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How do you keep chess fun when the only person that wants to play against you beats you all the time? I am struggling to want to keep playing, because I get smashed all the time, and it is not fun anymore.

  • 1
    Nice question that I seek answer from the other point of view as I always play IRL with beginners that tends to not want to play anymore after a couple of defeats. – Puck Apr 12 at 7:54
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    Just train more :-) There are programs that play at different levels not by making silly mistakes but by "setting you up" in a position that you have to recognize to make the best move and get an advantage. I personally like Fritz but Shredder is also good. – ChatterOne Apr 12 at 12:06
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    Play with someone else maybe? – Tom Apr 12 at 13:48
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    One variant I like is for the strong player to play blindfolded and just call out his moves while the weak player physically manipulates the board. This gives the weak player the chance to take advantage of his opponent's mistakes. Another is that, until the strong player declares, "checkmate in X moves," the weak player can choose to switch sides with his opponent - and it is declared a win for the weak player if he can survive for longer than X moves after this declaration. This gives the weak player the chance to experience play from a position of strength. – Aoeuid Apr 13 at 16:52
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    I used to play against a stronger player. If I made a really obvious mistake mid-game, after taking my piece he would let us rewind the board. After a check-mate he would sometimes suggest we rewind and look for alternative moves. Occasionally after such a rewind we would switch sides. When I stopped making obvious mistakes, we played full games. This was more fun for both of us! – joeytwiddle Apr 16 at 2:03

17 Answers 17

36

There are many people who want to play chess with you. You can play chess online! Online sites such as chess.com and lichess.org will match you with opponents of similar rating so you should win about 50 percent of the time. Furthermore, playing online as well as studying chess will immensely improve your chess, and maybe you'll play your friend again and this time you will win!

33

There are lots of ways to play with a handicap in chess. One way is to give one player a starting material advantage, where the weaker player starts with an extra queen, or the stronger player replaces their queen with a bishop/rook, or starts with some of their pawns missing - anything that weakens one player's starting position can be used to even the odds. Another means of handicapping can be used in timed games, where the stronger player has a shorter clock than the weaker one, so can spend less time thinking about their moves.

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    Clock variants are a lot of fun! In high school there was one really good player so we'd have him play a one minute clock while the rest of us had 2-5 minutes depending on who – Adam Martin Apr 12 at 1:20
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    though many people do not like playing with handicaps because it's embarrassing when they lose and unrewarding when they win... – CognisMantis Apr 12 at 19:41
16

If you can change your attitude from this being a competition that you are "losing" to this being a tutorial, that should help a lot. Every time you play a game, you get more famailiar with lines and their responses. Consider each move to be a question (what sort of responses are this to this move?) rather than a challenge.

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    This is my favourite answer because the most important issue that stems from the question isn't that OP has trouble finding others to play with (as most answers here address) but that he considers losing to always be a bad thing and less fun. – Parrotmaster Apr 12 at 14:05
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    @Parrotmaster More precisely, he says he gets smashed every time. Losing after a good fight is fun, but being beaten so badly that you don't even know why you lost isn't. The OP might find it useful to ask their friend to explain where the big mistakes were made and what they might have done instead. This is particularly easy if you're playing using a program that permits rewinding the state to look at how the game went. I did that with a friend I used to play with regularly (and usually lost to, but after a good fight), and it both helped me improve and was entertaining in its own right. – Ray Apr 12 at 17:28
  • Might be hard to keep OP's opponent interested though. – jf328 Apr 17 at 13:08
6

In chess, like other sports we go through many falls to eventually find our balance and improve. Just like everyone goes through many falls before learning how to ride a bike. And then we want to be able to ride without our hands, well, that'll again take a good dozen of falls before we eventually master it, and this keeps happening at any juncture we challenge ourselves again.

These falls remain inherent to the learning process for as long as we intend to improve even further. That is to say that, even at the highest level, even the world champion, players are constantly reflecting back on each game and saying to themselves: "why did I lose this endgame?, where did I miss the win?, what went wrong in my opening?" and so on, until they eventually amend those weakpoints. So keep playing and stay focused on the game and your weak as well as strong points, and in due time you'll start beating your regular opponent as well. I'm sure the very opponent you speak of, has a friend to whom they also always lose to :), it's just a matter of perspective and realising how natural your experience is.

From another point of view, getting beat should not deter you from having fun, there's an element of purity to chess logic, a bit similar to that of learning mathematics, there is a peaceful quiet beauty to it. Think of it as there being something to learn in every game you play regardless of the outcome, shift your mindset onto better understanding the game and how to reason about it as opposed to beating a specific player.

