Like most popular subjects, there are things that are believed by the public that simply aren’t true, also known as myths. Chess is no different. Here are 20 myths about Chess (with the truth) most people still believe.
1) Chess is Boring, Bland and Unappealing
Myth: Chess is Boring, Bland, and Unappealing
Reality: The game of chess is considered to be romantic but challenging.
In an interview in Washington Post, Jennifer Shahade said that chess is romantic. This is due to the fact that players are required to think strategically in order to win. Such considerations can lead to deep thought and reflection about the game. If you love when your mind struggles to solve a puzzle, then chess is for you. The game’s strategy has been around for centuries, so it’s also one that will continue. Chess is not just fun and satisfying; it can provide mental benefits too! Chess is a battle of wits on a whole new level. Refining a mind is exceptionally intense. It’s the most brilliant move to get your opponent’s clothes off. During the Victorian Era, romantic chess was the most popular chess style. During this time, chess games focused more on short, tactical moves rather than long-term strategic planning.
2) The King Is The Most Crucial Piece
Myth: In Chess, the King is the most crucial piece.
Truth: The pawn is the most essential piece in Chess.
The pawn is under appreciated by casual chess players. In a chess game, the pawns are sometimes seen as the weakest pieces. These elements are considered expendable, powerless, and intended to be trodden upon by higher-ranking Chess pieces.
You may be shocked to learn that pawns can be some of the most damaging components in a Chess game pawns can be promoted: In a serious game of Chess, pawns that clear the board and reach the other side may be promoted to any piece of their color – except for the King – except in a major chess match. If you have enough pawns on the board, your pawn might transform into a Rook, Bishop, Knight, or Queen.
You may reclaim every Chess piece that has been taken from you and gain a strategic advantage over your opponent if you have many pawns on the board. An extra queen is included in most chess sets if you promote a pawn while still having your queen active! It happens seldom, but you could have two queens on the board at the same time! Now that’s a match to remember.
3) In 1997, Deep Blue’s Victory Signified The End of Chess
Myth: In 1997, Deep Blue’s victory signified the end of chess.
Truth: Chess is constantly evolving, and computers are still learning and teaching themselves new moves over time.
Despite the fact that the finest computers can currently gracefully play chess better than 99.99% of people, they are equally matched in games against the world’s best humans. As some experts believe, humans will be unable to compete with the top machines if computer performance improves by 20-30 points each year.
Unfortunately, this goal is still out of reach at the moment. It’s worth noting that computers are frequently trained by human experts who instruct them in psychological disciplines such as learning material. Their excellence would be lost if this benefit was eliminated.
4) Grandmasters Calculate More Moves Ahead of Their Opponenets
Myth: Grandmasters are capable of considering several moves ahead and were able to think x+1 steps against their opponent.
Truth: Pattern recognition and intuition are employed by strong players.
There are many misconceptions about chess, including the idea that players of high caliber can think more than one move ahead. Intuition and pattern recognition are both used to win at chess, not deep brute force searches. Grandmasters do not have the ability to see so many moves ahead because there are so many possible positions on the board. They navigate the game by intuition and pattern.
5) Chess ability is said to be equivalent to IQ
MYTH: Chess ability is said to be equivalent to IQ.
TRUTH: For the most part, chess is a question of practice.
We have written multiple articles here on The Chess Journal about whether or not you need a high IQ to be good at Chess. Although certain types of intellect may assist one in learning chess quicker and more thoroughly, chess is a talent that must be learned; natural capacity can’t compare to experience or adequate training.
One of the challenges that chess players have encountered is how family members assume their children are smart since they like to play chess; therefore, they should defeat their older cousin/uncle despite the teenage family member having been playing/studying for years. The reality is, even Grandmasters don’t need a high IQ to become one.
6) Chess Improves Children’s Cognitive Ability
Myth: Chess improves a child’s cognitive ability, such as intelligence quotient.
Truth: Chess develops pattern recognition, memory training, problem-solving, foresight, and logical thinking.
The world champion Anatoly Karpov has said that he rarely attempts to see farther than three moves ahead (6-ply) because it is often useless, emphasizing the importance of positional knowledge. Chess is not comparable to checkers or backgammon.
