Psychology in Chess


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Maintain Objectivity

Human psychology in relation to the game of chess was studied for the first time during the Moscow Tournament of by the Institute of Psychology.


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The results highlighted the importance of human psychology during a competition. However, this research did not have much influence on the practice of the game and failed to elaborate on how players can avoid errors that occur in almost every game. On the other hand, new studies on this topic by psychologists and chess players have subsequently framed the role of emotional factors and their control. This is in addition to the defects of attention and other psychological elements, which negatively affect the logical processes of the player. The individual characteristics of some champions were presented.

The players included Morphy, Lasker, Capablanca, Fischer and others.

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They were picked not only because of their skill in the game or playing technique but also in relation to their personality. This was considered from the psychological or psychoanalytic point of view. Most players are mainly immersed in the study of openings and endings without thoroughly analyzing their strengths and weaknesses from a psychological point of view. It is impractical to ignore some elements, such as attention, concentration, will, the role of emotions, the relationship with the adversary and the errors that occur during competitions.

Emanuel Lasker was the first to understand that behind the moves of the pieces there is a human being with his character and temperament the psychology of chess. He understood that it is not possible to engage in the chess game without considering the human element and the psychology of the adversary, idiosyncrasies and preferences. Lasker expressed the belief that chess is, first of all, a struggle between two personalities and two intellects. His ideas on the psychology of chess are universally accepted. The ideas are based on the need for psychological preparation to face the difficult conditions of the tournament and familiarizing with the playing techniques of adversaries.

It is also instructive to know how the rational and psychological conception of the ideas was expressed. Waiting for the opponent to make mistakes was not enough, it was necessary to provoke them. One must consider how an opponent thinks during the game and solves the difficulties encountered on the board. This also applies to how they react to successes and errors. The main feature of the chess image is its generality. This image is not only the visual perception of the position of pieces and pedestrians on the board, but it encompasses the representation of the position in the mental image of the player.

Psychological preparation

It takes into account the relationship between the pieces on the board and the moves played. Hence, the pieces and other aspects on the board are represented in the mind of the player as carriers of ideas in relation to the position.

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Another important element is the intuition that contributes to the understanding and rapid assessment of the position. Intuition is the direct way to reach the goal, the solution that immediately comes to mind. Since many players rely on their chess software to help them in their training, material grabbing becomes a bad habit for those players. Material grabbing is a mechanical way to play chess.

To win chess games, you have to think outside of the box non-mechanically. I start my introduction to the psychology of chess with a discussion about Queen Sacrifices. In a typical Queen sacrifice, the player sacrificing his Queen often does so to checkmate his or her opponent a few moves later. The question I pose to my students is why does the Queen get captured more often than not? I have them carefully consider the question.

The answer is greediness of course. While greed plays a crucial role, we have to explore the roots of this greediness to understand why the Queen is captured more often than not. Beginners are taught that the Queen is the most powerful piece in the game. On an empty board, a Queen controls 27 different squares when positioned on a central square d4, d5, e4 and e5. However, experienced players will examine the potential capture, looking for an underlying trap. My students learn to look for ulterior motives from their opponents. You can pick up a great deal of information regarding your opponent through their physical actions during a game.

The Psychology of Chess by Fernand Gobet () | Harry Hartog Bookseller

When I move a pawn or piece on the board, I do so in a smooth, forceful yet non-aggressive manner. Some players timidly move their pawns and pieces. A player can also forcefully push a pawn or piece on the board, confidently. This can indicate that they have a solid plan. I teach my students to move their pawns and pieces in such a way that gives no indication of their state of mind in a given position, smoothly and calmly.

Do not provide any physically visual clues to your opponent.


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  • Psychology in chess.

Many junior and adult players tend to nervously tap their legs up and down under the table when a position becomes difficult. Make a mental note of this. Facial expressions come into play during a chess game and knowing how to read them can be a great help.

Chess and Psychology

When your opponent suddenly goes from frowning to a relaxed smile, they may be making a winning move. Examine the position in even greater detail. When you make a move and your opponent suddenly looks as if the life has been drained from his or her face, you may have just made a crushing move.

Visual perception
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