If you want to improve you obviously need to play a lot of games in order to acquire experience, however, there are cases where playing too much can actually hurt your progress. This is something that a lot of people do not talk about.
There is such a thing as playing too much chess, something that you need to understand if you want to improve as fast as possible. I want you to learn that of course, since I have experienced the same thing.
Does playing too much chess really make you worse? As a chess player here is what I know:
Playing too much chess can make you worse overall since you are likely to never take breaks and formally study, your progress will be compromised if you rarely study. There will be a time where you need to stop playing and need to learn from others.
I don’t want you to drown in the pool of having to play more games and not really seeing growth, we all want to avoid that.
This article is about how playing too much chess can actually make you worse. I will explain all the details and some of my personal opinions on this one. Without further ado, let’s get started.
Playing too much chess can distract you from learning
If you play too many chess games there will be a tendency that you are not really studying the necessary information that you need to improve. Sometimes it is better to just study and not play at all.
This has happened to me a couple of while back, it is hard to be aware of the number of games we are playing when we enjoy every part of it. This might be good at first glance but this is detrimental long-term.
When we play too much it doesn’t necessarily mean that we learn every part of the way, there will be diminishing returns in the experience that we can gain. The longer we play without learning anything the minimal our improvement will be.
If I am bad at the endgame yet still never studied the endgame and just played, I will be losing most of my endgames and in the end, I didn’t really learn much.
Instead, it is best practice to take a break every now and then in order to have the time that can be used to study famous positions in the endgame.
After you are done studying, you can of course play some games in order to test the things that you have learned. This will be good for improvement in general, playing too much chess can be detrimental.
Playing too much chess don’t give you time to analyze
Playing a lot of chess will obviously make you a better player in general, it is just that when you don’t take the time to analyze your games and see where you are lacking, improvement is unlikely to come.
On this one I am particularly talking about using chess engines in order to realize where you have made a mistake, a lot of players do not do this.
Some players that get into the zone of playing chess don’t even take the time to analyze the entirety of their previous games, they are in a rush to see the next game. This is bad when it comes to improvement.
By not having a reflection of your previous games it is unlikely that the lessons you have learned will be retained, it will just be another game that doesn’t have any meaning.
When you play too much and don’t take the time to analyze, it is as if you are the same chess player since you haven’t really gotten any insight.
Learning to stop yourself when you are playing too much and taking the time to analyze is the key to avoiding this.
Playing too much chess can be mentally tiring
Playing too much chess can obviously be detrimental if it can cause you to be mentally drained, it will be significantly harder to play future games since you will associate chess with feelings of exhaustion.
This has happened to me as well, I have been playing too much chess that it makes me mentally tired for a week or so.
It has made me so disinterested to continue playing afterward since I associate the game with the feelings of exhaustion.
I don’t have to tell you why this is bad for improvement in general, if I continue not playing any games while being disinterested in a further study it will obviously hamper my growth. It will definitely affect my improvement.
If I had just taken a break for a few hours or maybe even a day and then come back, maybe I can continuously play while achieving more learning since I don’t take huge chunks of breaks.
If you are playing chess so much that it makes you not want to play as much, it will be hurtful for your progress since you will be participating less in the game long term.
Playing too much chess can make you depressed
One of the problems of playing too many chess games is there is a huge opportunity for your rating to get worse, if you still keep on playing while being depressed it might hold you back.
This is a problem that is encountered by a lot of chess players, when they are on a losing streak they keep on playing even though they are not in the right condition to revive their numbers.
This definitely falls in the spectrum of playing too much chess, when players are in a losing streak it is a best practice to take a break and rest rather than continue playing.
This is because it will create a negative feedback loop, that losing makes you depressed because your rating gets worse, and playing when you are depressed will probably make you lose more games.
This is detrimental in progress for two reasons, one is that you will be disinterested in chess since it is not enjoyable anymore given the fact that you are losing too much. Second is that you will treat chess as a numbers game.
