Brainpower Games Anyone Can Play

Brainpower games are those games which exercise your mental capacity. My personal favorite is Chess, but there are many others, some of which you probably already play or have played. Here is a look at a few of the more common ones and how they may help your mind.

Crossword Puzzles

For many years people have noticed that older folks who regularly did crosswords seemed to stay mentally sharper as they aged, compared to those who didn’t exercise their brains in similar ways. Recent research has supported this idea. As a mental exercise, one of the primary advantages of doing crossword puzzles is that it’s a brainpower game you can play by yourself.


Historically THE thinker’s game, chess is not – contrary to what many think – just a left-brain analytical contest. Playing well requires both hemispheres of the brain. Your left-brain will be analyzing possible moves and predicting responses of your opponent. Your right brain will be grasping the spatial relationships on the board and providing an intuitive grasp of good positioning. An interesting note: many top players are also musically talented, and handling music is right hemisphere function in most people.


You may think that this classic word game is all about vocabulary, and it can really help you learn a lot of new words, especially if you play with an open-dictionary rule. But to really play well, you have to learn strategy. You have to figure out where to place your words, and how to make multiple words in one play. A good understanding of how to score the most points on each turn can make you a better player than an opponent with a larger vocabulary.


Sudoku has recently become very popular, with the puzzle books appearing in most bookstores now, and even at grocery-store check-out displays. Though it’s all about numbers, it isn’t really about math skills as much as it is about deductive reasoning. Like crossword puzzles, it also has the advantage of being a one-person activity, and a small book of these puzzles can be carried with you anywhere.


Whether played for money or just chips, poker is one of the best of the brainpower games because it requires so many different kinds of mental skills. You need to understand probabilities and how to analyze a hand in relation to all the other information you have. You need to be observant to gather that information from the players around you. Learning to “read” other players is a big part of the game too. Poker is directly useful in training you for real life decision making, because it develops your intuitive grasp of what a “good bet” consists of.


While not as popular as it used to be, you can still buy a Boggle game in many department stores. It is a word game based on observation and fast thinking more than vocabulary. Attempting to quickly find words in the letters is great for training your mind to look for patterns. Once you notice an “s” for example, you can look at every noun thereafter to see if the “s” can be connected to it to create another word and more points. It is a vocabulary game in part, but decent pattern recognition skills are the best advantage you can have.

Some Other Brainpower Games

The game of dominoes can be very analytical if you play it well. Card games like gin rummy are good for developing pattern-recognition abilities. The classic board game, Monopoly, or the pricier “Cash Flow” game by Robert Kiyosaki, are both good brainpower games, as well as being good for learning real estate investing principles and habits.