The Attraction of Chess

What is it about the complex game of chess that has people in their millions totally hooked on the game? What is the attraction to this game and why do so many people play it with such enthusiasm? It surely isn't its fun element, because chess is a really serious game!

This article attempts to look inside the head of the chess player (me!) to find out why it can be such an addictive game and what the attraction really is. This is not a "how to play chess" kind of article by the way, just a more light hearted look at the game and the people that love to play it.

Starting Young

chessI was personally introduced to chess at a fairly young age by my father who was actually a very good player. As my dad worked nights or very early mornings back in those days, we'd spend many afternoons after I got home from school playing chess.

My dad always won. I mean always! He never let me have an easy time and it was as frustrating as it sounds. In many respects, despite what the politically correct person might think about that today, my father was absolutely right to make it tough for me. It taught me many valuable life lessons.

Life Lessons

Firstly, it taught me to never give up. I have gone through life being highly tenacious in any venture I got involved with. I just keep going at a problem until I eventually succeed - no exceptions! Playing chess with my father made me work hard to try and win, even though I never did.

I got better and better at the game and whenever I played any of my friends, I always won. Why? Not necessarily because I was any better at the game than they were.

But I had fire in my belly to win and the determination and tenacity to see it through. Also it was to prove to myself and indirectly to my father that I could win and one day I was going to beat him!


As I got older into my teens, I played fewer games with my dad, but still had time to play chess with friends. I left school, got a great job in IT and found some very tough players in my new work colleagues. I didn't win all the time and that made me redouble my efforts to get better.

A few more years went by; I dated some girls, eventually met a great one, married her and settled down in our own house. I was in my mid twenties by this time and one day my father called in and we sat down to play a game of chess. It was the first time in a number of years.

I won!

It was the first time I had ever beaten him at chess and I sat back in a state of awe. Dad was more realistic about it. He wasn't too surprised I'd won because he admitted that the last few games we'd played had been the toughest ever for him and he knew it was only a matter of time before I got the better of him.

The Mentality of a Chess Player

Now I can't really comment on what goes on inside anyone else's head. I can only tell you what goes on inside my own head when I'm playing chess, or thinking about a game, which does happen, believe me!

I start playing and my mind is working out the moves in advance, just like every good chess player does. I weigh up the probabilities of my opponent making certain moves in response to my own and formulate a strategy based on those probabilities.

That's what is going on inside the technical side of my brain while I'm playing a game. But there is also an emotive side that comes into play here. It's a driving compulsion to be better than my opponent and to win. It's also an attractive force that makes me want to keep playing and then play some more.

Why I Stuck it Out

I think it has a lot to do with my early experience where I simply couldn't win but desired with all of my heart to do so. Instead of giving up and going outside to kick a ball around, which I'm sure plenty of kids would have done in that situation, I kept fighting even though the outcome was almost certain.

It was that "almost" aspect of it that had me staying for more mental punishment in losing yet another game. I knew there was a very slim chance I might win. If I didn't win this game, then there was still that very slim chance I might win the next. Or the next.

It was a long time coming, but I did win one of hose "next" games. Funny thing, bur once I had won that first game, I went on to beat my dad at chess in almost every subsequent game. Not all of them (he was still a darn good player), but most of them.

So there you have it. This is the reason why I'm so attracted to the game of chess and why I enjoy playing this very serious game so much. What's your story?