Quotations 1 ...

The link below is to a list of quotes relating to chess from people in various walks of life.  Some are well-known chess players although other people - actors, sportsmen, writers, politicians - often refer to the game as a way of expressing their thoughts about a variety of subjects.

“Be careful about the engine's assessments as they often over-value 'extra space'”.

GM and author Glenn Flear


“If it is possible to decide on your move on purely positional grounds then you should do so; it is quicker and more reliable. There are, of course, many positions in which concrete analysis is essential, but even in those cases you should not analyse specific variations more than necessary”

GM, author and 2022 World Senior Champion 65+ John Nunn
“Many beginners make a mistake trying to solve puzzles without learning the patterns.”

GM and trainer Avetik Grigoryan
“We choose candidate moves (…) based on recognizable patterns from previous experience and analysis.”

GM, author and trainer Lars Bo Hansen
“I strongly feel that pattern recognition is an important aspect of improvement in chess.”

GM, author and trainer Swapnil Dhopade
“If you have a “bad” minor piece, try to keep at least one other minor piece on the board so that you won’t end up in a hopeless good piece versus bad piece endgame.”

US National Master and blogger Dana Mackenzie
“Many young people react terribly when they lose. But chess teaches you that today you are a loser, but tomorrow you will be a winner.”

GM Miguel Najdorf (1910-1997)
“I believe it is very important not to over-dramatize the concept of “mistake”. We make mistakes, and if we make a habit of correcting them, without feeling too bad about them, that will improve anyone’s life.”

Swedish GM and author Tiger Hillarp Persson
“If you are still under 2000, most of your calculation mistakes are happening on move one - you are literally either not considering the best move in the position, or you are failing to consider the opponent's best reply to your move.”

GM Max Illingworth
“King safety is the most important factor in evaluating positions.”

IM, author and trainer Erik Kislik
“All chess theory is based on the concept of mobility: one piece is stronger than another if it can cover more squares, one position is preferable to another if the pieces act together more harmoniously, do not get in one another’s way. This consideration is the key to questions of positional advantage in general.”

GM and author Reuben Fine (1914-1993)
“When the centre is closed, never castle without reflection when the opponent has not yet shown his hand.”

GM Sundararajan Kidambi
“Calculation in chess is like a muscle that needs to be trained regularly.

”GM, author and trainer Swapnil Dhopade
"That’s chess you know. One day you give a lesson, the next day your opponent gives you a lesson.”

GM Robert “Bobby” Fischer (1943-2008), World Champion 1972-5
“Don’t open the position when you are less developed than the opponent.”

GM Miguel (aka Mendel) Najdorf (1910-1997)
“Last rounds are often when it is easiest to pick up wins. Players are getting tired and making sloppy mistakes. Motivation can often be low.”

GM and author Daniel Gormally
“At lower levels the quickest way for most players to achieve better results is to improve their tactical ability."

GM John Nunn.

“Good nerves are absolutely essential. If one does not have strong nerves, fear grows, and if one is afraid , then mistakes almost automatically come. There is no way one can beat a strong player if one is afraid of him.”

GM and author William Lombardy (1937-2017)

"Every time, I calculate how to sacrifice something."

GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov 
“In a flank attack, a knight may be more useful than a rook.”

GM and author Viktor Moskalenko.

“The problem is that I had planned this from way back and didn't bother to check whether it was any good or whether I had anything better; a weakness that I have noticed in my game of late- a tendency to be impulsive, and not think matters through.”


GM and author Daniel Gormally

“One of the tenets of the flexibility principle is to distinguish between essential and arbitrary aspects of a position. Play what is essential, what has to be done anyways and leave the optional elements for later.”

GM, author and trainer Matthias Wahls
“As your main defence against 1 e4 I recommend the French. It leads to strategically complex positions, in which a better understanding of the pawn structure and a knowledge of the typical positional ideas plays a very decisive role. In the ensuing struggle, Black can outplay his opponent, seize the initiative and win the game.”

GM, author and trainer Artur Yusupov

“It is important to forget about the result and focus on the process and try to enjoy the game. Don't think about the outcome, try to play more interesting games, do not avoid risk, and try to create interesting positions on the board.”


