When I am playing friendly games with my brother, if one of us makes a big blunder that would make it pointless to continue playing, instead of quitting, we undo the move(s) to give a second chance (if we both agree, otherwise the one that did the blunder loses).

We do it frequently and the fun seems to increase since we can keep playing a balanced game.

But is this a good habit? Are there negative consequences of doing this?

  • 3
    No, it is not bad practice.
    – Tony Ennis
    Commented Aug 10, 2012 at 0:14
  • 2
    Some of the most memorable & enjoyable games I've played I lost my queen through a blunder/trap and still won. The game is not necessarily over just because of a silly mistake. Commented Jun 2, 2014 at 8:53
  • Exactly. I once blundered and lost a rook when I was already down on material. I thought about giving up but later on my opponent blundered his queen!
    – bpromas
    Commented Jun 3, 2015 at 20:03

11 Answers 11


Getting too used to playing with takebacks could be somewhat detrimental if you were to transition to tournament chess at some point, since it downplays the importance of keeping your guard up and being vigilant about tactical possibilities in positions. Nevertheless, I think that in the setting you indicate playing with occasional takebacks (especially for really major blunders) is an instructive way to go, and so can be a good short-term practice for your long-term understanding of the game.

When some terrible blunder happens in your friendly games, there are basically three choices:

  1. Resign and start anew.
  2. Play on in a very lopsided (and probably not so instructive) position.
  3. Take the blunder back and pick a different way to proceed.

Only the third option forces you to return to the position where the mistake was made and figure out something better to do, which in turn requires you to determine the nature of the mistake that was made in the first place. This is a good thing to do, at least if you want to emphasize learning over the competitive results of your friendly games.

  • +1 for options. I usually go for 2. in my (fun, quick, seldom balanced) games ; 1. if it makes it really hopeless (say, rook endgames, give up a rook) ; 3. only if the position is worth some actual study (sometimes blunders come from too much thinking over complex matters and overlooking/forgetting some basic stuff). Commented Nov 18, 2012 at 11:14
  • Emphasize the fact that next time you should think ahead and try to avoid blunders. Commented Oct 15, 2014 at 6:30
  • Hi ETD! I'm not a chess player, but I do have a question about 2. From my experience with other strategy games, isn't it very instructive sometimes to play lopsided games? For example, let's say you have lost your queen for not much gain. I'm thinking that continuing in such a game could help you better understand and appreciate the value of lesser pieces?
    – Ovi
    Commented Jan 10, 2018 at 23:32

I'll buck the trend here and say it's a bad idea to give takebacks if the blundering player intends to play in tournaments at any point in the future.

There are two reasons for this.

First, having to finish a blundered game brings home the pain of that blunder more clearly, and makes it more likely that the player will think ahead next time.

But even more importantly, a blunder isn't the same thing as a loss. Especially in games between young kids, it's quite possible that both sides will make several blunders during a game. Perhaps you make a terrible move and lose your queen. A few moves later your opponent may make a terrible move and lose his queen. And suddenly the game is reasonably winnable again.

Until you're at grandmaster level, there's no such thing as a game not worth finishing. The other player could blunder; he could run out of time; he could finish with a king and two bishops and not know how to checkmate that way. Learning to finish the game you start, even if it seems hopeless, is very important at lower levels of chess skill.


Here is a list of important points:


  • Both can continue playing and have fun without the need of starting a whole new game.


  • You don't take blunders seriously and increase the chance of making them on tournaments or important games.

I would say it's a bad habit, if it affects the final result. If you make a move on the board, you must accept the consequences. If you make a blunder and it obviously destroys your position - be a gentleman and admit you've lost the game. Of course you can keep playing, but would you consider yourself a winner if your opponent accepts your takeback request, you make a better move and finally outplay him (outplay as in "even if he doesn't make any obvious blunders like you did")?

  • "...would you consider yourself a winner if..." why shouldn't I?, my opponent also would have this choice to ctrl+z, at the end it will always be a good, blunderless game. And from my opinion only on blunderless games can be a real winner
    – ajax333221
    Commented Aug 8, 2012 at 23:55
  • Winning isn't about not making blunders. It's about making less blunders (or less severe mistakes) than your opponent :-) Commented Aug 9, 2012 at 0:00

My opinion: bad habit. Never ask for a takeback (unless it was a mouse slip online).

If it's a dreadful move then learn from it. If it's only a piece or a rook then it will force you to be resourceful to try and get the game back. You'd be surprised how often this is possible with the right mental attitude. This is a very useful skill.

"It happened, I haven't lost, he's going to be cocky, let's setup some traps to bring it back".

The sign of a good player is one who makes a blunder and doesn't event break sweat, your opponent might even start second guessing "Is there a deep sacrifice here I've missed".

Exception: If you are playing someone clearly weaker than you, and they make a blunder (in a friendly). Make a note of the position and go back to it after the game.


One rule that I have used: The person who makes the blunder has to concede a "first game."

But gets to "start" a "second" game, from before where the blunder took place.

This rule allows you to finish the game from a reasonable, balanced position, while inflicting a loss for the blunder.


As evidenced by the previous answers, it has its good and bad points. Primarily, you don't suffer the consequences of your bad moves.

However, if you want, you can use it as a teaching tool (for either of you), in that you can see that the move you were contemplating (or the one that you missed) had horrendous consequences, why, and then you can go back and try another line.

One way that you could limit the impact is like the concepts of mulligans in golf. Usually a player gets one per round, or alternatively, one per 9 holes, where you can play a bad shot over. You could limit the number of "moveagains" to one or two per player, and if you goof after that, well, you're out of luck.


I would say not; it's only games with your brother. Or think of it this way: does taking pieces away prior to starting the game increase the odds of you winning games?


It is a bad habit, if you want to improve your chess. The downside of allowing a second chance after a blunder is that you do not practice remaining focused during the entire game. Blunders occur when you lose concentration or when you fail to see what the opponent can reply. Learning to identify and avoid blunders is a key skill to reach success in chess (e.g. check out the Blumenfeld's Rule). Blunders cause decisive results on all levels. If your goal is to improve your chess skills, you should stop giving takebacks and practice being more focused. Accept blunders as a natural part of chess. Blunders will give you victories, but they will also cause some of your losses. One advice is to continue playing after a blunder the whole way until checkmate. That way, the blunder might remain better in memory and you will be more careful in the next game. Also, you get to practice your skills in defending a worse position. This is an extremely useful skill that is ignored by many and mastered by few.


Late to answer, but I do find it useful when trying to teach/learn about positional play. By allowing players to take back blunders, they learn to outplay their opponents positionally as opposed to just attacking and waiting for their opponent to make a mistake.



Always asking for takeback (it's not a good practice)

  1. will increase the blunders in your future/current games.
  2. decrease your confidence.
  3. will be a barrier to improving your calculation ability.

Allowing takebacks (it's a good practice)

  1. will help you to find more challenges in your game .
  2. will force you to find more better variations/solutions.


  • If your friend is an absolute beginner allowing take back may help them to learn chess tactics quickly.
  • If your friend is an improving player allowing take back will not help any more .

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