Top 10 Chess Quotes
Throughout time, a mountain of chess quotes have been collected. The greatest chess players, coaches and authors have shared their wisdom, leaving us with countless incredible chess quotes today. At iChess, we’ve compiled our favorite top 10 chess quotes of all time. Here’s the list – in no particular order:
“The beauty of chess is it can be whatever you want it to be. It transcends language, age, race, religion, politics, gender and socioeconomic background. Whatever your circumstances, anyone can enjoy a good fight to the death over the chess board.” – Simon Williams
This quotation describes chess as a bridge between people, used as a common ground – coming together to enjoy the same game. Whether you’re black or white, rich or poor, woman or man, chess can bring us all together. It can overcome our differences and for a certain period of time even make players forget about the world around them. Simon Williams has put it perfectly here.
“Chess, like love, like music, has the power to make men happy.” – Siegbert Tarrasch
Short, but it hits the nail on the head. As Siegbert Tarrasch puts it, for some people chess is life’s bliss. Chess is a beautiful game and can touch us on many levels, has the ability to astound us and give us moments of sheer joy.
“Play the opening like a book, the middlegame like a magician, and the endgame like a machine.” – Rudolph Spielmann
This chess quote reveals all the qualities you need to improve, at least in theory. Knowing all the relevant theoretical lines in the opening, developing sophisticated plans in the middlegame and showing no mercy in the endgame. Simple, right? You only need to put these three simple things into practice…
“I used to attack because it was the only thing I knew. Now I attack because I know it works best.” – Garry Kasparov
It is no coincidence that this quote comes from one of the greatest attacking players the chess world has ever seen – Garry Kasparov. Apart from his deep opening preparation, Kasparov was well known throughout his career for his aggressive playing style and his ability to calculate in complex positions. Whenever he reached a promising attacking position on the board, his rivals knew they would have a tough time. Kasparov realized one key aspect about attacking and defending: it is a lot easier to attack certain weak points in your enemy’s position, because you mostly focus on your own plans and ideas. If you face a difficult defensive task, you need to master two challenges. On the one hand, you always have to be alert to your opponent’s moves and the ideas behind them. On the other hand, you must figure out a defensive setup which withstands the opponent’s threats.
“Give me a difficult positional game, I will play it. But totally won positions, I cannot stand them.” – Hein Donner
Nothing is as difficult as converting winning positions. At first glance, this sounds strange, but many average club players fall for a series of psychological mistakes when handling winning positions. The main problem is that many chess players, once they reach a winning position, stop thinking about the game itself and focus on the result. They start considering the amount of ELO-points they’ll gain, their ranking in the tournament’s standings or how they’ll spend their free time when the game is over. Soon, they stop concentrating on the position. Hence, more often than not, they lose the thread and finally, let their opponent’s escape with a half or even a full point. That’s why it’s essential to stay focused until your opponent resigns or you checkmate them. In his excellent chess book “The Seven Deadly Chess Sins”, GM Jonathan Rowson provides you with some advice on how to deal with this issue. One of his suggestions is to always try to enjoy the process of winning the game and not to check the game off too early.
“Up to this point White has been following well-known analysis. But now he makes a fatal error: he begins to use his own head.” – Siegbert Tarrasch
This chess quote is quite funny and still very up-to-date. When preparing for a game, many chess players rely on computer evaluations, learn long and forcing lines by heart, but only have a superficial understanding of the position. As soon as the opponent plays an unexpected move, they have to rely on their own resources. It’s not a rare occurrence that their lack of knowledge comes to light and they start to play dubious moves.
“One bad move nullifies forty good ones.” – Bernhard Horwitz
Chess is a brutal game! If you make a mistake in tennis or the opponent team scores a goal in soccer, you can start all over again and the game continues. If you overlook a mate-in-one in chess, however, the game is immediately over, no matter whether you completely outplayed your opponent until that point and were close to ending the game yourself.
“Nobody ever won a chess game by resigning.” – Savielly Tartakower
Don’t immediately resign if you’re worse off! Try to figure out how bad your position really is and if there is the smallest chance for counterplay. If there is only the slightest hope that your opponent could go wrong, go for this variation. As we learned that there is nothing as difficult as winning won positions, it’s always a good idea to put up as much resistance as you can. Try to muddy the waters and don’t allow your opponent an easy path to victory. Make them work hard for the full point.
“If your opponent offers you a draw, try to work out why he thinks he’s worse off.” – Nigel Short
Another useful piece of advice by a strong grandmaster. Even if you’re opponent is a lot stronger in terms of ELO-rating, never accept a draw without making sure you didn’t miss anything. In most cases, stronger players don’t offer a draw without a reason. Always try to figure out what it could be that is making them worry!
“Hard work is a talent. The ability to keep trying when others quit is a talent.” – Garry Kasparov
This quotation sounds trivial, but the more you read it, the more you begin to understand its real depth. Today, many think that some people have got talent and everything comes easy for them while others have to work hard to achieve their goals. But talent alone is nothing without hard work. Even the ability to work hard is a talent. When we look up to successful people, we often think that they were born with a talent we don’t have and did well in their profession from their first day on the job. The truth, however, is that we almost always only see the final outcome. What we do not see is the toil behind their success. There is no World Chess Champion who did not struggle hard to make his name well known in the world of chess and to leave their rivals far behind. It has never changed. All the Super-GMs today exercise countless hours each day to stay on top.
We hope you enjoyed this collection of beautiful chess quotes and even gained new perspectives and views on the game we all love. It’s no secret that there are many more. So, what do you think? Any fabulous quotations that we have missed? Leave a comment and tell us about your favorite chess quotes!