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10+ Disadvantages / Drawbacks of Playing Chess (Time, Stress,…)

Last Updated on January 25, 2024 by Gamesver Team and JC Franco

Chess is not just a game, but a way of life for some people. Although there are numerous benefits and advantages to playing, there are also disadvantages and drawbacks to the game. Right now, you may be wondering, “what are the cons (if any) of playing chess?’

There are at least 10 ‘cons’ to playing chess. These disadvantages or drawbacks, however, should not overshadow the many ‘pros’ associated with the game.

Now that you know there are both pros and cons to playing chess, let’s look at a few of the disadvantages or drawbacks. We will provide you with a better understanding of the game and why some people lose interest or choose not to play it. 

So, if you’re ready to learn more about the pitfalls of chess, then let’s get to it!

1. Chess is a Difficult Game to Master

While the rules of chess are fairly straightforward, the strategy behind winning is highly complex. It takes high-level strategic thinking and years of practice to become good at the game. Chess masters spend decades learning tactical gameplay. Knowing the rules of chess and how to play is not enough to win. 

The amount of time it takes to become a chess master often turns people off! They just don’t want to dedicate hundreds of hours to get good at it when they can play other games (like checkers or connect 4) that are quicker and easier to learn.

2. Chess Takes a Long Time to Play

Chess isn’t a quick game that can be played in a matter of minutes. If you find a worthy opponent, a game can last hours or even days! One of the longest chess games ever played in a single sitting took 20 hours (and 269 moves) back in 1989 and ended in a draw. 

You must invest a lot of time, practice and money if you want to be good at chess. You must study theory, read books, research strategies, and memorize moves. This is no easy feat and takes decades of dedication to achieve true greatness.

3. Chess Can’t Be Played With Just Anyone

A satisfying chess game can’t be played with just your average Joe! Good chess ability is a learned skill, and finding worthy opponents to match your level of experience gets harder and harder, the better you become at it. 

Player skill takes time to develop and will not improve in just one to two games, so playing against a beginner will not challenge you in any way. And, since chess is usually only played by 2 people at any given time, you can’t use it as a fun, interactive activity on family game night! 

4. Not Everyone Knows the Rules of Chess

Chess is not like checkers. The rules are more complex and can be difficult (for some people) to learn. En-passant, fianchetto and castling, for example, are moves that are essential to the game but novice players often struggle with.  

5. Good Chess Sets Can Be Quite Expensive

While you can play chess using a plastic travel set, it will not be near as satisfying as the tactile feel of precisely hand-crafted pieces on a fine wood inlay board! These sets, however, are often costly and not that easy to cart around. 

6. To Master It, You Probably Need to Learn Chess at a Young Age

If you didn’t start playing chess as a child, you’d probably have a huge disadvantage over your opponents, who might have been playing since the age of 5!

It’s next to impossible to compete with a player that has years (or even decades) more experience than you do. And, getting beat by a 10-year old can be humiliating! 

7. Chess is an Unforgiving Game

Chess is not like other games. One mistake can cost you, big time! Like Johannes Zukertort (German-Polish chess master) once said, ‘chess is the struggle against the error.’ The better player always wins, which isn’t much fun if you’re not the better player! 

The ability to cope with randomness is difficult to be taught by playing chess. And, if you ‘give up,’ you can force a stalemate ending, which is unsatisfying, especially after hours of gameplay. 

Chess is ‘a war over the board’ (Bobby Fischer, American chess grandmaster), and it can be both long and boring at times.

8. Variants are Not Good Alternatives

Chess variants are often related to or derived from chess. Most variants are frowned upon by true chess players, as you lose a lot of playing ability when you change the board size, piece count, or piece position. 

Variants are okay for casual play. However, those who take the game seriously have little chance for advancement playing these alternatives. That’s too bad, as some of these variations can be quite fun and entertaining!

9. You Must Be Good at Analytical Thinking 

Chess requires high-level analytical thinking. You must be able to think logically and methodically in order to win. Left-brain thinkers are great at this, whereas right-brain thinkers (who are more creative and artistic) may find this difficult. 

You also need very good memory and pattern recognition skills to play chess. Otherwise, you will never advance in the game. If memorization and character arrangement aren’t your strong suits, you will be easily discouraged and find the game frustrating rather than fun.

10. You Can Get Lost in the Game

Chess is addictive. People who take the game seriously or play professionally, live their lives around it. Hours a day, for years on end, are dedicated to chess. This can take time away from other important things, such as spending quality time with family and friends. 

11. You Can Forget to Have Fun (Stress)

Chess players can often become so wrapped up in the competitive aspect of the game that they forget the main reason why people should play it in the first play – to have fun! 

Entertainment (rather than winning) is the true joy behind the game, and chess enthusiasts often lose sight of this fact.

All in all

There are both pros and cons to playing chess. While it is good to understand and recognize some of the disadvantages associated with the game, it is important to note that these drawbacks should not overshadow the many benefits and advantages associated with ‘the best game in the world.’ 

Just like Bill Hartston (English chess player and journalist) once said, ‘chess doesn’t drive people mad, it keeps mad people sane.‘ So don’t let the challenges or pitfalls of the game discourage you. Just bring out the board, set up the pawns, challenge a friend and play. Checkmate!

JC Franco

JC Franco serves as a New York-based editor for Gamesver. His interest for board games centers around chess, a pursuit he began in elementary school at the age of 9. Holding a Bachelor’s degree in Business from Mercyhurst University, JC brings a blend of business acumen and creative insight to his role. Beyond his editorial endeavors, he is a certified USPTA professional, imparting his knowledge in tennis to enthusiasts across the New York City Metropolitan area.