5 Easy Ways to Enjoy Chess More

5 Easy Ways to Enjoy Chess More

pete
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1. Slow Down

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chess clock with symbolic time by Kristoffersonschach |CC

Blitz and bullet chess are great fun, but can you really appreciate the subtle beauty of the game when you're making a move every two seconds? Maybe if you’re Hikaru Nakamura, you can.

We mortals, though, need to take some time to consider move candidates, plan a complete opening, check and re-check tactics, and formulate a long-term strategy. Only then can we truly enjoy the deepness of chess. 

It’s only when playing real, thinking chess that we get a look at its elegant complexity. If you're getting a little tired of blitz matches with three minutes per game, why not try a correspondence-style online game with a time control of three days per move? This allows for a depth of analysis that's simply not possible over the board -- no matter how good you are. 

Keep in mind, slowing down doesn’t necessarily mean playing with a long time control. It can simply mean using the time you have to think about your move instead of relying on intuition. Time and again, players find themselves blitzing out unsound moves with plenty of time on their clocks just because it's easier to play a move that looks O.K. than to check if it really is.

Though this style requires less effort, in the end it also brings less enjoyment than playing a full thinking game of chess. Take the time to appreciate the finer details of the positions you're playing, and you might find a deeper appreciation for the game you love!

2. Relax

Relax /1 by Gianluca Neri |CC

Chess is certainly one of the greatest games ever invented. But you should remember that it is just a game. Taking some time to relax and clear your head is essential to keeping a positive outlook on what, at times, can be the very stressful pursuit of chess perfection.

Even the world's best players take breaks from time to time. From the greatest chess talents on down to beginners, one thing is true: if you're not enjoying the process of trying to get better, then you won't get better. 

When you do go back to the game, relax and settle into your chess positions. Live in the moment, enjoy it, and make the best decisions indepedent of outcome or result. That's good advice for practically any aspect of life, and it applies to chess as well. 

3. Get Out

Touch & Go Chess Party by Seth Anderson | CC

Everyone needs to get out once in a while, right? Visiting a local chess club is a great way to get some valuable social interaction with other chess players who are also trying to enjoy chess and improve their games. It's easy to feel isolated and that you're the only one struggling to get better when you're alone, playing at your computer. Find a club and enjoy the camaraderie and fun of a shared interest! 

Enjoying the company of other chess players is not only fun itself, but it can also rekindle your fire and motivate you to improve your game. The more time you spend building relationships with the local chess community, the better it will be, and the stronger the friendships will get. It's a powerful positive-feedback loop you can use to add a whole new social dimension to your chess hobby.

If your area doesn't have an active chess club, consider starting one. There might be more chess players around than you think, and organizing club meetings and agenda is easier than ever with today's technology.

4. Speed Up

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Wait, didn't I just suggest slowing down? Sometimes, instead of slowing down, you need to speed up to get your blood flowing!

If you find yourself taking chess too seriously, and you are a player who generally only wants to play correspondence-style games, then a blitz session could inject some fun into the game. Rather than spend one hour on a single game, you could play 10 or more blitz games, or even 30 or more bullet games in that same hour.

Sure, you won't enjoy the benefits of a fully conceived and executed chess plan, but you will be sharpening your tactical skills through sheer volume alone.

More important, blitz and bullet marathons are just plain fun. Stringing together win after win against a well-matched opponent adds a rush of adrenaline to the otherwise serene, cerebral game of chess.  

There is a secret to taking a blitz session to the next level, though. Review every single game you play to see what tactical opportunities you and your opponent missed. There are sure to be several huge moves overlooked in each game.

Oftentimes it's more enjoyable to review your blitz games than to play them. Which brings us to our last point:

5. Love the Post-Mortem

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Checkmate by Alan Light |CC

Modern chess players are spoiled. Sitting inside every laptop, tablet, or even cell phone is the strongest chess player who ever lived. In two minutes, you could review your game's tactics move-by-move more accurately than the world champions of years past.

It takes 30 seconds to check Chess.com's Opening Explorer to see where you (or your opponent) first strayed from well-known theory. Knowing where you first went wrong can be an important building block for future games.

Win or lose, you should look forward to analyzing your game with a computer chess engine. If you won, you can gleefully watch the engine's evaluation of the position increase in your favor. If you lost, you can look for moves you could have missed to save the game. In either case, you'll almost always be surprised what elegant moves the virtual GM found that you never even considered. 

Chess.com offers an excellent computer analysis feature for its games. You could also download a free chess engine like Stockfish and run it on your own computer. Don't let the price fool you: Stockfish is widely considered the strongest chess playing program in the world.

Another enjoyable way to analyze your games is with your opponent. Did you know at the end of every live Chess.com game you play, there is an option to "Review Your Game"? You can do this alone or invite your opponent to join in the learning fun!

If your opponent is willing to discuss the game with you, you can exchange your ideas and find out what your opposition was planning. This is a great way to wring further enjoyment out of a finished game.

Victoria Cmilyte smiling by Andreas Kontokanis |CC

Do you need to slow down, relax, get out, speed up, or do more post-mortems in your own games? What are some other ways you can enjoy the great game of chess? Let us know in the comment section.


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