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Playing Chess By (And Against) Yourself – Solo Chess, Benefits,…

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

In order to play chess, you need an opponent to play against for the game to be challenging and fun, right? Wrong! Believe it or not, only one person can play the game. Right now, you may be wondering, ‘can you play an entire game of chess by yourself?’

It is entirely possible to play chess by (and against) yourself. In fact, you can play an entire game alone by controlling the movement on both sides of the board. Solo chess play is not only fun but also a great way to improve your cognitive skills while increasing your creative thinking ability. 

Now that you know you can play chess by yourself, let’s look at this idea in more detail below. We will discuss how to play chess alone, why it is good to practice by yourself, and how it benefits you cognitively and creatively.

So, if you’re ready to learn all you need to know about playing chess by yourself, then let’s get started!

Chess: Is it Really Possible to Play by (and Against) Yourself?

It is absolutely possible to play chess by yourself. In fact, there are many games that are traditionally considered two-player types that can be modified for a single person, as long as the individual assumes the position of both competitors. Any turn-based game, such as chess, can be played in this manner.

The only real challenge is figuring out how not to favor one side over the other! If you can manage to keep an unbiased mindset throughout the game, you can succeed in playing a solo chess match. This, by no means, guarantees each game will end in a draw. After all, being human, you are bound to make a mistake somewhere during the competition, thus giving your ‘opponent’ an edge.

In fact, this means you may make an error while playing white, for example, which you can capitalize on when making your next move for black. And, since there is no way of knowing if (and/or when) you will make a mistake in the opposite direction, you’ll find yourself winning (or losing), depending on how you look at it.

How Do You Play Chess by Yourself? (Solo Chess)

Although chess is considered a two-player game, you can play it by yourself as well. The steps involved include the following:

Step 1: Set Up the Game (Board and Pieces)

Begin by getting the chessboard out and ready. Set up your pieces by placing them in their correct starting positions.

Since the game is likely to take some time (as it is a slow-moving battle of wits against yourself), be sure to place the board in a convenient spot that won’t disturb others. Be prepared for the game to last days, even weeks, depending on how ‘good’ you are!

Step 2: Get a Coin

As the game could take a long time, you may find it hard to keep track of whose turn it is (wink, wink). A token, such as a coin, will help you determine who goes next. Move the token from side to side throughout the game to highlight whose turn it is. 

Or, simply turn the entire board around after each move so that you are looking at it from the perspective of whoever’s turn is next, whether it be white or black. 

Step 3: Make Your First Moves 

Remember, white always goes first, so make your initial move accordingly. Avoid mirroring moves, if possible. 

Step 4: Play the Game

A solo chess match is a logical game you play against yourself, so take your time when you play, even though you already know each move you’re planning to make. Ask yourself several questions based on your ‘opponent’s’ apparent strategy, assess the situation, and then formulate a counterattack. 

Remember to look for moves that will leave your ‘opponent’s’ king vulnerable or lead to the capture of one of their pieces. Also, determine if your next move will threaten any of your pieces or likely lead to their capture. And don’t forget to double-check your evaluation before you complete your turn.

Step 5: Take Your Time

After you’ve played your turn, take time to contemplate your ‘opponent’s’ next move by stepping away from the board, if possible. This not only gives you time to think but prevents you from strategizing too far ahead. 

Do this between the opening, middle, and end game portions, at least, if you’re immersed and can’t bring yourself to walk away after each turn.

Step 6: Continue Playing

Return to the board and continue with the middle game, which is the part in which you strategically attack the ‘opponent’. Be as patient and calm as possible during this portion of the game. If your ‘opponent’ fails to protect a piece, look for ways to capture it. 

Make sure you’re not falling into a trap, and watch carefully for how the upcoming move could impact your pieces or affect the safety of your king.

This is a section of the game where pieces will be exchanged, so cede them wisely. While some swaps will be necessary, others may be detrimental, so be sure to consider whether the pieces you are capturing are as valuable, as well as the ones you are sacrificing. 

Remember that your main goal is to checkmate your ‘opponent’ first, so be sure to manipulate pieces in such a way that they threaten the safety of the other player’s king.

And there you have it. A solo chess match completed. Needless to say, it isn’t easy to play chess by yourself, but it is possible…and definitely rewarding!

Why Play Chess by Yourself? (Benefits)

There are several reasons why you should play chess by yourself, whether you are just learning the game or consider yourself to be a master at it. These include the following:

  • It allows you to try out new moves and strategies before using them in an actual one-on-one game. This improves your decision-making and critical thinking skills as well as your cognitive development.
  • It encourages you to ‘think outside the box’ by engaging in an unconventional form of chess play. You need to come up with ways to beat your ‘opponent’, in this case, yourself, which can be a challenge when you know what moves lie ahead.
  • It allows you to play chess without relying on someone else. You still get the benefits and enjoyment that come with the game but on your own time, when it’s convenient for you.
  • It encourages creative thinking by expanding your mind. Solo chess play puts you in a battle against yourself, and you must come up with new and inventive ways to win.
  • It improves your memory, keeps you sharp, and enhances your ability to recognize patterns, all at your convenience and in the comfort of your own home, as opposed to a stressful competitive environment.

In Short

It is quite possible to play chess by (or against) yourself. You can play an entire game alone by slowly controlling the movement of both sides, one at a time, just like a real game. While it isn’t easy to play chess by yourself, it is possible…and very gratifying!

So, get out that chessboard and challenge your greatest opponent – yourself! Good luck!

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.