What is the function of a chess second? Easily Explained

A chess second’s obligation includes bringing personal expertise to train a player such as an opening that an elite may not be knowledgeable of. They are also responsible for analyzing lines, finding resources for those lines, and predicting the openings of the opponent.

Chess seconds are a group of people behind every strong player’s masterpiece, a hand beyond the board.

They have essential duties and obligations necessary to determine a player’s success, and that’s what we’re talking about today. Specifically what roles do they perform that help chess elites so much?

It’s time to recognize these individuals that makes supergrandmasters great! The responsibilities of a chess second is such a great topic to explore.

Chess seconds are a necessary force behind truly successful super grandmasters, basically a supporting team. Here are all the responsibilities a chess second is expected to fulfill:

1.) Helps in training the player

Professional players have very strict and organized training regimens to fully polish their craft, and chess seconds are the facilitators to such.

They identify the lapses within a player’s repertoire and develop action to fill such gaps.

This provides a more objective view of the big picture rather than just the player working on their own weaknesses.

Plus there’s usually a whole team working on this, more brains are most of the time better than one.

2.) Cooperate expertise

With the advent of progress in theoretical analysis, there are so many openings to be mastered that there’s no way to get all of them.

A very established player usually has one to two signature expertise in the opening, something that they can lay on the table.

This broad array of mastery can benefit the player in the long run, since the insights will be really valuable.

The team will be able to produce a higher quality and deeper opening preparation with the help of the second’s skills.

3.) Bring ideas

Creativity is a product of timing and brilliant thinking but also cooperation, more people will likely bring innovations.

Having a group of people can give the benefit of multiple perspectives where ideas can be discussed and argued.

This will lead to more opportunities to create a wider and deeper repertoire, probably converting some games.

The expertise also helps with this one, since a renowned master will present more concepts that may not have brought up otherwise.

4.) Share experience

Whether it’s an experience from playing a particular tournament, player, or time control, the second can express advice to the player.

Even the elite class of the chess world has certain limitations from experience, especially the young ones.

The group of people can serve as guidance that would provide the intricacies of the playing environment, a valuable resource.

This could seep into over the board match winning or drawing games that would have been lost otherwise.

5.) Create a list of openings to look into

A player especially when faced with a challenging match does not go for an opening randomly, everything is planned.

Chess seconds are tasked to create a list of openings that could possibly be used, formed from their own knowledge.

Of course in the end player will have the final say, a chess second will only assist the creation of such decision.

But the variety of insights would definitely sort and make things systematic leading to faster preparations

6.) Polish opening preparation

Probably one of the biggest job of a chess second, finding, recording, and identifying solutions from the player’s openings.

Especially in very important games, the opening is vital to acquire advantages that could lead to opportunities.

Only having one person no matter the skill to work with will definitely be daunting; forming the opening to perfection takes effort.

Several people with different backgrounds can help speed things at a more efficient rate, also likely to produce the results.

See how much money a grandmaster makes in this article.

7.) Look into opponent’s game

The player would most likely be occupied for training and conditioning more than looking at opponent’s games (though it is still important).

The chess seconds will provide the extra legwork of verifying the opposition’s style, signature, and weaknesses, hoping to get some initiative.

It could be from very early tournaments, another important match, or more recent activities, any that may lead to something.

The seconds will then create a report that summarizes the outcome of the study in detail, giving the player extra time to do other things.

8.) Predict opponent’s opening

A pretty big one and also why the seconds usually remain anonymous, because the opening can be predicted!

Having a group of seconds specializing in a particular line will provide all the red flags in the world, generally something to avoid.

Indicators like this (there are others) hold the key for preparing for what’s to come, a definite advantage.

Forecasting openings is a part of the second’s responsibility they delve into signals like this to have something they can report with.

9.) Find resources for the openings

After the chosen opening it just doesn’t stop there, you still need to find mediums to improve the thing as much as possible.

Whether it’s chess engines, personal expertise, previous games, or theoretical books, any source of information can be useful.

The seconds then will be tasked to review and organize the important details, making sure nothing irrelevant will be discussed.

Scouring through wide spectrum of channels can be time-consuming and even not that useful, but seconds will do just that.

10.) Give confidence

Elite or not, every individual still feels some pressure from having to perform in an important match, chess seconds can boost the morale of the player.

The experience, expertise, and guidance will help walk a player to success against pressures and expectations.

The sense of preparedness that they bring invisible to the board will rub to the player, making them gain a degree of self-esteem.

This is a benefit that will transcend logical management, confidence can really win in clutch moments.

11.) Provide emotional support

The player missing a win, losing a drawn position, or anything similar will cause emotional breakdowns that affect future games.

Expecting the player to recover immediately can be tempting but hard to do, chess seconds also help with that process.

They walk the walk, being part of the journey even when times get rough.

This is truly an important relationship that allows concentration on things that could actually be taken care of.

12.) Sense of professionality

Discipline, the ability to keep things organized which accomplishes tasks as efficient as possible.

A group of chess seconds provides an environment that reflects professionalism, telling to “work” when work needs to get done.

It’s almost impossible to slack off when a band of seconds constantly barrage you with opening lines, you feel entitled to oblige.

A “work ethic” is created as soon as the group is formed, telling everybody to earn their keep in order to be respected—including the player.

13.) Record unexpected lines

A chess game rarely always goes according to plan, variations will have surprises all over the place.

An elite player will have the capability to memorize some of these lines, yet the depth of this can be questionable.

This is why the seconds will have an ongoing duty to spot and record unexpected lines so it can later be analyzed.

It will ensure that everything important idea gets written down and remembered, forgetting something is a risk most players don’t want to have.

14.) Review lines 

After everything is said and done (the game is finished) the role of a chess second is just getting started, reviewing lines naturally comes into play.

The player is likely to be exhausted after a fierce battle, the seconds will likely do the majority of rehashing the played line.

This gives the player time to relax and condition well for the next game while still waiting for some kind of a report.

The seconds who will do some initial impressions that will of course be improved as days go by.


Chess seconds have a huge duty almost the same as the player, working towards success in a particular match.

These are the unsung heroes of the battlefield; the responsibility is a lot of serious work and dedication.

Being able to even qualify as one is already an achievement, a very good thing to be proud of.

Have you enjoyed this? Sleep well and play chess.