Why do some people not like chess?

You know about this website, it is a place dedicated to answering questions about chess because I love this game. However, I understand that there are certain preferences for so many people out there that they might not actually like this, and that’s what I’m going to explain.

I’m going to give my own take about why some people do not like to even try mastering this competitive activity (that is chess).

Some people do not like chess since it requires elaboration that people may not appreciate, it is mentally-focused that it can appear boring, it is not popular enough, the competition is harsh, it is complicated, and learning it is difficult.

This is also for other chess lovers who are wondering about the same thing, why can’t other individuals see the spark of this game? Hoping to explain some of the key points and reasoning.

Is the nature of chess the reason why some people don’t like it?

Chess is naturally played in a mental struggle that only appeals to mentally-oriented people, the sophistication of its aspects is very limiting to attract a large audience. Some people cannot handle the complexity and therefore choose other games.

It is the same as being in an academic contest, playing sudoku, crossword puzzles, or any problem-solving dilemmas. Chess is a heavy mental game of logical reasoning, unless you are mentally-oriented it would appear boring due to its supposed blandness. 

Not everyone enjoys looking at a stale board poking around for small positional maneuvers that could lead to an advantage. Visually, it seems that individual moves do not have any major effect on the situation on the board, it takes an observing eye to do that.

It is not something eventful that you would just sit there and enjoy the show, playing it takes a lot of mental investment that strains some people. Now granted that is the same for participating in any competition, this one is different since the build-up to a win is usually not noticeable

Getting a hoop on basketball is a visual score, being up a pawn in chess is really not indicative of a win depending on the position. This means only those that are more analytical can enjoy participating in something like this, and not everyone is like that.

The complication of chess is sometimes hard to take

Chess is just a very complicated activity, the pieces are very confusing with their unique moves, and strategies require some sophistication. Learning it requires you to study the unique movements of several pieces, and utilizing all of them into this grand plan of a game.

There are so many strategies for going into the different aspects of chess (opening, middlegame, and endgame) that it would seem overwhelming to some outside person. It seems like a drag, something that you need to force yourself into to genuinely participate. 

Here is a video of someone who tried to master chess in the span of 30 days to make this point:

After 30 days the person in question has barely made anything to improve their game, when someone experiences this, it is difficult to stay. It is hard to not question one’s ability to even make a reasonable pursuit of being good at this game, so some people might be driven away from it.

Accountability in chess is painful

Chess is an individual game where the accountability is high, the losses are pretty personal and some people might not be comfortable with that. When you suffer a defeat, all of the decisions that you made before that outcome are determined by your own hand only and not of others.

It is unlike a team game where the fault is much distributed, so every loss feels heavy and pretty uncomfortable if you are not used to it. Several experiences of this might be enough to make someone stay away from this game, it can get unhealthy after all if you are not winning a lot of games.

You can make the case that a win is more fruitful since it will be entirely based on your abilities (not of your team), but we have to understand that not everyone gets that point.

Does competitive play drive people away from chess?

Chess tournaments require participants to play continuous six to eight hours of matches for consecutive days, and along with the competition, some people might get discouraged and move to other games.

Chess tournaments are extremely stressful, this led some people to prefer not being associated with the game at all. I have been in several tournaments myself and I can tell you that it is tiring both physically and mentally, you need some serious conditioning to survive.

And not everyone is willing to go through such a preparation, so they are just more likely to stay playing casual games. However, casual games where the competition is not that high will inevitably make the game much duller.

The fierce struggle against an opponent of equal or higher strength is what makes chess truly enjoyable, so this lack of experience might eventually lead people to quit. If you want to have a clear picture of why exactly chess tournaments are stressful this article (will open in a new tab) should explain that.

Mastering chess takes a long time

Excelling in this game requires a lot of initial and continuous investments (energy and time), which may be too hard for people to be interested in. The learning curve is much steeper than any other competition out there, you have to learn several things all at once.

This means that early on, you are unlikely to gain wins that can increase your confidence and make you stick long enough to see the results. You are inevitably seeing the bad part of chess, which is losing a lot due to the required learning curve at first.

This is definitely not appealing to some people who are used to short-term results, the progress is much invisible at times.

This is a video of a complete beginner who tried to master chess and challenge the world champion to test their abilities.

He is pretty confident that he can do it at first but soon realizes the ridiculousness of this claim, it just takes a long time to master chess. And this dull condition will inevitably make anyone not that interested to find other things that are more entertaining.

Is the lack of exposure of chess the reason some people do not like it?

