I have played 99% of my games online, I have seen and learn almost everything related to chess with the fonts Alpha or Mérida, either through diagrams or games, etc .

However, when I play with an actual chessboard, I blunder too much, I have trouble with my board vision, I completely miss threats and can't really focus well (I play with around half of my strength even with take-backs).

  • Anyone ever heard or read about this issue?
  • Are there some tricks I can use to make the process of getting used to them faster, different than the obvious "just play a lot on them"?
  • Can this issue appear on people who play 99% OTBR chess and then try online chess?
  • I played chess online for 8 years and never played any in-person games. Last month I played in a tournament first time in my life and I seriously had that problem. The issue I think is that when I calculate, I visualise the board in my head in the 2d vision and that is totally different with a 3d board. I can't do any serious calculation in that tourney. It's like doing arithmetics in Roman numerals.
    – jf328
    Commented May 15, 2023 at 2:22

6 Answers 6


I had the same problem which (to some extent) I've managed to overcome.

I didn't ever get enough chances to practice OTB games so I could never get used to it. My solution was to play online games with a real board in front of me. I made myself play out the moves on the board and used my computer only to get my opponents move and to enter mine. As long as time constraints aren't too much of an issue it's not much hassle. After a while playing with actual boards was just as easy as without.

  • I did know someone describing the same phenomenon, i.e. he had a very hard time playing on a 3D real board. He was mostly a bullet player, online, being used to premove, etc., which maybe augmented the discomfort OTB.

  • Apart from “get used to it”, I don't know any ways to accelerate that. Make sure you really wanna get used to it, don't stay in the “I can't play on this” mindset that would hold you back, even if it is tempting at first to raise that excuse all the time — maybe.

  • Totally. Many club players I knew told me they didn't play online because they couldn't see anything, etc.


The most annoying thing when you switch from online playing to OTB games is that you don't have a full vision of the board.

Getting used to play 2D, you probably have developed your calculating skills with an "above vision". With this kind of vision a player can focus on lines and spots, and pieces do not interfere since they are "flat". But when you play OTB, you have to look at the board only from you side, with pieces messing around. Thus, you miss some threats that you probably would notice on a screen. And usually this is due to the fact that "you don't see the lines". In my experience, I noticed that this happens especially with Bishops and Knights.

You can't "flatten" real pieces, of course. And you have to get used to 3D pieces in order to "see lines" on a real board.

In the meantime, you can try to play chess looking the board "from above": standing near the table instead of sitting, for example. This will diminish (a little) the traumatic switch from 2D to OTB.

  • "You can't flatten real pieces" - I have a portable chess set where the pieces have the form of coins with a piece symbol. That wouldn't help playing with non-flat pieces though.
    – 11684
    Commented Sep 26, 2015 at 21:07

I prefer to play OTB, even though I have played roughly 30,000 games online. I think it is easier to see the pieces, the board, where things will go.

If you have issues playing OTB, then perhaps you should try to go through some "mate in x" puzzles with a real board. Other than playing with a real board though, there is nothing that is going to help. It should come quickly to you since you obviously know the game from playing online.


Same here, I had trouble playing with actual wooden chess before, especially with real chess clocks. The solution is to engage yourself in chess by playing in actual chess games.

Join to local chess clubs or play with your friends with actual chess boards. Soon playing with an actual chessboard and online games will have no difference.

It took me 3 months to cope with this problem. Now I can play naturally without blundering on an actual chess board just like how I play with online chess games.



Can this issue appear on people who play 99% wooden chess and then try online chess?

Yes, this was my experience transitioning to online chess. My vision was bad for a while. Doing many online tactics puzzles helped. Now I don't experience any different between online and over the board vision.

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