Good chess quotes are easy to come by. But, we’ve tried to narrow it down even further by just including the best of the best.
People are introduced to chess in a variety of ways. Perhaps a family member is looking for a game. Or, one of your friends plays. Recently, many folks are taking an interest in chess because of a popular Netflix series.
The Queen’s Gambit tells the story of an orphan girl who becomes a chess prodigy. During the cold war era, the seven-part series features plenty of chess competition and seems to have renewed interest in the game.
Since chess is such a strategic game, some of the insights from chess masters provide a great perspective on chess, business, and life. We hope you enjoy these quotation selections.
Great Chess Quotes
Some of the best chess quotes speak to playing the game and moments in life.
1.) “Daring ideas are like chess men moved forward. They may be beaten, but they may start a winning game.”
When Johann Wolfgang von Goethe wrote this, it seems he was speaking to the idea of being aggressive and taking chances. Seldom does one win by staying in place or retreating. You have to be daring to win the game.
2.) “The winner is the one who makes the next-to-last mistake.”
Savielly Tartakower, of Russian descent, was an International Grandmaster and a chess journalist during the 1920s and 1930s. He realized that in chess, mistakes lead to victory. His famous quotes on the topic include, “The mistakes are there, waiting to be made,” and “Chess is a fairy tale of 1,001 blunders.” And, one more, “Chess is a struggle against one’s own errors.”
3.) “To avoid losing a piece, many a person has lost the game.”
This is another Tartakower quote in which he cautions players to look at the big picture. Tartakower had a way with words, as evidenced by this famous chess quote, “An isolated pawn spreads gloom all over the chessboard.” Here’s another good one, “The move is there, but you must see it.”
4.) “In life, as in chess, forethought wins.”
Buxton’s message: To win at chess and any major endeavor, it helps to plan. Buxton was also quoted as saying, “In life, as in chess, one’s own pawns block one’s way. A man’s very wealth, ease, leisure, children, books, which should help him to win, more often checkmate him.” I wonder if the last quotation resulted in some difficult conversations at the dinner table.
5.) “Not all artists are chess players, but all chess players are artists.”
Chess players see the board in various ways, much like an artist paints a subject. While chess has a competitive sport aspect and a pure science component, it is also artistry. Just like a good book or movie can bring back memories, a well-played chess move can prompt one to recall one’s own experiences or memories playing. So, the originator of this quote, Marcel Duchamp, got it right. Duchamp was a French-American painter, chess player, and writer.
6.) “Play the opening like a book, the middle game like a magician, and the endgame like a machine.”
If you’re new to chess, the game is typically broken down into three phases: The opening, e.g., The Queen’s Gambit, the middle game, and the end game. The opening shifts to the middle game when players begin attacking each other’s pieces. The end game commences when most of the pieces are off the board. Rudolf Spielmann, who wrote this line, was a lawyer but never worked as one. He was a chess player who won 33 tournaments of the 120 that he played.
Best Chess Sayings
Here is some food for thought before your next game.
7.) “When you see a good move, look for a better one.”
There are more possible ways for a chess game to play out than atoms in the observable universe. Wow! Think about that. As such, a chess player is faced with many choices. You might have what you think is a powerful move. But still, there may be one or several moves that are even better.
Emanuel Lasker was a German chess player who held the World Chess Champion title for 27 years. Lasker played contract bridge, Go, and his own game, “Lasca,” a variation of checkers.
8.) “The most powerful weapon in chess is to have the next move.”
A big advantage can be gained with one move, and as such, the player with the next move is frequently in a position to advance.
David Bronstein was a Soviet chess player who passed away in 2006. His book on chess, Zurich International Chess Tournament 1953, is one of the best chess books.
9.) “An hour’s history of two minds is well told in a game of chess.”
A chess prodigy, Jose Raul Capablanca, was the world chess champion from 1921 to 1927. Born in Havana, Cuba, he beat the Cuban champion two days before he became a teenager. As you might describe chess as the ultimate thinking game, one’s mind is definitely on display in a game.
10.) “Chess is a war over the board. The object is to crush the opponent’s mind.
Many regarded Bobby Fischer as the best chess player of all time (although Magnus Carlsen fans may disagree). Born in Chicago in 1943, he passed away in 2008 in Iceland. Of Fischer, Miguel Najdorf said, “Bobby just drops the pieces, and they fall on the right squares.” Fischer thrived on the competition once, saying, “I like the moment when I break a man’s ego.”
11.) “Every chess master was once a beginner.”
Irving Chernev said this about chess, but it fits in just about any other area of interest. Everyone was a beginner at one time. You have to make mistakes, learn from mistakes, and practice to advance. Chernev was a national master-strength player and wrote 20 books on chess.
The Shortest Game Magnus Carlsen Played Video
Short Chess Quotes
13.) “Pawns are born free, yet they are everywhere in chains.”
14.) “Those who say they understand chess understand nothing.”
15.) “In chess, as it is played by the masters, chance is practically eliminated.”
16.) “I have always a slight feeling of pity for the man who has no knowledge of chess.”
17.) “When the chess game is over, the pawn and the king go back to the same box.”
We hope you enjoyed these insights on the game of chess. It’s your move.
By Mike O’Halloran
Mike is the founder and editor of Sports Feel Good Stories. He learned to play chess at a young age. When a friend of his older sister, a Belgium foreign exchange student, visited his house, he chose to play Mike with his back to the board. Mike lost.
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