Chess is a game of intellect and expertise rather than simply raw intelligence because grandmasters are confident that many of my younger relatives have higher IQs. Still, the difference in knowledge and application can’t compare. The belief that chess is only about “seeing X number of moves ahead” is another misconception. It’s often far more helpful to understand what makes a move poor or good than calculation outside of short combinations, as it keeps your position safe.
7) Myth: Chess is a game for those who despise any physical exertion. It’s for people who hate hard work.
Truth: In a nutshell, Chess is a cerebral exercise that requires physical dexterity.
Mikhail Tal was dubbed a chess magician during his career, and his combinational talents in the middle game were considered exceptional. However, his reign as world champion was brief, and even though he won many additional events throughout his 56-year life span, the achievements were not consistent. He was excused because he had an illness, precisely a kidney problem that made him unable to handle the pressure of a long series of games.
The amount of physical strain incurred by top-level chess players became abundantly clear when Karpov lost 10kg after his matches with Kasparov in 1984-85. The number of computations for chess players to conduct in their mind and the intricacy of each move, Chess is not only a physical game but also an intellectual one. To improve chess players’ rating ranks, they must win many tournaments, which they can’t do unless they are physically fit and mentally alert.
8) Myth: Chess is a game for older men that are used to kill time.
Truth: It’s a game for young men against the clock.
There have been roughly 15 grandmasters who became masters before they were 15, with the youngest (Sergey Karjakin) achieving the title at the age of 12 years and seven months! Kasparov became World Champion when he was 22 years old. A serious chess player who participates in a tournament or a game won’t be able to manage anything if they’re not ready.
There is a misconception that it appeals to retirees who have no other reason to keep occupied. Concentration levels are high, and the use of a bit of time to consider each move will be compensated for later when players must hurry up. Even in a game that is timed traditionally, this may result in fast playing.
9) Myth: At the age of 50, chess players can’t expect to keep their ranks when there are so many brilliant young players around.
Truth: Chess expertise is independent of age.
At the age of 60, Victor Korchnoi was a World Championship contender (though he did not win it) and remains an active grandmaster in tournament circuits. Mikhail Botvinnik won numerous World Championships throughout his career, the last of which came against a player of the caliber of Mikhail Tal, who was just half his age.
10) A Robot Will Become The New World Champion
Myth: The next chess world champion will be a machine.
Truth: A draw between a super grandmaster and a super computer is possible. It’s evident that chess is still a mystery.
We have computer chess engines that can play better than the world’s greatest human players, but these engines make mistakes all the time. They don’t achieve near-perfection performance. We have no idea what perfect play looks like. After defeating the previous world champion, Gary Kasparov, in a six-game match (two wins, one loss, three draws), no computer had ever beaten a grandmaster.
With its reported capacity of 200 million positions per second, the victory might be regarded as a result of sheer power! Furthermore, experts believe that IBM attempted to win the bet unfairly to gain a lot of attention. IBM had access to all of Kasparov’s games, but when he requested Deep Blue’s records for prior matches, the company refused and declined. When Kasparov wanted to renew their rivalry, later on, IBM again ignored him. In conclusion, it is still a human vs. machine battle.
11) Myth: It takes 10,000 hours to become a Grandmaster in chess.
Truth: 10,000 hours is no assurance of excellence.
Anyone willing to put in the time and effort can achieve chess grand mastery is not valid. Chess ratings are distributed on a bell curve, with only about 2 percent progressing past 2200. For the most part, you’ll be able to find one or two exceptions, but for everyone else, this is just how it works.
A chess “veteran” who has played for 30 years is significantly less skilled than 20 years ago. It’s only because the more experienced player has an instinct about what to do in a specific position by looking at it. There’s almost no calculation involved. Best-selling authors such as Malcolm Gladwell, Daniel Pink, and Matthew Syed have utilized Ericsson’s findings to form the uplifting but taken out of context message that genius is primarily founded on hard work.
12) Myth: To compete at a high level, chess players must be exceptionally smart.
Truth: The false link between chess and intellect is one of the reasons that many players have such negative emotional responses to defeat.
In reality, chess is primarily a memorization-based board game. Intelligence has little bearing on it. Experts believe that intelligence may play a minor role at the highest levels, but otherwise, they don’t think it factors much in chess potential. There are too many other elements involved to predict someone’s chess potential based on intellect.
13) Myth: The memory of a chess player allows them to memorize a thousand matches.
Truth: The key to chess success is memory palace, repetition, and active recollection.
