden checkerboard.