What is the Relationship between Chess and Mental Health?

Your mental health is crucial if you are a chess player. In the previous Tips4Chess article “Importance of Personal Traits in Chess and Must Have Qualities to Become a Good Chess Player”, it is mentioned about Former World Chess Champion Bobby Fischer`s famous quote “I do not believe in psychology, I believe in good moves”, however, as a Psychologist and as a person having an understanding of the rules of chess and observed the lifestyle of professional chess players, I have to contradict the statement of former World Chess Champion, and I admit that psychology does play a significant role in chess!

We all know that Bobby Fischer quit playing professional chess when his mental illness got worse. His childhood was not an easy one, his father left the family, Bobby couldn’t feel safe at home and he made up his reasons to leave home. He indicated that he could not study chess because there was noise. His paranoid attacks increased in the adulthood, after he became the world champion of chess, he quit playing chess and moved to another country. Maybe as his stress level increased related to the championship, he couldn’t handle with all.

Mental Health and Chess

We must realize the fact that mental health is important for every human. Considering the type of life chess players have, it may even become more crucial on certain occasions. Chess tournaments take long days, you travel frequently, move from one tournament to another and stay away from your home for a long time. Staying away from your comfort zone increases your stress. Each day and each chess game during the tournament is another struggle, you wonder whether you will win or lose. Especially when you are a professional chess player and playing competitive chess regularly, your life plans, expectations of yourself, your friends’, family’s and other’s expectations from you may put serious pressure on you. If you identify yourself with your success, then that makes it worse each time you lose a game or competition.

You may be a perfectionist. You may be the one, who blame him/herself harshly when the plan isn’t worked out. You may have hard times accepting yourself with both of your strengths and weaknesses. You may come to a point that you deny your weaknesses and not to accept yourself as a real person with both strengths and weaknesses, good and bad matches, good and bad moves. You may obsessively think about that how you did that move, how you couldn’t find the correct position, how you have become that wrong etc. However, it makes things worse as that approach increases your stress level, and only you can find how to improve yourself when you are open to accept your weaknesses, what may be better, what is not well enough.

You need to be mentally strong if you want to be a strong chess player. You need support. You need your acquaintances supporting you. You need supportive friends and supportive family.

Support you need is sometimes a professional one. You may need counselling or psychotherapy. Professional support increases your abilities and strengths. It gives a chance to work on your weaknesses. It gives a chance to reach your potential at a higher level. Professional support balances your stress level, and therefore you become more able to handle with your issues.

Deniz Cosan

Counselling & Clinical Psychologist


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Tips4Chess “4 Fundamental Tips 4 to Improve Your Strength in Chess”

All chess players, regardless of their playing strength, face various types of challenges when it comes to finding the right approach to improve their chess skills and it could be not that simple at all to search for concrete answers to the questions “how to improve your chess skills further?” “what is the next step to focus on?” “How to identify my weaknesses?” and the fundamental reasons of stucking on a certain level in chess or showing no signs of progress for a long period (one tournament after another) always varies from one player to another.

However, Tips4chess is here to share with you “4 fundamental tips” if you are really ambitious and willing to take your chess skills and knowledge up to the next level.

Here is the list of tips we’ve gathered for you… Enjoy!


Analyse your chess games

Analyzing your own games is the first rule for improvement as all chess players regardsless of the result of their games has to re-evaluate the past decisions and choices made during the previous stages of their chess games in order to be able to identify the strengths & weaknesses of themselves and also to gain insight of what elements needs to be improved to get them into the next level.


Identify your weaknesses and strengths on a continuous basis

Identifying your weaknesses and your strengths in the chess game can become an extremely hard task unless you implement the right strategy and methodology to

explore them. This process is quite identical to the improvement approaches used in engineering and business therefore we chess players can make benefit of using SWOT analysis to identify not only the threats but also to create new opportunities for reaching our personal goals as a chess player.


For example; your strengths could be tactics, ability to calculate well in complex positions and your weaknesses could be weak understanding and wrong assessment of positional games. With the given assets, the possible threat is to pick the wrong opening lines where your opponent might force you to play some balanced positions where you will have difficulties in creating complexities or tactical opportunities on the chess board. On the other hand, having strong tactical skills and the ability to calculate deeper may give us the opportunity to win some sharp battles if we can understand and focus on the dynamics of structures we are playing. This requires a deep analysis of opening ideas but also equal important to understand the mobility of the pieces and in what type of positions those pieces are most powerful or least valuable.

In other words, SWOT analysis plays an important role not only to create new opportunities but also on a continuous basis it will help you to improve your chess skills and to produce the best out of the resources we have as a chess player. This requires both analyzing your theoretical knowledge of the game but also requires to analyze your personal qualities such as psychological assessment and how we handle chess positions and situations that occur during the match or tournaments.


Read Chess Books

Reading chess books is a continuous process not only to learn new approaches and improve skills in chess but also to keep you updated on topical chess openings and variations etc. Reading books is also gaining more importance as in the computer era new generations finding reading books boring and less practical training method, however, it is way more instructive way than just looking move by move to chess positions. Especially when we refer to high quality chess books with clear instructions and clarifications put by authors when explaining positions, moves and ideas.

As one of the key tips4chess, we would recommend you to never underestimate the value of a well written chess book and how much it would contribute to your chess understanding regardless of your chess strength and level.

There is always room for improvement! 😉

We also recommend you to see our previous article ”How to find the most suitable chess books for yourself?”


Collaborate with your colleagues & chess friends

Information exchange is one of the most crucial parts as chess might look like a game for isolated individuals, the idea sharing is vital for every chess players to encounter different ideas and opinions to have a better understanding of chess but also to challenge your findings and having the opportunity to compare your knowledge and ideas with other players experiences which can become an important resource in analyzing and evaluating certain decisions on the chess board. Train with your friends as every player has devoted time into specific chess positions, openings and structures which may expand your chess vision and will definitely contribute to your understanding of the game of chess through constructive discussions and analysis. Many chess players fail to handle analysis in a contructive way, instead they may fall into the trap of making one-sided (subjective) analysis where players will always fail to improve and learn new things. Objectivity or at least trying to approach objectively to different chess moves, ideas and plans by other players is vital for improving your chess skills!

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