Diversify your opponents, for example start playing online blitz/rapid games on lichess, quickly your rating will settle and your average opponent will be at the same level as you currently are, which will naturally lead to more balanced games. Like anything else, the competitive element should only be of major relevance if one intends to take the game to a professional level. Speaking of which, there's a very good related movie called "Innocent moves" or "Searching for Bobby Fischer", which you might find interesting: without spoiling, it's about a kid who discovers chess in a park and develops a strong sense of curiosity and passion for the game, who also happens to have a natural ability for it, but soon starts to have conflicting thoughts about it as soon as it becomes competitive: where it's expected of him to become the best, to beat everyone, to ceaselessly improve and to never fail, in other words they turn chess into another mindless responsibility for the kid in which he has to succeed as opposed to simply playing chess for the sheer fun of it, which should be the only point to playing any game.

Other than playing online, consider just getting into the habit of solving chess tactics where you have to find the best moves, treat it as any other puzzle game: there's no opponent and you'd simply be trying to get better at solving puzzles by discovering more about chess strategy and the art of coordinating your pieces in order to achieve specific objectives: checkmating, winning a piece, securing a draw, etc. The better you get at it the higher the gratification. There are various website you can start from: lichess, chesstempo, chess24.

You might also find it fun and instructive to watch chess lectures: in particular, Yasser Seirawan lectures tend to be quite fun and easy to go through, not only he provides a lot of insight and reveals a lot of the reasoning that goes into each move of a chosen game, he complements with a lot of lighter moments with his fun anecdotes. For example, his coverage of one of the 1972 Spassky-Fischer games, or the famous miniature games, ... there are many to choose from.

5

In regular tournaments both players write the moves down and play with clocks to make sure both players have the same amount of time for their moves. It is normal after the game for the players to analyze the game. They can do this easily because they have written the moves down. When I lose in a tournament I almost always ask my opponent if they would like to go over the game with me. Even if I "got smashed" this makes it much more interesting for me and I always learn something. Most opponents are friendly and helpful and will agree to do this.

To make the games more even the best way is to use the clocks. Start by giving both players 10 minutes each on the clocks. In subsequent games the loser gets another minute and the winner gets one minute less. If you reach 9 minutes versus 1 minute and still lose then go to 9 minutes 30 seconds vs 30 seconds, then 9 min 45 vs 15 seconds etc. Sooner or later you will come to a stage where you take it in turns to win.

3

Here's what I used to do while instructing the kids (usually the weaker player) in our local chess club: We would play a normal game of chess under standard rules, but the weaker player could request to swap colors at any time during the game. Like this, the stronger player gets a real challenge too. After the first switch, he's busy trying to regain the advantage he had over you a few moments ago. The weaker player trains to detect when his position gets "really bad" and he is about to get checkmated soon.

Overall, the games run for a longer time like this, which may resolve some of the frustration that you seem to experience. Have fun and continue playing!

  • Can they ask for a switch once per game, any number of times, or some fixed amount? – Nowhere man Apr 17 at 9:55
  • I never had to add some of these restrictions, at least I can't remember. They were totally free to when and how often they wanted to switch the board. But if you feel that it might be necessary in your case, just go ahead and setup the rules for "color changes" as you like. The Color-Change-Chess-Police won't come after you...;) – dirkbaechle Apr 17 at 13:24
3

This question transcends chess I think.

In any game/sport, there are people who are better than you and those that are worse. You can learn a lot by losing, way more than you can learn by winning against easy opponents.

Analyze your games. Ask why your opponent made moves he made that you didn't see when you were playing with them. Get better.

My local chess club is small and I am the strongest of the bunch. It's much less fun to win all the time and learn nothing from it. Losing and learning from those losses is a quality problem to have.

3

Honestly, it is not fun at all if you feel you can and will never win. Losing sometimes is fine, but losing all the time is extremely frustrating.

I think you can make it more fun by doing a few things:

1. Make it a goal to improve your chess. Solving tactics puzzles can be fun and feel rewarding to solve. They also improve your chess. If you improve, you can reach the point where you are able to win sometimes against your opponent. It is much more fun to play chess when you feel you have a chance to win. You can improve a lot by learning to see simple tactics quickly and by being mindful of undefended pieces (yours and your opponent's).

2. Go over your games with your opponent. This will give you some perspective that will help you understand where you are making mistakes. You may find that you make the same sort of mistakes often. You can identify the issues and know where you need to focus to improve. In this way it plays into point 1 by helping you improve. It also gives you a chance to enjoy a chess activity with your opponent without feeling the stress of making a mistake like in a game. You can walk through the game and discuss what-ifs and even play them out a bit. You sort of turn chess into a cooperative game for a time when you are walking through a game together.

3. Play a larger variety of opponents. You can play online at various websites against players of similar skill. The rating system is great because you can be matched with an opponent that you can beat, but who can also potentially beat you. I find that this tension makes chess much more fun. This will give you other exposure to chess where you feel you can win. It may make you feel less frustrated playing against a player you are not likely to beat. You won't feel that you lose every game anymore so it can be easier to brush off those loses.

1

It depends on what you want with chess.

