Things I am learning from playing chess, part 1

Posted on Jan 29, 2022

Take your time

I have played most of my chess games against the bots found on Chess.com. When playing against a bot, it will make its moves instantly. It is tempting to keep pace with it. You shouldn’t.

Unlike bots, humans—especially those of us who are not chess masters—need time to look at all the pieces on the board, weigh different moves against each other, and consider both the good and the bad outcomes that would come from each move. If that sounds like a lot of things to do for every move, that’s because it is. Chess is a complex game, which is what makes it so fascinating.

My worst mistakes on the chessboard have been due to hasty decision-making: I want to capture a piece or put the king in check so badly that I don’t bother looking at what moving that piece might do, or without figuring out all the ways my opponent can escape or counter it. I play with haste mostly to match the tempo of my opponent. Maintaining the pace is not important at all—at least at the beginner level I am playing at—and is impossible against a bot anyway. It is a habit I am working to outgrow.

If you are a chess beginner like me and want to improve your game, don’t be hasty. Stop and think before you make a move. Consider what effect that move will have on the future. And weigh multiple options if you have them. These are good rules of thumb not just for chess, but for life, too.