Psychology in Chess


I suppose this is not a new idea. It seems that there is a great deal of psychology in chess.

 For example: Way too often I have studied a position, used the analysis board to puzzle out all the possibilities, left to let it percolate in my brain and returned. Even done that several times before finally deciding on a move, and then, after all that "careful analysis" made the move and immediately see that it was a blunder. Somehow, when it is too late, immediately it becomes obvious. I suspect that has something to do with stress.

Another stress item seems to be the effect of seeing someone's rating. When I am playing against someone with a much higher rating, I feel inhibited and my brain can get cramped. If I were playing against someone with a lower rating, they could make the very same moves as my high-rated opponent, but my confidence would remain high and I would probably play a better game.

 Not always, of course. There are times when on underestimates a lower-rated opponent and times when the challenge of playing a higher-rated opponent shifts one's mind into a higher state of focus, but the point is the person's rating has an effect -- one way or the other -- on how well one plays the game.  Anyone else experience some of these things?











just kidding yes I hear ya :D  I just need to work on playing every game methodically and objectively. 

I understand the value of objectivity, but don't you sometimes play better if you are juiced up with emotion? I mean if an opponent has irked me is some way, if I don't allow myself to make irrational moves because I am pissed the increased motivation can help my game? Don't you ever find that some subjectivity can help?
I highly recommend being objective and taking a step back. It's not like we need to be pumped up as though we're offensive linemen. Play every game and every move despite your oppents rating; play the board. Chess is a mind-game. On the flipside, it is a mindgame yes. And Fischer did say he likes to make his opponent squirm. So there's two ways of looking at it.......
Mr SK-B...did you analyze each possible moves that ur opponent would make..thats how i played. When i do that mostly i would satisfied myself and surprisingly the moves that my opponents made is exactly in my mind. Moves in chess are complicated but i have studied time and again with that sort of problem(yours) ur opponents moves..bye TQ.
Just play the board.
..try do some yoga..fear of ratings might ease..TQ
Manjazam wrote: Mr SK-B...did you analyze each possible moves that ur opponent would make..thats how i played. When i do that mostly i would satisfied myself and surprisingly the moves that my opponents made is exactly in my mind. Moves in chess are complicated but i have studied time and again with that sort of problem(yours) ur opponents moves..bye TQ.

I do as much analysing as I can. The problem for me is that even with a very limited number of plausible moves for any particular turn, as you get to where it might go two moves from now and then three moves from now, the permutations rapidly multiply so that it seems to become impossible to totally compare every possible lineage of future play. In the end I tend to favor a good position, more often using that as the criteria, rather than a particular, predictable outcome.

Thanks for taking the trouble to comment.

Mr SK-B...You are most welcome.

I maybe off topic but I will share what I think... Everyone knows that the first apperance makes a big difference when judging people right?  so of course using that you can make yourself doesn't look like the type of people who can play chess well (such as confused look, talk aloud and say stupid stuff/joke).  During the game you and other people shouldn't talk at all, however what I do is I will slip out a word or two that doesn't really matter, such as a small joke or exaggrated emotion (ex. laugh, blowing air).  for me it can reduced the tension and stress and make yourself think better.


When I start thinking of my enemy's next move, usually I found it but I can't do anything about, and that proves how bad I am = )) 


what I do is, when playing other people if,someone is either lower or equal to my  rating I would play them but for someone that is higher ,I would to play them in a unrated to see if I would have a chance to win or lost.most of the timeI play for fun and I enjoy this game so much and learned not to get to sersious about the game it self.this helps me out to play better win or lose it dosen"t matter as long u enjoy the game it self


Ya, to begin playing chess is to start in a delusional state a lot of the time.  To get realistic about your ability to calculate, you need to be humiliated a lot as you are also learing to calculate better.


I also have a friend who heavily relies on offensive "psy ops".  Every move he keeps a stream of commentary  going about how he's in trouble, I'm sure to win, etc.  Observers think he has never won a game based on this patter.  In fact, he wins about one in three against me.  For the most part I disregard it, occasionally I get conned into overconfidence, and sometime I can use what he says as a "tell" about how re really feels about a position-- when he complains too much he could have a big advantage I haven't figured out or he could be dancing around some particularly clever combination.




Let the positions determine your play.  If you think it's the right move or idea, forget the person's rating.  If you try to find something else because of rating fear, you may never know what possibilities you had.  I don't like losing much and I play every game like I have a chance to win until I achieve victory or I know there's no chance left.  Sometimes I win, sometimes I lose, rarely I draw (ha!).  That's chess.


I have experienced seeing the blunder right after I hit the submit button. Usually it comes from moving too fast and playing  too many games at once. It also comes from not checking each of my opponents pieces and every move they can make before making my move. I like to play higher rated opponents in rated games. I feel I can learn and improve this way, and after all if I lose I don't lose that many rating points anyway. But I play everybody and everyone knows you have to play the board but sometimes your opponents rating is on your mind.


I think it does have an influence on the way you play.  When I play stronger opponents I usually play better though, especially in OTB games.  Sometimes I find myself beating lower rated opponents but it being because they were very weak rather than me being strong, but when the pressure is off to win against higher graded players I find it easier to relax and focus, and I often win as a consequence.


Psychology definitely has an impact on our study and play. I read a couple books that deal with the subject and noted some interesting points here. If you're curious, you might buy Chessmaster XI ($20) which includes IM Josh Waitzkin's Psychology of Competition and Art of Learning tutorials. They happen to be fun and insightful. :)


Bobby Fischer once said in an interview, "I don't believe in psychology in chess; I believe in good moves."  Kind of ironic given that he was a known to be a very intimidating presence on the chess board.  It's more of an issue for "real" face to face chess where you can observe your opponent's body posture, the manner in which he places the piece down on a square, or how boldly he hits the clock. 

Another factor is time constraints, I feel that speed chess is more a game of intimidation than strategy.  You can act confident (despite thoughtless moves) and trash-talk in order to make your opponent uneasy and full of doubt so as to make them lose valuable time. 

Because of the inability to see our opponent and our comfortable move time constraints, correspondence chess is the least psychologically involved way to play.


I agree psychology has less to do with the outcome of a particular correspondence game than a particular over-the-board game. That said, since motivation is a subset of psychology, it's probably the most important factor at success at either venue (provided you were neither born a chess genius nor raised by a chess master).


owh! i did came over to your 1st problem in the article u posted...well i guess it is something to do with over "careful" and over "confidence". bcuz when one is too careful and analyze the move too often, one may come into a conclusion that it is exactly THE BEST MOVE but it turn out to be a blunder. it is better to analyze other possibilities and follow ur strategy rather than stick to a move that you fell it is the BEST RESPONSE to ur opponent's move !


I'm don't strong ,in chess,maybe you have to enjoy your power.I'm belive that how can it be how does the problems in chess.Enjoy with the game that you are playing!