If you’re willing to play chess to be able to win, you’re in for a huge disappointment.

Let me take the example of Nim, which is a simpler game. You learn the rules, and start to play and have fun. Until you meet somebody who knows the true structure of the game, and the invisible goal to pursue (enforcing the binary parity of stacks) They start to smash you every time you play with them, and you don’t understand why.

Chess is like that, but with more layers of understanding. You learn the rules, you play, until you play against someone who counts attacks and defenses on pieces better than you, and they start gaining material advantage over you at every game. If they care to explain it to you, you start to see something invisible that is more interesting, and you may get better, even starting not to lose so many pieces so sillily.

Then you meet someone else who knows about how pawns play against each other in the endgame, once the queens are no more on the board, and they start exchanging all the pieces and you end up with a shattered pawn structure at every game, and their king being centralized sooner than yours, and you don’t understand how they can promote to queen every time and you lose. If they care to explain it to you, you may get better, but this requires time, thinking and dedication.

Or maybe you meet someone who read Nimzovitch’s "My system" and you end up having your opponent’s rooks slaughter your pawn line at every game... et cetera.

In the end, someone who is better than you has learned to see invisible things in the game that you don’t see yet.

Now, do you want play chess to understand the game and what it is made of? Or do you want to play just for fun? Both are OK. There are people who play for the former, some for the latter, some for both. Fun will be there if your opponent can adapt to your level and can teach you. I would advise you to walk away from a person whose only aim is winning.

Fun is slowly disappearing from high-level chess, as Aleksandra Kosteniuk puts it forward. A chess game will be won by the one who could, during training, mine a better acute line of play from a commonly played line. Less and less things are unknown about chess. Kosteniuk advocates for playing Chess360. That may be a lead for you.

I’d advise you to try to play online, with people who are about your level. Try also other variations of chess, maybe fairy chess, Chess360, or others.

1

It may be hard to accept, but losing is the best way to learn and improve. Think of each game as a lesson. The one-time world champion Jose Capablanca said you had to lose 10,000 games to learn chess. You should also record your games and go over them later to see what you did wrong and how you could have improved upon your play. Having a stronger player look at them is also a good idea. Studying annotated master games is also recommended. And don't take your losses so seriously. They are not a measure of your worth. They just show that you have more to learn. Chess is not a quick study. If you want to see your progress, you must play other players too. I'm sure there are some at your skill level. You can even do that online if necessary. Be sure to start with slower games though, not speed chess. You need time to think and make plans. Unless you are one of the few who are professional players, chess is just a game. It has many pleasures. Enjoy it! I have played since 1948 (I'm 83), and although I went through periods of losses as you are doing, I persevered and have never regretted it. Just playing can be fun and intellectually satisfying. Think of it as problem solving. In fact working on problems in itself can be fun as well as educational. Chess has been one of the enduring joys of my life. Don't give up on it.

1

If the rating difference is large (say, 400+ points), then you probably aren't going to beat them much so odds games and playing other players seem like the best idea.

However, if you are closer in rating you should stand a decent chance of winning so in that case I would say look for opening ideas, try to improve overall and analyze each ga 01me.

0

I noticed one thing playing chess: I adjust my level to my opponent's level.

If I play against a weak player, I play weak too.

Against a strong player I play better.

I don't know what the reason for this is, maybe because I lose interest playing against a weak opponent.

So, I prefer to play against strong players even if I lose.

0

Don't play with that opponent :)

That or ask for piece/clock odds, but they'd have to agree.

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Sir, when you lose you learn many new lines, variations, tactics etc. and improve your database of knowledge which definitely helps to beat others in the game.

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I began playing chess in school in 7th grade and lost my first game in four moves. For the first year and one half I didn't win a single game against anyone. That brings us to the middle of my 8th grade year. We had a chess ladder and I wanted to be on the 10th spot (of 10 total). I was due to challenge the 10th spot that day but my opponent was home ill from school and did not show. We had a rule you could challenge up to two spots up on the ladder and the person holding the 9th spot was there that night. I challenged him and won. Since then I climbed the ladder to the 1st spot.

I'm now 45 years old but I can tell you I am grateful for that 1 1/2 year of losses and I am grateful I didn't give up. I learned that there must be more to chess than winning and losing. That, or I'm a glutton for punishment. I do believe that this story adds credence to Garry Kasparov's quote: "Current success is the greatest enemy of future success." You may be losing repeatedly but I can guarantee you that you are storing up valuable lessons along the way. Hopefully, you too, will score your first victory against this opponent and it will be the change in momentum and the gain in confidence needed to start off a series of wins and your story might help encourage others in the same boat.

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I think that the only way out of this situation is to seriously work at improving your chess, and possibly start beating him from time to time.

-2

Read a book and get better.

It's like basketball. You want to compete with the best? Get good.

Read My System by Nimzowitsch.

protected by Phonon Apr 13 at 11:08

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