Vishy Anand would spend a few hours discussing the last options and lines, and they’d force him to go over his notes before leaving to return to work while he bathed and took a nap.
14) Myth: Chess can help you cure your addiction or any other bad habits.
Truth: Chess can become a dependency; it is a gradual, long-term addiction.
Many chess players, including Bobby Fischer, have been afflicted by addictive or compulsive behavior. Of course, as with alcohol or cocaine, it won’t ruin their lives in a few months. Many outstanding chess players, on the other hand, dedicated their entire existence to the game.
15) Myth: There are no emotional aspects to chess.
Truth: Chess allows you to experience everything on the chessboard, including anger, sadness, love, and triumph.
Many individuals believe that certain emotions can only be felt through physical activity (or even extreme danger), this is not true. Experts think they’ve never taken the game seriously. One of the most underappreciated aspects of chess is that you may feel every emotion on the chessboard. Despair, joy, frustration, triumph, anxiety, domination, sadness, euphoria (physical and mental), exhaustion (both physical and mental), and adrenaline rush are all examples.
16) Myth: The illegal move known as En passant is not acceptable.
Truth: The fact that En Passant is a move.
They say this in a chess game against a casual opponent, thinking they’re just coming up with a new regulation on the spot to give themselves an edge. The majority of novices are unaware that a white pawn on e5 can capture the black pawn when it advances two squares to d5 or f5, as in 4:e5 f5 5:exf6 ep.
17) People Will Stop Playing Chess Because Machines Surpass Humans
Myth: Chess is a game that computers play better than people. Because computers can defeat humans, competitive chess will die out.
Truth: Possibly in the future, albeit with a greater time and computational power expenditure. In competitions, we typically prioritize effort over the final result.
There are still weightlifting competitions, even though the problem of lifting weights has long been solved thanks to forklifts. Chess is thus close to being solved in real life: we now have chess-playing computers that regularly beat every human player.
Since 2005, humans have not been able to best the world’s top computers. Because chess is a solved game, a person can’t play it as a solved game. It may be solvable in principle, but the forced outcome (with flawless play from both sides) might very well result in a draw. A computer might be able to play it that way at some point, but such an approach eliminates the need for Stockfish vs AlphaZero competitions.
18) Myth: Women are unable to compete at the highest level of chess.
Truth: The Polgar sisters have done a lot to dispel the myth that women can’t play chess.
Women have yet to outperform men in chess competitions, with many possible causes. One reason might be those male chess players are often skilled at making female competitors uncomfortable at events. The Polgar sisters have done a lot to prove that women may play expertly. Perhaps one day, we will find out that women can perform better than males. Nobody knows for sure.
19) Myth: The most essential aspect of the game is the opening.
Truth: It is debatable. On a case-by-case basis, openings may vary.
This had happened to Carlsen in the extraordinary Carlsen vs. Duda encounter when his early mistake caused him to lose. At the beginner level, the opening is often the least significant aspect of the game. Most of the time, you can get away with simply following opening ideas such as don’t move a piece twice, don’t bring your queen out too soon, fight for the center, develop your details, castle early on.
At the highest level, the opening choice may be perhaps the most crucial aspect of the game. If you have done your research and know what to expect, you can entice your opponent into a tough-to-play line where you can play quickly, and he must find 4–5 moves in a row or else lose.
20) Chess is often under appreciated.
Myth: Chess is often under appreciated.
Truth: Even though chess is overrated, it still needs more promotion.
Chess, on the other hand, kept getting a bad reputation. It is referred to as “the intellect’s game,” even though its reputation was growing. Chess is a talent that requires practice, just like basketball or ping pong. Even while losing horribly to high school dropouts, some kids have beaten excellent mathematicians with PhDs. It was invented in the 16th century and several centuries later as an intellectual pastime. While many different games may be learned in a few months of practice, chess was considered to be beyond attainable even after years of play, which is essentially true today.
Chess is designed to help you enhance your numerical and logical reasoning abilities. It’s true, but It is not the most intellectual game anymore. Many video games now available to children are more complex than chess. Card games like bridge and poker need a great deal of mental ability – including accurately calculating probabilities based on the unknown cards, remembering different aspects of the game throughout time, and grasping fundamental principles behind the game – than chess does, and there are many more difficult games available these days.
That concludes this list of Chess myths. Do you know any myths about Chess that we didn’t list? Let us know and we’ll add it to the list.