Handling Defeat in Chess


If you’ve ever played chess, you have probably heard some variation of “you are never losing when you’re learning”. It’s true that we learn a lot through defeat, but it takes some practice to get past the frustrated feelings of losing a game.

Chess is a game full of emotions. We try our best to play well and win, but games don’t always go according to plan. Everyone is going to feel frustrated at some point, but it’s important to get back on your feet and play the next game.

So what should we do when we lose?

Here are some tips to deal with frustration the next time you lose in chess.


Be a good sportsman

No matter what the games outcome is, you always need to respect your opponent. Shake hands at the end, and congratulate them for a good game.


Analyze your game

Looking back at your game has a lot of benefits, and you can learn a lot but looking at things from a different point of view – being an outsider to your own game. Think through any difficult moments, other options you were thinking about playing, and what made you decide to make a certain decision, etc. Be sure to do this shortly after your game so you remember all the details.


Check your openings

It is often easier to understand opening mistakes than middle or endgame errors. It’s also good to understand your opponents opening – maybe they played a line that’s new to you, and you can learn a thing or two about what they did, their mindset, and how you could try something similar in your next game.

Bottom line – figure out why you lost, and try not to make the same mistake next game.


Disconnect from the game and move on

Try to relax and engage in activities that help take your mind off the game - whether it be taking a walk, hanging out with friends, spending time focusing on things that are going well for you, or doing something creative. Use this time to clear your head, and get ready to concentrate and come up with a plan of attack for your next game.


Learn to enjoy the game no matter what

Accept that losing is part of the game. Even the best players in the world don’t win every time. Push yourself to remember that chess is just a game and meant to be enjoyed. No matter what, don’t lose your confidence - one loss does not take away from what a great player you are!