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The Chess Set You Use May Affect Your Game

Updated on September 25, 2019
Delores Keeper profile image

Delores Keeper has been playing chess for over 50 years. In that time she has learned a lot of real-life lessons from the game.

Chess can be a very intense game. Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned player, there is an enormous amount of pressure when you are passionate about the game. So, if you want to play your best, and of course win some games, you will need to use every advantage you can. One often overlooked area that can give you an edge (or hurt you) is the chess set you play on. In this article I will cover three things about chess sets that may, or may not, affect your playing.

  • Playing with your own chess set can put you at ease during tournament play.
  • Only Playing against a computer can hurt you when you find yourself playing against a human being
  • Playing with an expensive chess set can give you an advantage against your opponent.

Playing with a chess set that you own can make you more relaxed

In any competition, whether you are riding a bicycle or shooting at a target, you will always feel more comfortable using equipment that you own. The same is true in a chess tournament. If you can use your own chess set you will feel more at ease than you would if you were using one that is unfamiliar to you. Using a more familiar set can potentially give you an advantage over your opponent.

Honing Your Skills on a Computer

There are many websites and game downloads for chess, so many people use this medium to learn new skills. However, playing against a computer is different from having a human opponent.

Many people can learn to play chess by downloading an app or playing online. Whether this helps or hurts depends entirely on the person. People can learn new skills and get the basics of the game when playing on a computer. However, when playing against a human opponent there is a basic difference that could trip you up. One is that most people have a 'tell', like when you see a move that will be advantageous to you if your opponent doesn’t spot the trap. There is a tendency for the eyes to trace the move you want to make and the one you hope your opponent will make (or the one you hope they don’t make). A computer cannot see this, so it won’t be able to react to your body language. A human opponent, on the other hand, can notice what you are looking at and this can destroy the chances of a move that is beneficial to you.

Another thing to consider is that the transition from a vertical, 2D board as seen on a computer, to a 3-dimensional, horizontal board can make you uncomfortable in your play. We all develop habits with the chess set we play with most often. The earliest pattern, and the one that is least noticed, is that we get used to instantly recognizing the pieces that are familiar to us. The transition from one style of chess set to another is enough to give us a small discomfort (an extra nanosecond of thought to identify the piece, not much, but there); the transition from 2-dimensions to 3-dimensions makes it more noticeable.

An Expensive Chess Set Can Give You Confidence and Intimidate Your Opponent

Every person, no matter where they come from, is impressed by high quality, expensive items. When it comes to playing chess, bringing out a more high-end set will not only impress your opponent, but it may also be intimidating. Bringing out the more expensive set shows your opponent that you are passionate about the game. Additionally, your opponent may believe that you must be a very good player to have invested so much money on a chess set. Thoughts like that could keep your opponent's focus off the game more than if you were to bring out a more standard chess set.

The pride that you will feel when showing the set to your opponent may also translate itself to your game. Having the best equipment always gives you a sense of pride which translates to confidence in your performance. Knowing you are the better player will make you play better and see the game more clearly; knowing that you have an awesome chess set also gives you that push toward the ‘zone’ that leads to better play.

There are many other points concerning chess sets and how computer play affects your game. I have covered a few here that I hope will be helpful.


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