I have been in a situation where I have not been paying attention and suddenly I move my queen to an unprotected square and it is taken. My initial thought is:

Oh $*%! :)

But if the blunder is mediocre or not devastating, how does one get into the mindset of remaining optimistic and still playing for the win? I have lost my queen before and still went on to win, but this is mainly due to the fact that my opponent does not know how to take advantage of the opportunity.

Many players who make a blunder, obviously depending on how big it is, might just give up in the game when they actually still have a chance to win or at least draw.

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    Related : chess.stackexchange.com/questions/1354/… Commented Dec 6, 2012 at 16:54
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    @NikanaReklawyks - That question is particular to not blundering the queen. This question is more broad, but has more to do with after you have made a blunder, how do you remain optimistic instead of just throwing the game away?
    – xaisoft
    Commented Dec 6, 2012 at 16:56
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    The question is, but some answers, especially the better one, would be a perfect fit here. Commented Dec 6, 2012 at 17:14
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    After your opponent takes your queen, give a little half smile and immediately make the first move that comes to mind, banging the piece down with authority. Your opponent will run out the clock looking for the line that you so obviously foresaw. Commented Mar 12, 2014 at 21:24
  • Actually, your question are really two: do you want to save your game or your dignity? In the latter case, I usually don't give a $*%! about my blunder, as tomorrow I might again bring a GM to screaming for his mum - I am a hopeless "kaffeehaus" case :-) Commented Feb 11, 2021 at 15:42

7 Answers 7


After you blunder, it's incredibly common to blunder a second time over the next few moves. The most important thing you can do is to avoid this second blunder.

In order to do that, you should take a few deep breaths and even get up and walk around. Although it's nice if your opponent doesn't know that you blundered (i.e. your "blunder" could be part of a deep plan so far as your opponent knows...), it's far more important to remain calm and stay focused on the game.

After this initial "cool down", now it's time to re-evaluate the game. First, are you hopelessly lost at this point, or is the position still unclear? Perhaps you gave away your winning advantage, but you are still equal. If you are not lost, it is crucial that you maintain your focus and play accurately - you still have a chance to win or draw.

On the other hand, if your blunder was so egregious that your game is hopeless now, it's time to start thinking about "tricks". For example, if you hung a pawn or two for nothing, it's time to attack with abandon. If you can checkmate your opponent, it doesn't matter that you're losing an endgame. If you hung an entire piece, keep all other material on the board and maintain tension in the position. The goal here is to try to win tactically (win material back from your opponent or go for an attack). Another common theme is to introduce time pressure into the game. Either play tricky moves and force your opponent to get low on time, or let your own clock tick down to a minute or two and pray that your opponent blunders in your time pressure.

As a final note, when you are behind in a chess game, it's almost always good to trade pawns, but not pieces. The rationale is that in an endgame, each pawn is a potential queen for your opponent, while on the other hand, pawnless endgames with an extra piece are notoriously difficult to convert to a win.

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    An interesting point about pawns, +1
    – Travis J
    Commented Jan 5, 2013 at 8:01
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    Is it common for your opponent to blunder in your time pressure? I hadn't heard of this and it strikes me a bit funny. I'd like to think it is something I wouldn't do, but I'd like to think I wouldn't blunder in any circumstance--- which is plainly false.
    – Dennis
    Commented Jan 6, 2013 at 3:37
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    @Dennis, good question, it actually happens a lot more than you would think. Once you have to start moving very quickly, your opponent will often fall into the trap of also blitzing out moves to try and get you to flag.
    – Andrew
    Commented Jan 6, 2013 at 16:08
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    @Dennis it's certainly a thing that can happen- the opponent wants to move fast and deny you time to think on their turn, so they move fast. Thus, it makes it much more possible for them to blunder
    – pulsar512b
    Commented Feb 11, 2021 at 23:16
  • Great answer. I would like to mention something many average-level players fail to do: when are at a slight disadvantage, seriously consider the possibility of coverting the game into a draw. Chances for a draw spring up more often than people realise, and can be found if you keep an eye for it. Commented May 16, 2022 at 13:09

"Let the one who hasn't blundered a major piece throw the first rock!" Who among us is impervious to this?

Again, there is no definitive answer to this question, just a list of things we could do to cope.

