An Insight a Day

Lessons From Playing Really Bad Chess

I started playing really bad chess a while ago and noticed something interesting.

Whenever I tried to attack aggressively or force the AI to trade pieces, things usually end up badly for me, even if I'm attacking with an overwhelming advantage. At first, I thought it's because of my lack of chess experience (it's probably is) but after a while, I realized what it is. It's because when I attack, I'm giving the AI the opportunity to strengthen its defense. Over time, it gets harder and harder to check.

Unless you attack with a sure-fire way of checkmating, you're only helping your opponent strengthen their defense while you scatter your attacking pieces all over the board. What happens after your attack ends? Your opponent will be in a good position to counterattack, especially considering how scattered your pieces are after your overly aggressive attacks.

So, I started playing a bit more defensively. It turns out, building up your pieces and preparing them BEFORE you start checking your opponent, that really helps.

The opposite is also true, if you're being aggressively attacked, stay calm and focus on defending. Unless your opponent already knows how to checkmate (in which case, you've already lost), the attacks will end eventually. And once it's over, it'll be your turn to attack. Except, don't. Don't be greedy, don't get caught up in the moment, don't just blindly attack. Prepare first, strengthen your position, and attack only when you're ready.