I've been dealing with this for a while and the game can just sometimes be overwhelming. I really don't know how to calm myself and it might be effecting my play. I've been told maybe its because I don't do enough physical exercise but I'm quite fit so I know its definitely a psychological/mental issue. Maybe its my ego that can't take losing? After all I did put quite a considerable amount of effort and time in this game so it hurts to lose against someone you know who hasn't done the same even if its only once out of lets say a hundred games. Chess I think is probably bad for my health, I honestly start to feel hatred or anger towards my opponent sometimes such as if they play it like blitz chess or something. Maybe Its about time I just quit chess all together, that option has really slowly grown more appealing to be honest. Has anyone experienced something like this?

  • This question might prove very difficult for the community to answer. It may be an idea to talk to a sports psychologist. One thing I do know though is that if you are too results-oriented while playing, it will affect your game negatively. Try to remember that everybody loses all the time, no matter how good they are. It's part of being human. If you play, try to play to have a good time, and try to stay as objective as possible regarding the position. Don't think about your opponent's dedication when you play. In the end it's completely irrelevant. Only the current position matters.
    – Scounged
    Apr 20, 2016 at 10:58
  • I used to be playing chess lots at chess clubs and wanting a rematch to make up for careless mistakes. I didn't like what chess was doing to my brain so I stopped altogether. Later, I went back once and this time, I worry only about thinking a tiny bit ahead. When I blundered my queen in one of those games, I didn't get a bad feeling because it was so much later than the time I stopped playing chess.
    – Timothy
    Jun 15, 2020 at 1:27
  • I don't know what can be done. I think that eventually, there's going to be a really good research technique that combines so many problems into one. Then you will probably get an answer to this question redirecting you to an expert in the right topic.
    – Timothy
    Jun 15, 2020 at 1:35

2 Answers 2


I really don't know how to calm myself and it might be effecting my play

Many people feel this way, e.g. becoming excited after winning material, or becoming upset when we slip from dynamic equality to a losing position.

To paraphrase IM Josh Waitzkin, who has a tutorial called The Psychology of Competition in the Chessmaster program:

  1. Change your biochemistry to bring you back to the moment, e.g. take a break from the game, wash your face, or jog up a flight of stairs
  2. Don't feel positively or negatively about previous positions. Stay objective and focus on just the position in front of you, rather than the preceding events. This is what a computer does

Chess I think is probably bad for my health

I'm not a doctor and I can't advise you on your health. If you feel that it is impacting your health, see your doctor. After all, your health is more important than playing chess.

Maybe its about time I just quit chess all together

Before you consider quitting chess, I would advise that you try a different, slower time control. I dislike blitz because I just don't have the time to play at the level that I would like to do.

Also, you may want to consider what it is that motivates you to play chess. Is it:

  1. The competitive element?
  2. The feeling of self improvement?
  3. The artistry of the game?
  4. Social engagement?
  5. Something else?

If you don't feel motivated to play, then there is no need to force yourself into it.


  1. What you feel is very common. Try to train yourself to remain objective when playing chess
  2. If you feel the game is impacting your health, see a doctor
  3. Reassess what you want from chess. If it isn't providing what you need, consider trying a different hobby

I can certainly feel your pain. I too have "chess anxiety", and performance anxiety ("stage fright") generally. For me, on some self-reflection, I saw that some of it came from an "inflated opinion" of my own ability, and there are possible hints of that in your "considerable amount of effort and time" comment too. In many ways it seems that "chess cannot be that hard", and yet it certainly is. If you can come to terms with these natural psychological-denial- and ego-type issues, it could help. For example, can you envision the next time you drop a piece (and it will happen sometimes right?) just laughing it off as "silly me" and playing on? Your opponent may just as easily drop a piece (later) too -- in a way non-master chess is much like the blind beating the blind with their canes.

One time in frustration I played some don't-matter online games with the goal of losing. And was amazed at how many mates my opponents were missing. That was an eye-opener.

Another problem for me with gameplay was the clock vs. my perfectionism. I got much better results, and more satisfaction even when losing, by re-orienting toward faster-but-good/sufficient/reasonable moves over my usual best-move obsession. (One problem with the latter for me was it often blinded me to the fact that I was under an attack and needed a good defensive move rather than an offensive one. I.e. situational blindness.)

Hope some of this helps. Good luck and enjoy the game.

P.S. I agree with the suggestion to investigate "sports psychology", even though I haven't myself. Even if only reading a book on it...

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