  1. First, Go Easy On Yourself. Don't make it worse by mentally kicking yourself incessantly. I often try to apply the Dennis Prager "Flat Tire quota" in life. We are all going to have a certain number of 'flats' at really bad times, but that is life, and especially an amateur chess player's rite of passage.

  2. The game is probably lost, but don't let your opponent capitalize on it psychologically, just keep playing at least for a bit. The loss of a piece might actually allow for unexpected moves to throw the opponent off. Try to salvage as best as you can.

  3. What can you take-away? Can you add something to your mental checklist to minimize (not eliminate) your future blunders?

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    +1 go easy on yourself. Beating yourself up over mistakes can make you passive which is far worse than blundering occasionally.
    – Tony Ennis
    Commented Dec 18, 2012 at 2:43

You just can hope your opponent makes a mistake too or finding an awesome move to re-gain some advantage. If you do, draw is possible at least. Moreover, more concentration will help you in this case.

In other case, your opponent has many chances to win.

  • What you point above does in fact happen many times, but one thing I have seen is that beginners often see losing an unprotected Knight and Queen as equal which Obviously means that they are not aware of the value of the pieces.
    – xaisoft
    Commented Dec 6, 2012 at 16:58

I have had a situation similar to this plenty of times when I was learning. Once, during a tournament, I was having a bad day and was almost giving my pieces away, for free! And then, I spotted the golden opportunity.

If I could trick my opponent into taking my queen with his "for free", I could then forcibly mate him in 4 moves. Given how I had been playing, sacrificing another piece "for nothing" wasn't that suspicious. My opponent took the bait and I won the game with about 14 points in pieces down.

Beyond mind games, though, I don't really have an answer for you.

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    A good example of the benefits of keeping a cool head.
    – Tony Ennis
    Commented Dec 18, 2012 at 2:44

If the blunder has been noticed by the opponent and the opponent captures e.g. the lost pawn, do the following. Make a fresh evaluation of the position on the board. What plan can you have in the new position. What is the opponent's plan and how can you counter this. What are your best options during the next moves. Then, make a plan and execute it on the board.

Many opponents relax after getting a material advantage. They think that the game is in their pocket and they can slide their way to victory. You should put your both feet down and start working hard. Put up a fight. Start looking for what traps you can create. Perhaps "blunder" another pawn and then launch an attack on the king. The more and better you resist, the more frustrated the opponent will become. What is this? The opponent might think. Why doesn't the opponent just roll over and lose? Their fighting spirit has taken a break. You can use it to your advantage.


One of the best strategies I feel is when you blunder and find yourself in a weak or vulnerable position, take a deep breath, salvage anything you can and then launch an all out attack in any way possible. Go for the king, something an opponent on top will not expect and do it with gusto and almost reckless abandon. Dont cower! Heck, if your going to lose, go down fighting and give your opponent as much of a scare as possible!


Positive thinking is important. Learning to take a step back is good. But we can prepare for it too. And not in the "omg what if the worst happens" sort of way.

Even looking through my best games, I see where I made mistakes that could've given my opponent the initiative. It sort of ruins them. Even in good games where I did pretty well and beat a strong opponent, I made mistakes. Perhaps I even blundered before playing a strong attack.

With the advent of computers, we can see factual evidence and data that, yes, we make a lot of mistakes every game, and perhaps our "fatal" blunder was not so fatal and we had chances to win even later, but we just overlooked them, or a crushing-looking move ... wasn't.

I try to sit back and nod my head, maybe even run a tune through my head. Maybe a song about how the past is over. Just the chorus can work. Foreigner's "That Was Yesterday" or Eddie Money's "I Wanna Go Back." Or sometimes if I realize right away my position isn't so bad, Simple Minds's "Alive and Kicking." Nothing super-outright-motivational or run through a brick wall stuff, but one that works for you. And you don't have to worry about what the song really means or if you're bowdlerizing it. Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive" is also a good choice.

But the main thing is, instead of using energy to beat myself up, I save it for awareness. We all say we want to, but having that computer data of how frequent blunders are in below-master level play helps, and framing it as what to focus on vs. what to avoid helps a lot.

What did my opponent miss? What might they miss? Did losing material free my position unexpectedly?

You can't expect your opponent to slip up. But give them that chance. They might get frustrated you started playing better. Oh -- and study your games for when opponents came back from a blunder. That hurts, but somehow, those are easier to remember when you need to pull a position out of the fire later.

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