Why chess is a better game than golf


I asked ChatGPT to write this blog post. Here’s what it came up with.


John Paul Helveston



If you’ve been paying attention to AI progress in 2022, you almost certainly have heard of ChatGPT, an AI engine made by Open AI, that can generate remarkably detailed text and code to prompts. Like many, I wanted to test it out to see what it could come up with. This post summarizes the results of that experiment.

This initial post is based on the very first publicly available chat engine, ChatGPT, which is based on GPT3. In the future, I plan to update this post with responses from increasingly performant chat AIs to the exact same prompts.

Round 1

My starting prompt for this post was quite simple:

Write a blog post arguing why chess is a much better game for people to adopt than golf.

I chose this prompt for several reasons. First, it asks for an argumentative blog post, and I wanted to see how well the chat AI would do at coming up with some arguments for this topic. Second, I wanted to see what the AI would write on a topic that I haven’t seen someone else write about before. I tried to think of something relatively obscure, but specific enough that there might be some clear, logical arguments.

But most importantly, I wanted to see what specific arguments the AI would use. There are some rather obvious social and environmental aspects to this topic, such as the difference in resource requirements to play each game (golf, for example, requires a lot more land). Both games are also social activities, and both can be played across just about all ages. There are also mental and health benefits to each game. I was curious what arguments the AI would use with no further prompting.

Here is what it produced based on the first prompt:

Chess and golf are both popular leisure activities that require strategy, skill, and mental focus. However, there are several reasons why chess is a much better game for people to adopt than golf.

First, chess is a much more accessible and affordable game than golf. While golf requires expensive equipment and exclusive membership to a club or course, all you need to play chess is a chessboard and pieces, which can be purchased for a relatively low cost. Additionally, chess can be played anywhere, whether it’s at home, in a park, or online, while golf requires a dedicated course.

Second, chess is a more inclusive game than golf. Golf has a reputation for being a primarily wealthy and white-dominated sport, while chess has a more diverse player base and is more accessible to people of different socio-economic backgrounds.

Third, chess has a range of benefits for the mind and body. Studies have shown that playing chess can improve problem-solving skills, critical thinking, and memory, as well as reduce the risk of developing conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Golf, on the other hand, has fewer cognitive benefits and requires more physical exertion, making it less suitable for those with mobility issues or disabilities.

Finally, chess is a more universal and timeless game than golf. While golf is primarily popular in certain parts of the world and has a somewhat limited appeal, chess is played and enjoyed by people all over the globe, and its popularity has endured for centuries.

In conclusion, chess is a superior game to golf for several reasons. It is more accessible, inclusive, beneficial for the mind, and universal in its appeal. If you’re looking for a strategic and mentally stimulating activity, chess is the clear choice.

Overall, not too shabby for a single-line prompt. But the post itself was rather simple and robotic. The writing structure is about as basic as you could get, and the arguments are all pretty obvious. For a grade school writing assignment, this would pass, but it’s nothing I would be excited about reading.

That said, I found it impressive that I didn’t even need to prompt it about including social aspects around this topic. The response highlighted the exclusivity of golf, and it also mentioned something about health benefits from chess.

But the biggest flaw I saw was the lack of any references to some of the claims in the post. In particular, the AI wrote a sentence stating that “studies have shown that playing chess can…reduce the risk of developing conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.” Any post that includes a line like that better have some references to those “studies.” So I updated my prompt asking explicitly for references. I also asked the AI to include details about the environmental impacts of golf as that is a well-known issue with the game.

Round 2

My second prompt read:

I want you to write me a blog post. This post should include technical details to support any arguments provided to it. The topic of the post is to argue why chess is a much better game for people to adopt than golf. Include details about the environmental damages from golf as well as information about the social dynamic of golf, such as networking benefits.