GM Boris Gulko, the only player to have been Champion of both the USSR and the USA

“If possible, try to simplify the task; if something is clearly winning, it’s better to play it and avoid complications.”

GM, author and trainer Zenón Franco.
“When my opponent's clock is going I discuss general considerations in an internal dialogue with myself. When my own clock is going I analyse concrete variations.”

GM, author and trainer Mikhail Botvinnik, World Chess Champion for most of the period 1948-63.
“The French is one of the most solid defences against 1 e4. It has the virtues of simplicity and economy. It also has a drawback: it demands patience. But patience is needed for chess anyway,”

GM and author Lajos Portisch

“I just try to learn and get the best from the great masters, contemporary and from the past.”


World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen

“The power of the knight decreases as the pieces are exchanged off. The power of the rook, on the contrary, increases.”

GM José Raúl Capablanca, World Chess Champion 1921-27
“If you are rated below 1700-1800, then you can learn more from old classics than from the games of modern top players.”

GM, trainer and blogger Greg Serper.

“If you play a move that’s based on your own desires without looking at the enemy response, expect to lose many winning positions.”


IM, author and trainer Jeremy Silman

“I think that a person who has no other interests apart from chess will react badly to the failures that are inevitable in the fate of any player.”

GM Vasily Smyslov, World Champion 1957-8
 “For the price of an Isolated Queen’s Pawn (IQP) Black can get pretty much any queenside opening to transpose to the Tarrasch.”

IM and author John Donaldson, referring to the defence mainly reached via 1 d4 d5 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 c5!?. 
“Misremembering preparation will sometimes prove more treacherous than having never encountered the position before.”

GM, author and trainer Peter Wells
“In my view, it is tenacity in defence that most of all distinguishes the elite players from ‘mere mortals’.”

GM Andrey Kovalev
“Often it is useful to begin considering a position with the question: 'What does the opponent want; what would he play if it were him to move?’”

IM, famous trainer and author Mark Dvoretsky
“Part of your tactical training should be about developing tactical alertness – spotting the warning signs that tactics are present and thereby reacting with heightened vigilance.”

GM, author and trainer Peter Wells
“It’s important not to respond automatically. It’s essential to look to see if there are any alternatives, before playing the apparently obvious move.”

GM, author and trainer Zenón Franco
“…for now Titled Tuesday is an inexpensive, available and useful experience which the ECF should be doing much more to support. If the event had been around in the 1970s, the golden English generation would have jumped at it.”

Veteran chess journalist Leonard Barden in the Guardian, referring to a popular online competition for titled players on chess.com.

“Most chess players attach their chess results to their ego. That’s human to some degree. It’s always the extremes that we should avoid. Someone who extracts his entire value from his results in chess has a very hard time when losing. It is generally recommendable to base your self-esteem on more than just one pillar.”

GM and trainer Matthias Wahls

“One of the skills that immediately reveals a player’s class is the ability to make the right and avoid the wrong piece exchanges. Chess players who are not very proficient in this area often do not realize which piece exchanges are favourable for them and which are not, and they view them merely as a way to simplify the position.“

GM and author Davorin Kuljasevic

“Every time you play a game, check the opening before you play it again.”

IM and trainer David Fitzsimons

“I advise my pupils to use CCTV to look at the chessboard. Look for (in this order) CHECKS, CAPTURES, THREATS and VIOLENT (forcing) moves. You have to do this every move, remembering to look at your opponent’s forcing moves as well as (and often before) your forcing moves.”


Experienced chess trainer and author Richard James

“When you are playing against the bishop pair, it is usually a good idea to place the pawns on the opposite colour of the bishop that you have. This enhances the power of your own bishop while restricting the opponent's opposite-coloured bishop.”


GM, trainer and author Swapnil Dhopade

“For me, chess is a language, and if it's not my native tongue, it is one I learned via the immersion method at a young age.”

GM and former World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov

“Chess is exquisite. It is almost perfectly balanced. And I think the secret is that the bishop and knight are worth three points each but have such different powers.”


Demis Hassabis, the CEO of the artificial intelligence company DeepMind; in his youth he was one of the top-ranked junior chess players at international level.

“In chess, as in everything else, there’s a lot of ill-informed and dangerous rubbish out there.”