Appreciating chess requires an individual to initially already have the knowledge in understanding the moves, this makes the introduction of people to chess hard since they don’t know that it can be exciting.

It’s hard to appreciate the game if you don’t know how to play it in the first place, you need that initial push to start learning the game. I myself for example find the game very confusing when I didn’t yet initiate a lot of studies, it is pretty timid and boring.

I’ve just come across a great youtube channel that shows all these attacking opportunities and beautiful maneuvering (with an explanation) that made me begin interest. After that, it is easy for me to see how exciting every aspect of the game can be, however I didn’t start that way.

And frankly that’s how most people get to view chess, they just don’t get the positional finesse every move can bring since they haven’t studied it. The amount of attractiveness is invisible to them since they don’t have the mechanism to understand the ideas, they have that need for a starting push.

Unfortunately this starting push is uncommon to come back in the physical form since chess players rarely advocate their passion (in real life). With the advent of technology in today’s world, the rise of chess influencers is starting to take hold, and in fact, chess is becoming more popular because of this.

Difference between chess lover and chess player

Believe it or not there is a huge difference between someone who just loves playing chess than the one who treats it as a competitive pursuit. The one who treats it competitively would be going around tournaments trying to be as efficient as possible, while a chess lover would just play casual games every now and then.

Some people really do like playing chess, they just don’t like to take their game to the level that serious competitors do. And these serious competitors just label anyone who plays casually as not a true player, from their perspective they don’t count as someone who likes chess.

Some will even play the game once a month with their friend just to have fun, however, some serious competitors still do not consider them as chess likers. This puts an illusion to how much audience chess really reaches out which is pretty huge in itself, maybe it’s not like people don’t like it, it’s more like some people won’t recognize the audience.

Is the lack of popularity the reason why some people don’t like chess?

Chess is not as popular as other sports like basketball, soccer, etc. where it is hard to find a community that would inspire a player to continue. It is hard to form a bond with an opponent therefore pursuing chess is mostly done alone (this doesn’t appeal to a lot of people).

One of the things that would keep someone inspired to continue pursuing the game is a community, something one can feel belonged and interact with. The popularity of chess however is not comparable to other major sports, this means that a community that motivates people is much harder to find.

I’m sure you’ve experienced this in your own life where you just want to find a group that you can share experiences with, and then end up liking the similarities you have. That is harder to occur in chess since it is popular, but not that popular, where it will be hard to find that camaraderie that can keep people longer. 

Otherwise, it can not only attract but also retain new individuals that wouldn’t have been interested in this game in the first place, that is what lacks. There is hope though in online platforms since there are so many influencers out there that it brings people together and keeps them interested in chess for long.

In chess, it’s hard to make your opponent a friend

As I’ve talked about earlier, every individual outcome in a chess game becomes personal, this can be a burden into a further association. It is difficult to make a connection with your opponent in chess, this condition leads people to pursue chess alone which may appear undesirable.

It is much easier to be interested in something if there is a friend and since a community is hard to find, a friend would be helpful in keeping people in. However the reality is most people who like chess tend to do their passion alone, which over time, will naturally lead them to other games that they can form social relationships with.

Is it normal that some people do not like playing chess?

Any game cannot possibly appeal to every available person in the world, chess is not an exception where it has qualities that are not preferred by different people (whether it’s sophistication, problem-solving, risk-taking, mental endurance, etc.). 

There is something we have yet to consider here, which is it is just natural for some people to not like the game. People are just different, with different preferences and personalities that can lead them away from certain activities.

There has been no universal sport that everyone from the world likes to a degree, there will be those who naturally do not prefer it. Chess in particular has very distinct qualities that only attract a specific type of people for the most part (introverted), so the reach is just far from being applicable to most people.

Granted there might be some things in chess that can explain why some people do not like it, but just the pure difference in personal preference is also a deciding factor. If you want to learn why chess favors an introverted personality you can view this article (will open in a new tab) for a full explanation.

Do you now know why some people do not like playing chess?

No matter how passionately we think of something as being good does not mean that everybody will see it that way, and that includes chess. It is just one of those niche games that usually only attract a few people, though the rise of the internet changed that.

Now I have seen this game to be a representation of being cool, now it is being revered greatly due to the community it has online. But even with this reach, there are just those individuals that are not compatible with learning the game, and that is okay.

I think we should do our best in trying to spread the beauty of chess but bear in mind that not everyone would naturally like the proposition, it can guide us in this goal but necessarily accomplishes it, I sure hope this helps, sleep well and play chess.

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