Here is the response I got:

Certainly, here is a blog post arguing why chess is a better game than golf:

Why Chess is a Better Game than Golf

Golf is a popular leisure activity enjoyed by millions of people around the world, but it is not without its drawbacks. In contrast, chess is a game that offers numerous benefits and is a superior choice for those looking for a challenging and rewarding pastime.

One of the main criticisms of golf is its environmental impact, particularly with regard to land use. Golf courses require a significant amount of land to be developed and maintained, and this land is often taken from natural habitats. According to a study published in the Journal of Environmental Management, the average golf course in the United States occupies approximately 120 acres (48.5 hectares) of land (Karecha, Jorgensen, & Madsen, 2002). This land is often not available for other uses, such as agriculture or housing, leading to a loss of ecosystem services and biodiversity (Karecha et al., 2002). In addition, the chemicals used to keep the greens and fairways in pristine condition can have negative impacts on local ecosystems (Karecha et al., 2002). In contrast, chess requires no physical space or resources beyond a board and pieces, making it a more environmentally friendly option.

Golf can also be a divisive and exclusive activity. Golf courses and club memberships are often expensive, making them out of reach for many people. This exclusivity can create a social hierarchy and foster a culture of elitism. In contrast, chess is a game that can be enjoyed by people of all ages, backgrounds, and skill levels. It requires no special equipment or facilities, making it accessible to everyone.

But while golf may be traditionally seen as a game for social networking, chess can offer similar opportunities for social interaction and networking. Many chess clubs and organizations exist worldwide, providing a platform for people with a shared interest in the game to come together and socialize. These clubs often host tournaments and other events, providing opportunities for players to compete and meet new people. In addition, the internet has made it possible for chess players to connect and play with others online, further expanding the potential for social interaction and networking.

Perhaps the most compelling reason to choose chess over golf is the cognitive benefits of the game. Chess is a highly strategic and challenging game that requires deep concentration and problem-solving skills. It has been shown to improve brain function, including memory, critical thinking, and decision-making skills (Gauthier, Tardif, & Belleville, 2010). In contrast, golf is often viewed as a leisurely activity that does not offer the same level of mental stimulation.

In conclusion, chess is a superior game to golf for a variety of reasons. It is environmentally friendly, particularly with regard to land use and chemical use, accessible to all, and offers significant cognitive benefits. It can also provide opportunities for social interaction and networking. If you’re looking for a challenging and rewarding pastime, consider giving chess a try. You might be surprised at how much you enjoy it.


Gauthier, S., Tardif, C., & Belleville, S. (2010). The benefits of chess for children’s cognitive and social development: A systematic review. Frontiers in Psychology, 1, 186. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2010.00186

Karecha, J., Jorgensen, B. E., & Madsen, J. (2002). The environmental impacts of golf courses: A review. Journal of Environmental Management, 66(3), 319-334. https://doi.org/10.1006/jema.2002.0490

These additions felt a lot more impactful than the original post in terms of writing a persuasive argument. I appreciated the inclusion of “facts” like the amount of land used for an average golf course, as well as references to support those “facts.”

The problem is these “facts” are fake. The references included look real, but they are both completely fabricated. The DOI links included are actually real DOIs, but they link to totally different and unrelated papers. So after reading this, I actually have no idea whether the average golf course in the U.S. is 120 acres, or whether golf courses lead to a “loss of ecosystem services and biodiversity.” The only way I can think to find out about whether these statements are true is to use an actual search engine like Google to search for real sources.

I found this outcome deeply troubling. The overall writing was much better in this second round with a more detailed prompt, but the arguments are based on potentially false results with fabricated references.

Where this goes next is going to get really interesting. Will the next chat AI be able to include references to real research papers? Will the arguments become more nuanced? Will the output include more quantitative arguments, such as quantifying the reduction in biodiversity from golf courses (if that’s even true)? Given how quickly these models are developing I would not be surprised if the answer to all of the above is “yes”. Time will tell, and I will update this post when the next chat AI is made publicly available.

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