I have been playing chess for almost a 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 University and my grades have dropped.

  • I'm not devoting enough time to my work place.

  • I'm barely going out with my friends

  • I do less sports

  • I've 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 by only 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.


I'm mainly addicted to blitz, the problem is that I lack self control to restrain myself from playing it. I have tried a few times to stop playing only blitz but failed to accomplish that and went back to my bad habits. I wish there was an option to open an account that would only be allowed to play long time control games, to help people like me. Once I play blitz I usually just crave reaching 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 successfully, and I want to keep my level there. I fear that without this abusive online playing my abilities OTB will be damaged.


8 Answers 8


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.


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.


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 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.


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.


Chess is addictive.

Yes you can improve more by not playing online.

But your LIFE would improve even more than your chess if you gave it up or at least made it a very casual hobby instead of trying to improve your game more. You will NOT be a GM. I guarantee it. And if you did, they are a dime a dozen these days. So if you are not in the handful of top world players you will not make any money at chess.

WHY are you playing chess at all? Your list pretty much says chess is messing up your REAL LIFE. If you are logical enough to play chess well you are logical enough to know you should stop playing.

Now, chess is addictive, so find some professional help to break that addiction.



Play against Computers instead of humans. I found that playing against the computer is less addictive, as there is no ego involved.

There is a new artificial intelligence called Maia who plays like a human. You can play against it. Keep solving puzzles daily to keep yourself tactically fit.


I'm not a psychologist, but I think you should find out if you are an addiction-prone personality. If yes, then chess would be one of the better choices, since you just might land at another addiction to get the kicks. Willpower is the magic word, and as a chessplayer, your chances are good anyway.

To answer the direct question, I never played online chess in my life and never will do, and still I'm quite strong. It will be an interesting experiment to find out what happened to my ELO after the pandemy, but I guess a few tournaments will put me into shape again. So I don't think it will ruin your ELO giving up online blitz if you read some chess books, solve tactics etc.

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