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I have been playing chess for almost an year and I'm addicted to playing chess on Lichess. My stats there are: 2100 classical 2000 rapid 1800 blitz

I feel that playing chess online ruins my life and that my life would be much better without it at the moment.

  • I'm studying at the University and my grades dropped.

  • I'm not devoted enough in my work place.

  • I'm barely going out with my friends

  • I do less sports
  • I dropped some of my other fun hobbies
  • I sleep very late
  • I barely go on dates

All of these are results of my online chess addiction. However, after all that said, it makes me sad to think that I will give up chess completely. I still want to keep my playing skills and improve.

Can a chess player keep himself in shape only by studying chess (which is not as addictive as playing online) and playing long time control OTB tournaments once in a while? Or should I quit chess completely?

Please help me by finding some things that I could do to stay good at chess while not playing online.

Edit:

I'm mainly addicted to blitz, the problem is that I lack self control to retain myself from playing it. I tried a few times to stop playing blitz only but failed to accomplish and went back to my bad habits. I wish there was an option to open an account that would be allowed to play long time control games only to help people like me. Once I play blitz I usually just crave to reach a specific rating and I play like am possessed.

I started playing in a local chess club a few months ago. I already got to play 3 long time control tournaments, quite sucessfully and I want to keep my level there. I fear that without this abusive online playing my abilities OTB will be damaged

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    Those are pretty good stats. I would try to get 2000 blitz, then join a local club. – Jossie Calderon May 7 at 0:46
  • How would you advise me to improve to that level without playing online? Those online sessions, specifically blitz sessions have a huge negative influence on me. – user19048 May 7 at 0:50
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    Don't give up on chess, just on blitz (at least online). I suspect that what's addictive is blitz because of the speed and adrenaline rush. It's hard to get addicted in the same way to a weekly game or two, lasting for hours, at a club. Also the fact that real-life tournaments are scheduled means you won't be binging at 3 am. – itub May 7 at 11:02
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    What's your stats on chess.com? I'm asking because I heard that chess.com ratings are less inflated than lichess ratings - when compared to say, USCF or FIDE - but I really don't know. – Andrew Brooks May 7 at 14:11
  • @itub please see my edit. I do play OTB, I'm fearing that without spending a horrifying amount of time on online games would affect my level on OTB tournaments. – user19048 May 7 at 18:44
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I'd like to start with this comment of yours:

"I fear that without this abusive online playing my abilities OTB will be damaged."

I know where you are coming from, because I've been there, too. I used to be ridiculously addicted to chess - and I wasn't even very good lol. Now it's a hobby, which is much more healthy.

I also know that fear you speak of - I, and people like myself (which presumably includes you) strive for depth, rather than breadth in life. Being very good at one thing seems so much more important than being kind of good at a lot of things; trouble is, I picked the wrong thing.

Personally, I had to completely stop playing chess for a while. When I came back to it (in a more recreational fashion), I was indeed worse at chess, and though I have improved, I'm still not completely back to where I was (although I strongly suspect I'll get there).

It was completely worth it.

I had free-time. I had sleep. I had better grades. By golly, I even had more friends - not fair-weather friends, but honest-to-goodness friends that cared about me and my life.

I say all of this to encourage you that even if your playing ability drops off, please don't worry about it. Chess is not your life. Your life is your life. Go out and live it! Study with all of your strength, go on dates, hang out with your friends, work your rear end off and become the absolutely amazing, incredible person that you are - one that's always up for a relaxing game of chess with a friend, of course.


Now for the practical suggestions:


Here are some suggestions for maintaining playing strength while limiting online chess:

  • Study master games. Seriously, doing this will get you way more chess knowledge than playing oodles of blitz games.

  • Read some chess books, playing out the games on the board if you wish. These books are almost always entertaining as well as being extremely helpful.

  • Play casually OTB with some friends, analyzing various lines at a relaxed pace - chat with a friend (or maybe even a date) over a nice, no-pressure, slow game (although if it's a date, make sure that she likes chess first XD).

  • Visit you local chess club, and play some games there when you're in a good spot with your schoolwork and workplace work.

TL;DR: it really is possible to enjoy chess and have a life.

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I agree with itub's comment. You don't neccessarily have to give up on playing online altogether, but ask yourself whether you just play on at times, game after game, like you're possessed. Does chess become an obsession rather than recreation? Does this happen to you for all time controls?

In general, obsessive playing is more likely when playing blitz (or even faster time controls than that) due to prolonged adrenaline rushes being more likely in faster time controls (in general you get some time to calm yourself down between moves during a longer game).

If you feel like the situation is getting out of hand you shouldn't hesitate to take a break from online chess for a while, and remember that taking a break for now doesn't mean you have to give up playing for the rest of your life. Another thing that you could do that itub also suggested in his comment is to join a local chess club and play chess OTB in general. One of the issues with online chess that makes it addictive is that there's always someone willing to play you online, no matter what time it is, an issue which doesn't really exist with OTB chess in general.

When it comes to keeping oneself in shape chess-wise, I think you don't need to worry that much. If you stop playing completely you will naturally get rusty, but your ability to play will not disappear very easily. When I was inactive for a while during my years as an undergrad I had some issues when I started playing again, but these issues were intimately connected with time management and self-doubt, and after a tournament or two I was already back at full strenght. In general, if you play about 4-5 OTB tournaments a year I have a hard time seeing you even getting rusty in the first place, and if you work on your chess inbetween tournaments by studying chess in general I don't see why you couldn't improve.

  • Please see my edit – user19048 May 7 at 18:41
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    @S.Peter Noted. If I were in your shoes I would probably take a break from online chess altogether for a while then. And depending on how serious your situation is, don't forget that seeking professional help is never off the table. After all, we're all just strangers here on the site, so the responses you receive here will never be made with your entire situation taken into account. I wish you luck in finding a way to deal with your situation. – Scounged May 7 at 20:28
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I would recommend playing in tournaments at your local chess club. Aim for longer games with at least 30 minutes for each side (the longer the better). Based on your online rating, you should be somewhere in the middle of the field depending on the strength of your club.

It may take you some time to adjust to playing over the board if you aren't used to it. However, with practice your online chess skills should transfer to a physical chess board just fine.

  • Please see my edit – user19048 May 7 at 18:43
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In my opinion, online chess often does more to ruin your game than to actually improve it, as most of the time we are just playing Blitz, with not too much thought and with zero analysis of the game

So review your games (I mean, actually do it, not just run them through an engine), find your weakest point and get your hands on a good chess book that treats that topic in depth. A coach is not a bad idea if you can afford it either, but even if you can't, it won't be hard to find some "chess pals" and train with them.

Finally, on the matter of self-control: 1) Try harder! 2) Avoid the temptation by not logging into the site at all! When you play blitz, let it at least be a social activity at the chess club/bar/whatever you're closest to

  • I don't blitz when I delete my account ;) Going to stop with that online thing for a while. – user19048 May 9 at 17:22
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If chess is stopping your normal life you should just stop it. It’s not a career for you.

Fischer played better chess than you but never played online. It’s of course possible to improve without playing online. Why not read digital books like Chessable.com? What about study your own game with a computer?

Come out for real tournaments to gain FIDE points whenever you have some time.

  • Please see my edit – user19048 May 7 at 18:43

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