Experienced chess trainer and author Richard James, referring to the Internet.

“Play over lots of grandmaster games in your openings, to learn different ideas. Don’t worry if the move order is different from what you normally play. Study typical structures. If you learn isolated d-pawn positions, you already know many openings. If you learn French-type structures, you are prepared for the centre to become closed in other openings as well.”


GM, author, coach and former Chess Champion of the USA, Joel Benjamin

“When you have the advantage, and your opponent has a passive piece set-up, you should not hurry matters. With each move the likelihood of an error from the defending side increases.”


GM Mikhail Botvinnik (World Chess Champion for most of 1948-63), quoting advice given him by his idol, GM José Raoul Capablanca (World Chess Champion 1921-27).

“If you have less time to work on your chess on a specific day, spend that time training your calculation by solving positions. Calculation in chess is like a muscle that needs to be trained regularly. If you stop solving, your calculation muscle shrinks.”

GM, trainer and author Swapnil Dhopade

“He was, in effect, a pattern recognition machine.”


Biographer Frank Brady, describing Robert “Bobby” Fischer, World Chess Champion 1972-5

“We humans cannot analyse a billion positions per second, so improving our understanding is our best way forward.”

GM and author John Shaw

“In simplified positions the pawn structure is a factor of tremendous importance.”

GM Ioannis Papaioannou

“I like to learn chess through intense study of one player or one theme at a time. When I was striving to become a grandmaster I realized that my weakness was endgames and strategical play so I spent many months studying players like Rubinstein, Valery Salov and Epishin. I learned a lot.”


GM and author Tiger Hillarp

“The ‘long’ backwards move of a queen is always a surprise for any chess player, regardless of strength and rating.”


GM, trainer and author Vladirmir Okhotnik, an interesting player, born in 1950; it was only in 2011 that he became a Grandmaster.

“It is a profound mistake to imagine that the art of combination depends only on natural talent, and that it cannot be learned. Every player knows that all (or almost all) combinations arise from a recollection of familiar elements.”


GM and author Richard Réti (1889-1929)

“Distrust a pawn move; examine carefully its balance sheet.”


GM Emanuel Lasker, World Chess Champion 1894-1921

“I am convinced a careful study of the endgame sparked the biggest leap forward in my own game.”


GM and British Chess Champion 2015 Jonathan Hawkins, who gained the grandmaster title in his thirties.

“Always ask yourself ‘why did he make this particular move?’ before you do anything else.”


Robert “Bobby” Fischer, World Champion 1972-5

“For players around 1600-1700 I think it is vital to be crystal clear about the role tactics are playing in your games. If your games are still being frequently decided by blunders/tactical tricks then this should be the area to focus on.”


GM, author and trainer Peter Wells

“A love for the game of chess as art, a love that brings personal joy, fascination, and satisfaction, is the secret of chess success for players on any level.”


GM William Lombardy (1937-2017), World Junior Champion 1957 with a score of 11/11.

“I really like studying the games of the masters from the past.”

World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen

“Always look one move deeper than seems to be necessary. After any sequence of captures or checks, look for the sting in the tail.”


IM, psychologist, broadcaster, author and former British Chess Champion Bill Hartston.

“A novice should avoid the Queen's Gambit and the French Defence and play open games instead! While he may not win as many games at first, he will in the long run be amply compensated by acquiring a thorough knowledge of the game.”


GM and author Richard Réti

“Ask not what your pieces can do for you, ask what you can do for your pieces.”


IM, psychologist, broadcaster, author and former British Chess Champion Bill Hartston

“Distrust your first instinct in selecting a move.  Sit on your hands. Look ahead to picture your opponent’s best reply and how you will answer that.”


Robert “Bobby” Fischer, World Chess Champion 1972-5

“Back then, Tal often played in blitz tournaments, which, of course, affected his game.  Endless blitz games are one of the reasons for “automatic” rashness in important games.”


IM Alexander Koblenz, the first trainer of GM Mikhail Tal, World Chess Champion 1960-61.

“ Generally speaking, to win a game you need your opponent’s involuntary assistance.”


