Learning how to get better at chess will drastically shortcut your climb up the Elo ladder. Playing chess against yourself makes good practice as you are playing as both white and black in one game.
“You are your own teacher. Looking for teachers can’t solve your own doubts. Investigate yourself to find the truth – inside, not outside. Knowing yourself is most important.” – Ajahn Chah
Adding to the famous quote above, finding your strengths and weaknesses and working upon them is a great way to know yourself better and improve in life.
But does this philosophy hold true in Chess as well? The answer is surely yes! Practicing against yourself is an amazing way to improve the quality of your game. Many top players strongly advocate this method and practice it too!
But why is playing Chess against yourself a good idea? And in what ways does it benefit you?
Read this article to find out.
8 Benefits of Playing Chess Against Yourself
Let’s have a look at the advantages of inculcating this habit in your routine.
1. Finding your weaknesses and improving upon them
When you practice playing against yourself, you observe certain shortcomings in your game that you might have overlooked previously.
The primary reason for this is that you know what your opponent is thinking at all times. You try to play the best moves possible and eventually reach a point where you realize that a particular position is favorable from one side but not from the other.
This will further lead you to find solutions to the not-so-good positions that you faced in the game which will help you tremendously in tournaments.
2. Identifying your strengths and growing them further
When you play the absolute best moves in such me vs me games, you are able to spot positions or structures where you feel particularly confident.
Analyzing such positions further and finding ways to get them in your game will greatly increase your winning percentage. After all, Chess is not just about improving upon your mistakes; it is also about fortifying your strengths!
3. You can continue your practice even without a training partner or computer
In this day and age, internet connection is available almost everywhere. But a true chess enthusiast would let nothing come in the way. Playing against yourself is a great way to keep your practice going even when a computer isn’t available due to lack of an internet connection.
Similarly, you would not have to wait to find a good training partner either. All you have to do is set up the chess board and start playing from both sides.
4. You gain experience in a particular position from both sides
It is always handy to know how to play a particular position from both sides. Why do you ask? Because when you do that, you can incorporate that opening in your repertoire from both colors.
We all know the power of having a strong and versatile opening repertoire. Imagine having knowledge of every possible move that your opponent can play in a particular position. Sounds good right? Playing chess against yourself can help you build exactly that!
5. You save a lot of time in actual games
When you practice a particular opening or position plenty of times, you are bound to gain a lot of experience in it. You start remembering all critical moves and junctures in that position. Something similar happens when you play Chess against yourself.
You get so knowledgeable and thorough with your openings that when it is time to actually play in a tournament, you find yourself blitzing out the moves! Not only does it save time on the clock, it is a great display of confidence too, which can intimidate your opponent!
6. Possibility of finding novelties
Analyzing a position by yourself multiple times makes you go beyond the regular chess engine evaluations and suggestions. You start thinking more creatively in a pursuit to find an even better move.
As you go deeper in your analysis, it just so happens that you find an interesting novelty that the engine does not suggest. It doesn’t always have to be a brilliancy – even a move that is different from the normal one can be worth looking into. And who knows? If the novelty turns out to be really good, maybe the next variation in that opening will be named after you.
7. Inculcates the habit of thinking even if it is your opponent’s move
When you have practiced playing from both sides for so long, your mind is bound to do the same in an actual game too. The benefit of this is that you anticipate most of your opponent’s best moves and find a solution to them beforehand.
One of the best habits for chess players is thinking even when it is your opponent’s move. This is super useful as it saves your time on the clock as you essentially use your opponent’s time in this scenario. Plus, you end up playing fast which may put psychological pressure on your opponent.
8. Coming up with good, human-like defensive moves instead of relying solely on engine analysis
One must remember that at the end of the day, when you are going to play a game in a tournament, you will face another human being and not a chess engine. Hence, many defensive moves that the engine suggests may not even be considered by your opponent.
Playing chess against yourself makes you go beyond the engine analysis and pushes you to find defensive moves that will come more naturally to a human. By doing so, you prepare not just theoretically according to the computer evaluation, but you also add a much-needed human touch which makes your preparation even stronger.
By now you must have realized that playing chess against yourself has many benefits. Time, place and resources become immaterial when you learn to enjoy playing Chess thoroughly.
However, you must remember that in order to level up, you must do additional work such as solving puzzles, analyzing games, working on your endgames etc. Simply relying on the practice of playing against yourself will not make you a well-rounded player.
That being said, you must definitely adopt this practice in your day to day routine as the advantages of it are plenty.