Chess is commonly regarded as one of the most popular games in the world, and it has been that way for many centuries. And yet, some people just can’t get a liking to it. Even worse, it isn’t uncommon for someone to blatantly hate the game and see it as a waste of time. Though this may seem extreme, there are some justifiable reasons for hating chess.
Chess is so old and well-known that there are very few new things to the game. A new player will immediately have to face challengers that know the game so well that even a tiny victory becomes insignificant. It’s almost impossible ever to be the best, discouraging players from even trying.
One of the main reasons for chess’ popularity is also its major downfall: how old and established the game is. Chess is often linked with intelligence and strategic thinking, so some people frown upon those who hate chess. But there are many clear and valid reasons why it may be considered a waste of time.
These are 15 reasons why chess is a waste of time:
1. There’s No Such Thing As Being “Good Enough At Chess”
People love games because of the challenge of becoming the best at something. Most people will never become “the world’s number one,” but it is possible and can be done.
When you begin learning to play chess, you soon realize that even the best players in the world, who have been playing since early childhood, are defeated by some AI system developed in the 1980s. This discourages new players and makes their efforts pointless.
2. Chess Is The Most Well-Studied Game
You may be the best player in your high school chess league, but you will eventually play against someone who will immediately notice that you’re playing “the Priest’s kneecap” and beat you in three moves. Every possible outcome of chess has been studied and practiced, and life-long students of the game will know exactly how to beat you no matter which moves you make.
3. Chess Is A Slow Game
Modern humans are living a more fast-paced life than ever before. In medieval times, military leaders had the time to spend hours poring over a chess board to decide which moves to make and sharpen their strategic thinking skills. Anyone who wants to survive in the modern world won’t have the time to sit and slowly make decisions in anything as unimportant as a game.
4. Chess Is Linked With Intelligence
Because being good at chess is perceived as intelligent, many young people try to play the game just to lose spectacularly within only a minute or two. This causes them (and often others) to regard themselves as less intelligent instead of seeing chess as a skill they can learn, leading to them giving up and hating chess forever.
5. Chess Is Boring
Modern games are packed with action and adrenaline, keeping players focused. Science has also proven that many modern video games are also beneficial to mental health. Compared to these games, chess is as dull as watching paint dry. Why waste time on such a tedious activity when you can get the same (or more) benefits from playing something that’s actually fun and stimulating?
6. Chess Is Not Just About Remembering The Rules Anymore
To be good at any game, you need to know the rules and how to use them to your advantage. Chess has rules, like the moves that pieces are allowed to make. But that is not enough anymore. To be any good today, you must also know and perhaps memorize many of the hundred million possible outcomes and how to beat each. There are much better ways to spend your time. Like actually living.
7. Chess Seems Unfair
In any sport (and chess is a sport, after all), it’s clear that a team with fewer players on the field will have a definite handicap. This is not the case with chess. In fact, some of the most successful plays involve drawing your competitor into a false sense of security by having them take out many of your primary pieces just to beat them unexpectedly with the few you have left. This seems unfair.
8. You Cannot Recover From One Bad Move In Chess
Most games and sports are forgiving because you can recover from a wrong move with some effort and skill and sometimes a bit of luck. Chess is not so forgiving, especially if you’re playing against an experienced player. One wrong move in chess will create just enough gap for your opponent to rush in and claim the victory.
9. Chess Requires Almost Full-Time Commitment
All sports require time and effort to become good at it, and chess is no exception. The difference is that physical sports and games have limits based on how far you can push the human body. Though the mind has similar limits, few people recognize this, and young players can spend hours upon hours each day trying to improve their performance, which could lead to burnout.
10. Chess Is Mental Torture
A study in Norway proved that inexperienced chess players (in other words, anyone other than professionals) experience a game of chess as mental torture. Competitive games negatively affected their heart rate variance, caused stress, and many students exhibited sleeping disorders around competitions. It is not always the relaxing and stimulating pastime that people think it is.
11. Chess’ Effects On Cognitive Ability Are Negligible
Chess doesn’t seem to be the miracle mental stimulant it’s supposed to be. A study found that, though chess supposedly improves cognitive ability, these improvements don’t translate into noticeably better test scores. On the other hand, various video games have been found to improve students’ test performance in a measurable and detectable way.
12. Chess Can Become An Obsession
A study of chess grandmasters over the centuries shows that many became so obsessed with the game that they played themselves to death, quite literally. Emmanuel Lasker was a genius who had the opportunity to work with Albert Einstein. Still, his obsession with chess held him back, and he ended up dying penniless with only a chessboard to his name.
13. There May Be Links Between Chess And Mental Illness
As in point twelve, a study of chess grandmasters will prove that many of them, including Paul Morphy and Wilhelm Steinitz, were diagnosed with severe psychological problems and institutionalized. Many other grandmasters who were not diagnosed also showed signs of mental illness in some areas of their lives. There may be a link, though it’s not confirmed.
14. Chess Isn’t Even Entertaining To Watch
Other sports and games are entertaining and can be understood even by people who don’t play the game. The most unathletic person on earth can sit and enjoy a football match on TV. To enjoy watching chess, you must understand the game and know the plays just as much as the players do, eliminating most of the world’s population.
15. It’s Difficult To Get Satisfaction From Chess
Much of the driving force for the things we do daily has to do with releasing the reward hormone dopamine. Sports and games all create a sense of accomplishment because our brains release this chemical. In chess, you will hardly ever get that since victories are so hard to come by, leading to lower satisfaction levels and more frustration.
It takes forever to master chess, and the real-life benefits are negligible. Consequently, the only people who truly stand to benefit from chess are those who play professionally or who play to relax. If a player can make a living from sponsorships and competitions, it’s worth spending all those hours practicing. Everyone else can spend their time better by doing things that will actually help them.