GM Miguel Najdorf, author of the classic book “Zurich 1953: 15 Contenders for the World Chess Championship”

“A knowledge of combinations is the foundation of positional chess.”


GM and author Richard Réti

“Weak players assess a position by counting the captured men; strong players consider only the men remaining on the board.”


IM, psychologist, broadcaster, author and former British Chess Champion Bill Hartston.

“Using an engine is like getting a new pair of glasses when you are severely myopic.”


GM Nigel Short, British Champion 1984, 1987, and 1998, challenger for the World Chess Championship 1993

“Chess is oxygen to me.”


GM and former World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov

"If your position is objectively lost, the most important rule is 'keep the game going'. This doesn't mean that you should play on for a long time in a resignable position; it means 'do not allow your opponent a simple forced win'. The longer you can force your opponent to work, the greater the chance that he will eventually go wrong."


GM John Nunn in his book 'Secrets of Practical Chess'

"If you have made a mistake or committed an inaccuracy there is no need to become annoyed and to think that everything is lost. You have to reorient yourself quickly and find a new plan in the new situation."


GM, author and former challenger for the World Chess Championship, David Bronstein.

"Don't play more games than you have time to carefully review."


GM Edmar Mednis (1937-2002)

"Form in chess is quite a mysterious thing. It comes and goes, apparently without rhyme or reason, leaving you a winner one month and a miserable loser the next. (...)


GM, author and trainer Nigel Davies

“A knowledge of combinations is the foundation of positional chess.”


GM and author Richard Réti

“Players rarely develop in slowly building steps. They make quick jumps in playing ability, usually followed by long periods when no progress is apparent.”


GM, journalist and author Andrew Soltis

“Good technique in winning positions is always about you not allowing (or minimising) any counterplay.”


GM Alexander Colovic

“I came to the realisation that my result was not down to my lack of playing strength, but rather to my failure to actually play at that level of strength. Underestimating my opponents, and overestimating my own strength, that was what resulted in my failure. I believed that I just had to arrive at the board, make some moves, and I would win. I failed to concentrate fully on my games. (…)

I realized that it is not enough to be a good player, but that one must also play well.”


GM and author Siegbert Tarrasch, possibly the strongest player in the world for about ten years in the late 19th century.

“If your position is objectively ‘fine’ (0.00 for the benefit of youngsters), but you are in danger of losing the game on every move, your position is not ‘good’.”


GM, former challenger for the World Championship and author Boris Gelfand.

Especially in time-trouble there is a huge amount to be said for choosing forcing lines.”


GM, author and trainer Peter Wells (an excellent player at fast chess yet a notorious sufferer from time trouble in standard play games).

“Tactics is knowing what to do when there is something to do. Strategy is knowing what to do when there is nothing to do."


GM and author Savielly Tartakower

“The openings should be played rapidly as long as the opponent makes orthodox moves. An irregularity, however, should be looked into fairly closely, as it may be a mistake of which definite advantage can be taken.”


William Winter (1897-1955), British Chess Champion 1935 and 1936.

"One of the important things I've found when trying to learn a new opening is not just to study the basic theoretical moves. It's important to see complete games to get a sense of what kind of middlegames and endgames arise. (...) Knowing the evaluation doesn't really help you during a game - you have to know what the ideas are that underpin that evaluation."


GM Vinay Bhat

“A quick glance at your opponent's games with the “wrong” colour can establish whether he plays a particular line with both colours – there is at least one such line in the repertoire of any player. The way he treats it with the other colour is definitely relevant for your preparation.”


GM, author and trainer Johan Hellsten

“The engines do not have any sense of practicality.”


GM, author and trainer Jacob Aagaard

“To be passive (..). is fatal to the beginner or medium player – such players must be aggressive. He must attack, because only in that way can he develop his imagination, which is a very important thing.”


José Capablanca, World Chess Champion 1921-27

“One of my best years in chess was 2005. After a three-month study of Capablanca's games in the winter of 2004-2005 I exploded immediately in my first tournament by winning it and scoring my second GM norm.”


GM Alex Colovic

“When you are consciously playing for a win you sometimes have to avoid the objectively strongest move in order to keep the position tense and complicated.”