That rating is all that matters and not some real improvement that you can get from studying, you are likely to just play instead of doing some work since you want to get the ratings as fast as possible. This is definitely bad for improvement.
Playing too much chess can make you quit the game
The biggest hit that playing too much chess can do to you is if it makes you so exhausted that you want to quit the game, you obviously cannot improve if you quit playing indefinitely.
I have talked about this above but I just can’t stress it enough, a lot of people fall back into using an engine in order to get instant gratification. Because they want to get the results fast.
I think this is also a result of playing too much instead of studying, this is because people who play too much chess are likely to be the people that care about the ratings the most.
People who study do not bother about how many ratings they have since they know that they have the capability to actually get it high, if you play too much chess you might not only want to use an engine but just quit altogether.
You are likely to think that chess is just this number game and mastering it is senseless, you will not improve if you quit. This is probably the worst impact that playing too much can give.
Playing too much chess can make you focus on one time control
The problem is not only playing too much chess, it is also playing too much of a specific time control. Focusing on one time control is generally not a good idea unless you have a strategic reason for it.
Now, this doesn’t apply to all chess players but there are some out there that only focus on faster time controls for example, this is definitely bad for progress.
Every individual time control is a different type of chess, they all have their intrinsic nature that deserves a slightly different approach. If you only focus on one time control you will not improve much in the other time formats.
This one though is quite understandable since I do this as well, I mostly play at faster time controls since I don’t have enough time to play longer time controls. This is expressed in my other article why is blitz chess so popular (will open in a new tab)
Some people do not have all the time in the world to play chess but still want to enjoy the game. This is okay but just take note that you will not improve as much in other tine controls
Playing too much chess can tamper with your momentum
There is such a thing as momentum, when you are losing consecutively there is a high chance that you will lose your future games.
It may be that you are not really getting worse by playing too much chess, it is just that you have a bad momentum at this particular time. This probably has a lot to do with emotion.
When we are in a losing streak, we are usually so mad that we want to rush things and make some unprecedented mistake that we wouldn’t have committed otherwise, this is pertaining to the negative feedback loop earlier.
If you play too much it would be bad for your momentum and you will end up losing games, this is bad for improvement since you are less likely to be motivated in studying during a losing streak.
Playing too much chess is an inefficient use of your time
If you play too much chess and never take a break, it is likely that you are not really being efficient with the use of your time and not seeing growth in general.
This usually occurs to casuals who are not serious in the game and never take the time to study, sometimes playing more games will not result in a better return on investment.
They don’t usually study much and only play even if they have stagnant growth, these kinds of players obviously have lower peaks. They have been playing too much even though they are being inefficient.
The reason why this is bad for improvement is they are likely to think that they are actually improving by playing games even though they don’t, so they still continue playing and do not improve in general.
Playing too much chess, signs, and why it is bad for improvement
The first sign that you are playing too much chess is you start only making the good-enough moves rather than trying to spend time and look for good moves (especially if you have the time), this will be bad for your improvement in general.
It is when you don’t care about the decisions that you make, or that you try to rush things just to allow something exciting to happen. This will be bad for your improvement since these are just fodder games that don’t really do anything.
You might be playing but you are not really giving your best, therefore, having no opportunity to analyze well, you are also less likely to study when in this mindset.
If you see any of these signs then know that you’re playing too much and maybe need to backtrack a little.
Sometimes the most obvious way to improve is not really the correct one, there is such a thing as too much to everything. There are occasions where we need to stop and consider if we are actually making progress.
I have seen a lot of people play continuously without it actually affecting their rating, it is pretty sad to be honest. I have been in the same boat, it is a pretty easy trap to fall into if you are not aware of it.
And I have been the same type of player since I didn’t know any better at the time. Hopefully this article informed you enough that you will avoid the same blunder of playing too much and really wasting your effort.
I hope you have been educated with this article, sleep well and play chess.