How to Play Chess by Yourself (Without Getting Bored)

Have you tried playing chess by yourself before? If not, you’re missing out on one of the most effective training techniques. It’s not easy, but you can’t earn a title like a chess grandmaster without mastering the art of playing chess by yourself.

The secret to knowing how to play chess by yourself is being able to play two opposing games simultaneously. You learn how to play out a strategy and how to play its countermoves. Once you master the art of playing solo chess, you can take your skills to the moon.

Before we explain how to play chess by yourself, let’s see why you should do it.

Why Should You Play Chess by Yourself?

As much as playing chess alone could be difficult and time-consuming, it’s extremely rewarding to those who learn this skill. The benefits of playing chess by yourself include:

  • Practicing new strategies and tactics before applying them in an actual game
  • Training yourself to think out of the box and come up with a counterstrategy to beat yourself, which isn’t easy when you know your own moves.
  • Expanding your mind and boosting your cognitive skills by being in a battle with yourself.
  • Benefiting from playing chess without needing an opponent.
  • Learning self-improvement, creative thinking, and problem-solving.
  • Protecting yourself from degenerative brain diseases, such as Alzheimer’s.
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5 Steps to Play Chess by Yourself

Now that you know the “why” behind playing chess by yourself, let’s walk you through the “how.”

Set Up Your Board

Set up the chess pieces on your board as you’d normally do when playing with an opponent. It’s best if you sit facing one side of the board the same way you’d sit in a real game. Since we always start with white, keep the side with the white pieces in front of you to start the game.

Take Your Time Between Every Move

Don’t rush the game. Take some time between every move to change perspectives and think of a strategy that works best for each side of the game.

Your pause could be the time you take to move to the opposing side of the board, a few extra minutes where you get up and stretch between moves, or even a few hours to rest your eyes overnight and come back the next morning to complete the game with a fresh perspective.

Remember, this game is about skills and battling your own logic, not speed.

Don’t Copy Your Moves

As obvious as this may sound, it’s the hardest thing to do when you first start playing by yourself. It’s hard to not fall into the patterns that you’re used to and copy your moves on both sides of the game.

However, you need to try as hard as you can to avoid that. Otherwise, you’ll end up stuck at a dead-end with nothing else left to save the game.

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Write Down Chess Notations

Another way to stop yourself from rushing the game is by writing down your moves. Not only do chess notations give you time to think about your next move and assess your strategy, but it also allows you to pause your game and pick up where you left off the next day.

When you finish the game, you could analyze the whole game and learn from the moves you’ve written.

Play on Each Side With the Intention to Win

Remember to be unbiased throughout the whole game and never favor one side over the other. You need to play without planning for one side to win because if you do, the whole game won’t benefit you at all. You’ll be just moving pieces to play out a strategy, not test it.

Additional Tips for Playing Chess By Yourself

Along with the previous steps, we’ve gathered some extra tips to help make your experience easier and better.

Use a Token to Mark the Next Turn

If you decide to pause your game and walk away for some time, it’s best to mark where the next turn is because you’ll probably forget by the time you come back. You could mark it with anything around you, such as a coin, a pencil, or even your notation sheet.

Practice New Tactics and Strategies

Playing with yourself is the best way to try out new tactics and strategies, it allows you to learn how to play it out on one side, and how to play your countermove on the other side if your opponent uses this strategy. So you’re actually practicing two strategies at the same time.

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Practice Your Best Openings

Openings are a huge factor in your game strategy. That’s why mastering your chess openings is essential if you want to become a pro. Practicing your openings by yourself gives you the edge of noticing any weaknesses in them and trying to improve them.

Compare Your Moves to Those of a Chess Grand Master

Remember those notations you wrote down? After finishing your game, compare your strategies to those of a famous game. Learn how grandmasters play the same strategies that you’ve played to strengthen your skills and become a better player.

Try Playing with a Chess Clock

When playing with yourself, set up a chess clock beside you. That way, you can familiarize yourself with using it while playing.

Of course, playing with yourself won’t be the same as playing with an opponent in terms of the time you take per turn. So it helps to use a clock with a pause button to pause the timer when you take breaks between each move to refresh your perspective.

If you can’t pause the clock, you could set it to a higher limit to give yourself enough time to think between each turn.

In Conclusion

Playing chess by yourself may be difficult, but it’s the best way to improve your skills dramatically. The most important thing to get the most out of playing chess with yourself is to be 100% unbiased and play on each side to win.

Otherwise, you’ll just be playing out the best-case scenarios for every strategy, and that won’t help you much if you’re looking to grow your skills and become a better chess player.

If you haven’t played chess with yourself before, now’s the time to start.