January 6, 2011

Is it worth playing chess?!

The idea of today's article started to take shape while reading, not for the first time, a few remarks regarding the madness, the lunacy of the professional chess players. 2011 just started and in these moments we tend to make some time to think, to plan and draw conclusions.
So, let's analyse both, the positive and the negative side of playing chess.


1. Satisfaction: all chess players of all strengths experienced the happiness, the gratification feeling after winning a game. It's great, isn't it?! Afterall, we are all artists! Not to mention when you win a tournament...the feeling is overwhelming and I am sure you get motivation for another couple of months.

Dar Al Hajar - Yemen

2. Travelling: thanks to chess I was able to see 36 countries, many of them more than once! Believe me, it's really wonderful to be there, to see LIVE the Asian temples, to ride a camel in Emirates or an elephant in Malaysia, to admire the famous paintings in Hermitage or Prado museums, to pick up with your own hands from the trees the passion or the dragon fruit. Experiences which you normally wouldn't be able to have with a different profession (for more pictures - see the album).

3. Meeting new people: this is how I met my husband, chess tournaments:)
Another important aspect is that you will actually understand and feel on a deeper level the new places you visit, with the help of the local chess players. You will not be just a tourist, enjoying the architecture and the unusual food from that country, but also you will be able to have an insight in their daily life and gain memories for a lifetime.

4. Chess is an exercise of infinite possibilities for the mind: one which develops mental abilities used throughout life - concentration, critical thinking, abstract reasoning, problem solving, pattern recognition, strategic planning, creativity, analysis, synthesis and evaluation, just to name a few:)

5. A key that might open many doors: you already gained a lot of life experience and you can transfer it for different activities, besides the ones which are still connected to the chess world: arbiter, organizer, trainer. Here comes the best part: there are many chess lovers and I am sure you you will always find someone to help you start in a completely new career, if you want that, and chess will be the bridge that will connect you.

6. You can perform for many years: unlike other sports or jobs, chess can be played even when you are 70! Psychologists higly recommend such activities, it's good not to let your brain fall asleep.

7. Despite what some other people might say, chess is reinventing itself everytime! There is always something new: a new line, a new place, a new person, definitely not a boring life. But, it can be seen as a negative part as well...people with a low tolerance for stress, might find this life too unstable for them; you have to be flexible, in order to adapt and re-adapt to the new situations you have to face.


1. Pain and suffering: when you lose in chess, the pain is usually deeper than in any other sport. That's because in football for example, one can say: Oh, they were faster, the arbiter was not fair, we were not playing as a real team...they can put the blame on external factors or on the fact that the opponent was just better prepared this time. In chess is somehow different: the arbiter cannot influence the game anymore; and when you lose, you start questioning your abilities and, especially, your intelligence. This leads to a low self esteem, the biggest monster of all fears...

BUT: Only the people who suffered can go through life with a perspective on a different level, they have an interesting story to tell; only the intelligent people have problems because they have something to say and think about! They have ideas, opinions, they take attitude and, of course, people and society will react, thus leading to headaches for the pioneers:)

2. Less time with the family and friends: there is not so much to say here...although, by human nature: when we are home, we feel like going and when we are far away, we always want to come back:)
One more remark though: even when a chess player is home with his family, he is still absorbed by his lines, openings, books, computer...you can read my post on "The chessplayer's widow" to make an idea on how the other people might feel about it:)

3. Uncertainty regarding your monthly income: What should I say?! You cannot be sure of anything nowadays. As long as you keep your eyes open, you will always find new opportunities, hopefully.
Someone once said: "A bad day of chess is better than any good day at work." As long as you like the game and you make money out of it, you can consider yourself lucky!

4. Investing too much time in chess might cause social and health problems: 


Many times the media likes to focus on particular chess players, on particular and isolated cases, pointing out and concluding happily that too much chess makes you crazy!
First of all: anything in excess is excessive! ANYTHING in large amounts is harmful and has a negative effect, not only chess.
On the other hand...moderation is a fatal thing; nothing succeeds like excess. And that's why we comment on these "crazy" Grandmasters: because what they are doing has been noticed!
Have you ever heard about the normal Mr.X who lives next door?!
I'm 100% sure that you can be a successful chess player and be more than ok!

5. Chess might develop undesirable character traits such as: selfishness, envy: Selfishness and envy are part of our personalities. Even when we make a good deed, somehow we know that we will feel great afterwards, so...we can even say that we do it to reward ourselves, we do it for us and for our wonderful feeling which comes with it: that we are good people. And envy...I don't know how it is in your country but in Roumania envy is a sickness which will remain years from now. It comes from the past and it's really difficult to get rid of it. 
How can we say than that chess is responsible for our dark side?! Chess itself is just a game, it's a sport, and what really counts is our attitude towards it, our education, our character. The only moment when chess might be poisonous is if it would take over your life, if you slowly but surely start to play and be interested only in chess. 

We have 7 against 5: the positive side has won:) And I didn't do it on purpose! On the contrary, I am also a bit surprised that I managed to find only 5 negative aspects. Especially if I consider the moments when I wanted to give up, when I almost "hated" chess and myself...(just for the record, these moments appeared after a lost game, a terrible tournament etc, and I was not aware of my disruptive way of thinking; that's why i started to write articles about it, maybe you will learn from my mistakes).
On the other hand, if I think a little, it's normal: as long as you don't make an idol out of chess, as long as you don't devote your ENTIRE time to it, your life will be richer and happier.
So, what do you think?! As you can see, I support the chess cause, which is kind of normal, this is what I do:) But it's up to you if you want to step on the chess' road or not...of course you will face disappointments, sleepless nights, frustration and anger, but trust me: it is worth to give it a try! You won't regret it...well, maybe just sometimes...a little bit:)


  1. chess is beautiful even when you lose ...

    1. I agree, however winning a good solid win, sure give a person a sense of satisfaction. My dad played chess I csfe's when he lived in Germany. He got to the point where he could play blindfolded.

  2. I believe the precise quote was: "The worst day in chess is better than the best day at work".

    I agree :)

  3. I agree with you and I still enjoy chess, even when the position on the board looks awful:)
    The only problem though, appears when you are a professional chess player and your family depends on your prize money. You can see this pressure usually in the last rounds of any open tournament, when a lot of "solid" draws occur on the board.
    In any case, chess is great:)

    1. I have played several tournaments and in one tied for first place. I still have fond memories of playing several high rated players and winning.
      Now tend to spend to much time playing blitz chess- ah the thrill pulling off a win in twenty moves or less

  4. after viewing your idea the positive and negative aspects, i came to realized how wonderful chess to my life, this game serve as a balancing wheel of my life,, after long day works i can be unwind all stresses by playing chess online with friends,, always feel pleasure of playing chess surely you will enjoy it,, don't feel the pressure.

  5. I like to play chess on my computer and try my best to solve some problems from out of books as well. Personally I believe that it helps fight Alzheimer disease.

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