I played a skittles game (no clocks, arbiter etc.) against a beginner who did a lot of trash talking, which I didn't rise to. Here is an example of the conversation:

Beginner: I'm going to beat you easily!

Bad_Bishop: I'd like to see that. I play at quite a high level. Do you want a refresher on the rules, such as en passant and castling?

Beginner: No, I know all that already

Bad_Bishop: OK

Beginner: I'll take white. They always win!

Bad_Bishop: Hmmm...

Beginner: [Part way through the game] How do knights move again?

Bad_Bishop: In an 'L' shape

Beginner: [After being checkmated] OK, you won, but I took 2 pawns and a knight!

Bad_Bishop: Hmmm. Do you want to play a different game?

My questions are, should I have handled this beginner's trash talk differently? How?

I didn't keep a scoresheet, but this is what I remember of the opening:

[FEN ""]
[White "Beginner"]
[Black "Bad_Bishop"]

  1. b3             d5            
  2. Na3            e5            
  3. Nb1            Bc5           
  4. d4             Bxd4          
  5. Kd2            Bxa1          
  • 7
    During the game, I think ignoring the trash talk and letting the moves speak for themselves is fine. After, I would probably avoid playing with such an annoying player again for a while, unless necessary or there are signs of a change in attitude. I'd be more lenient if we are talking about a six-year old. :-)
    – itub
    Dec 2, 2017 at 14:04
  • 10
    Offer to play for money.
    – CWallach
    Dec 4, 2017 at 21:22
  • 6
    A good question for InterPersonnalSkills.SE ...
    – Evargalo
    Feb 6, 2018 at 14:21
  • I act humble so in case they demolish me I can fall back and act normal Feb 25, 2018 at 3:04

5 Answers 5


A much better way of handling it -

Beginner: I'm going to beat you easily!

Bad_Bishop: Of course you are.

Beginner: I'll take white. They always win!

Bad_Bishop: [Emphatically] Always! [pause, then with a note of doubt in your voice] Even when you are black?

Beginner: [After being checkmated] OK, you won, but I took 2 pawns and a knight!

Bad_Bishop: You were just so, so unlucky. [As you push the black pieces over to his side and start setting up the white pieces on your side] My turn as white.

  • 6
    I would add: "I can't believe it! I beat you with my left hand!"
    – Evargalo
    Dec 3, 2017 at 11:41
  • 1
    "Beginner: I'm going to beat you easily!" "Bad_Bishop: Would you please solve this captcha first?" Feb 26, 2018 at 20:29

This isn't about chess. It is about manners. I would explain to the youngster than this isn't Call of Duty. Trash talking is not acceptable.

"Young man, are you aware you're being rude to me?" "uh, what" "There is no trash talking in chess. There are only moves and they speak for themselves."


From experience, I would have done something like this:

Beginner: I'm gonna beat you easily!!

Bad_Bishop: Maybe, maybe not, anything can happen in chess ;)

Beginner: I'll be white. They always win!

Bad_Bishop: They don't win all the time ;)

Beginner: [After being checkmated]Ok, you won, but I took 2 pawns and a knight!

Bad_Bishop: True, but did you learn anything from this game, that's what's important. :)


If it is an online server you played the person on, avoid playing the user. There are better beginners to spend your time playing with out there.

If it is in the club, hard for me to say. Avoiding the player at the club, regardless of how the player acts, may give an unwanted reputation change but maybe not. Maybe people would be understanding, not sure. I typically in interactions like that(be it chess play or not) I assume conservatively and avoid the trash talking, take everything they say as a joke and brush it off. You gain nothing doing anything else as far as I am concerned.

They are obviously insecure about their game that they resort to trying to affect your mental game play by trash talking instead of making good moves on the board. Only the moves on the board win.

I have no tolerance for that type of etiquette/sportsmanship. As a lower level/rated player myself we should be grateful a higher level player agrees to play with us. We only get better when we play people who are better than we are.


IMO this is a subjective question.

Personally, I would start capturing his pieces one by one by forcing moves making sure I have a overwhelming material advantage before I make his king run all over the board, only to be choked in the center.

  • 4
    Just because someone is making a fool out of themselves, you don't have to be an even worse sportsman.
    – Annatar
    Feb 21, 2018 at 14:33
  • 1
    It is not worse sportsmanship. People are allowed to choose their strategies, no? That's why I said it was subjective, retorts to arrogance are different for different people. Feb 22, 2018 at 18:05
  • There is no need to humiliate your oponent. To paraphrase Baltasar Gracian, “A wise man can learn more from his enemies than a fool from his friends”.
    – Helio
    Mar 16, 2018 at 4:49