As a tournament chess player, I would like to share with you the benefits playing chess and perhaps getting involved in tournament chess.
*As a side-note, if you're ever curious about my current USCF rating, you can click on my name and see in my profile. At the time of writing this myTake, I am rated 1427 (about average within tournament players, if you're curious).
Gain Another Perspective on Life
Many of the ideas and principles you learn in chess can be applied in other area's of life and you'll be able to make connections between what goes on over the chess board and what happens in real life. For example, you may better understand why certain things feel better or worse than other things, why things happen, and again be able to pinpoint similar life principles. Josh Waitzkin has made some very insightful statements throughout his teaching material in Chesmaster: Grandmaster Editoin (PC) and his book, The Art of Learning.
Develop Better Analytical and Planning Skills
Image source: http://analytical-skills.amanet.org/
Chess is a lot about analyzing positions and what the imbalances are (i.e. pawn structure, initiative, material, king safety, development, space, etc) and planning on the basis of those nuances. As I discussed in the previous benefit, you can apply these skills in life as well. It can impove the quality of your decision-making and thoughtfulness. In some cases, this isn't exactly a quality you want to abuse and be careful of overthinking (I myself suffer from this a lot), but when applied in moderation, it can be very effective.
Meet People With Similar Interests and Become a Part of a Community
No, I don't mean single women or men, although you may - you never know. I am primarily talking about the general chess community. I've found that chess players are usually pretty nice and welcoming people. As always, meeting people with similar interests is always a huge bonus. You will likely meet some great and interesting people at your local chess club.
Divert Yourself From Life Stress
Anyone knows that after a certain point in adolescence, life is never the same as it used to be when we were little children. Now we have all sorts of things to worry about like our future, love life, careers, complicated interpersonal relationships, "being attractive", self-improvement, and much more. That's not necessarily a bad thing, and those are important aspects of life that you should work at. However, whenever you're feeling mentally or emotionally exhausted and need a break from life's pressures, chess can truly be a great psychological refreshment. It's like a world of its own. Don't get carried away and shut yourself out from life though (I've made that mistake before myself), because eventually life will hit you and you'll be back to square one and out of shape.
Possession of a Unique Interest
Not many people play chess. I personally only know one other chess player on GAG. It's something you can really own and call one of your personal hobbies or interests in many communities. You kind of feel like a boss having knowledge of an area that most people don't know two shits about (no offense to them).
This is sort of the result of the last two benefits combined. Because of this unique interest of yours and the tranquility you will experience, you'll feel better about yourself, at least a little bit. Taking up chess is a form of self-improvement. You're expanding your interests, becoming a more interesting person, and adding another perspective to your life. It's also, again, something to fall back on if you're down in the dumps or if things aren't going the way they you want them. I'd say, this is one of the best mental distractions that the recently heartbroken can employ. Chess requires a lot of thought and immersion. If you're at the point after a breakup where you have at least enough strength to occasoinally think about something else, and even if you don't, this is something to consider.
Reduction in Risk of Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia
Keeping your brain mentally stiumlated can slow and even prevent the progress of Alzheimer's and dementia. By keeping it active and engaged, you prevent the brain from losing its power. The brain is like a muscle, new research has found. The more you exercise it, work it, and tone it, the better it will perform and the longer it will "stay good", so to speak. This is a good example of "use it or lose it".
If you're interested, I recommend the first product you get is Chessmaster: Grandmaster Edition, if you can, and go through Josh Waitzkin's tutorials, and/or sign up on chess.com and perhaps ask on the forums where you should start. They'll probably tell you at first to just train your tactics by solving puzzles and focus mostly on that (either by purchasing a tactics workbook or going on ChessTempo). You'll also want to learn basic strategic ideas, especially opening principles, and study endgames (Silman's Complete Endgame Course is great for all levels from total beginners to National Masters - a book I personally own). Most imporantly, join a chess club. That will get you the well-needed experience to become accustomed to playing over-the-board; at home, play games online. And you can take it from there.