As usual, I can’t write just one paragraph when I could write seventeen, so I have a lot to say and I’m not apologizing for being wordy on a text-based venue.
I used to play chess competitively and I quit about a year after I left highschool. I was rated in the mid 1400s at the time, which I guess is “pretty good for a highschool kid,” but definitely not in the “dream about getting paid,” tier. Maybe if I kept at it, but I developed other interests that were more immediately rewarding. I was practicing my chess game in various forms on a twice-a-week schedule at the time, where I had a few hours set aside for just that purpose.
I think anybody could play chess well, for loose enough values of well, depending on how much effort they wanted to invest in it. By that I mean approaching it seriously, with regimented schedules and training and exercises, and expecting good outcomes in a period measured in a few years. Now, granted, this is “well” in the “against other people who are serious about chess” sense of “well”.
Even without that, getting in regular games and not being discouraged by losses is really good for one’s mental well-being, because without a doubt, it’s a good, strong logical mental workout. The trick there is finding folks who are better, but not too much better, and being able to learn from one’s mistakes.
I’m hesitant to say “mathematics” at least in the classical sense would be useful as a skillset, but an appreciation of logical, ordered thought is definitely useful, and since mathematics also requires logical, ordered thought, they do go hand-in-hand.
A bad player just makes moves without thought.
An okay player can come with short-term goals and make moves to achieve them.
A decent player may have mid-term goals and strive to achieve those and, recognizing their goals are no longer tenable, modify those plans as they go along.
Most importantly, the first skill that distinguishes a mediocre player from an average player is discerning what your opponent might be trying to do with their own moves. At a low-ish level, you can spot an immediate attack and fortifying your position and/or counter-attack, and at higher levels, you might figure out their overall order of attack and exploit it for your own gains.
I’m not very familiar with bridge at all, but from what I gather, part of it is trying to come up with a plan of attack and, at the same time, trying to discern what your partner and opponent’s plans of attacks are and how you might best meet your goals while foiling those of your opponents.
If I’m right, that same broad skill set is enormously critical in chess, with the key difference being there is no “unknown data” to hand. All the chess pieces are obvious, while all the other bridge cards involve some measure of educated guesswork.
Any number of “strategic” board games have useful analogues in chess, frankly. I’d argue for checkers, Connect-four, Othello. I will very much argue for curling (at extremely high levels of play) being in this category.