Former World Champion, GM Anatoly Karpov

“Black insists on playing an attack at all costs: a wrong policy in a case like this, where the number of pieces for the attack is inferior to the number of pieces for the defence.”


José Capablanca, World Chess Champion 1921-1927

“One of Karpov’s favourite positional techniques is to exchange one bishop and then arrange his pawns on squares of the corresponding colour”.


GM and author Alexander Khalifman

“People tend to get a little obsessed with the engine evaluations these days, but what Stockfish says and what happens on the board are often very different things. An important skill is the ability to find the most practical opportunity, rather than the objective best move in the position.”


GM Kevin Goh Wei Ming

“If you like a move then you must check that it isn’t a blunder, but you shouldn’t talk yourself out of it, especially when playing stronger opponents — when there’s a tendency to believe that the great man or woman opposite you couldn’t possibly have allowed such a strong move, so there must be something wrong with it.”


GM, author, three times British Champion and former World Championship Candidate Jonathan Speelman

“…endgames are like pure mathematics with some geometry. They have a beauty and fascination of their own. If you find proof, the matter is settled. They do not follow the whims of fashion. Analysing the opening, on the other hand, feels more like statistical math and I have always liked pure math much more.”


GM, author and endgame expert Karsten Müller

“Instead of adopting the simple course, White went in for complications: a policy not to be advised when there is a simple continuation in sight offering a definite advantage.”


José Capablanca, World Chess Champion 1921-1927

“I share the conviction of the Romans, that victory in battle is granted by the immortal gods and is therefore outside the will of the commander. It is the same in a chess battle. (…) therefore the task of a chess commander reduces to trying to find the best of the possible moves, without worrying about the result.”


GM Alexander Belyavsky, former candidate, world junior champion and four-times winner of the USSR championship.

“…you can easily download all Lichess-games of one person by the command "https://lichess.org/games/export/username" which is very useful for preparing against that person.”


Belgian FM, keen on-line player and blogger Helmut Froeyman, aka Brabo

“Especially in time-trouble there is a huge amount to be said for choosing forcing lines.”


GM, author and trainer Peter Wells

“The player with the better development should always try to open the position.”


GM and author Miguel Najdorf

“I checked the 10 million rated standard-games played beginning of November on Lichess. You have almost 6 times more chances to get an interesting opponent playing without increment than with increment.”


Belgian FM, keen on-line player and blogger Helmut Froeyman, aka Brabo; by “interesting” of course he means “strong”.

“Avoid ‘tilting’. Tilting happens when you lose a couple of games (sometimes not deserved) and  lose your objectivity. As a consequence you lose more games unnecessarily. Take regular breaks, although I admit that is easier said than done.”


Belgian FM, frequent on-line player and blogger Helmut Froeyman aka Brabo

“A feature of certain classical openings is the number of forgotten variations they contain. This makes them an excellent source for investigation, as if one of your lines springs a leak then there are usually alternatives that can be prepared.”


GM, author and respected coach Nigel Davies

“White will continue to look for ways to improve his position… Will it be enough for a win? Again, this sort of speculation is of course interesting for people watching the games with a beer in their hand, but for the competitive player, it has no relevance during the game. Play the best moves and seewhere it leads.


.” GM, World Championship candidate and author Boris Gelfand

"The book 'Fundamental Chess Endings' helped me quite a bit in playing some key endgames better. When I was, let’s say, 11 years old, I was quite poor at endings, and then already at 13/14 that was becoming a strength of mine.”


World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen

“The bulk of my opening repertoire is designed to give me, or help me work towards, a favourable pawn structure.“


GM Keith Arkell, European Senior (50+) Champion 2014.

"It is always easier to attack than to defend."


GM Nigel Short

“When confronted with a new position, relate it to known theory and try to figure out what the differences mean.”


GM and author Joel Benjamin

“Chess is like body-building. If you train every day, you stay in top shape. It’s the same with your brain - chess is a matter of daily training.”


Former World Chess Champion GM Vladimir Kramnik

“Playing sloppy moves so as not to have to calculate is not the way to become a strong player.”

GM and author Tiger Hillarp Persson
“A knight on c3 is always restricted by a pawn on c6; and vice-versa, as in the Ruy Lopez, where a knight on c6 is always restricted by a pawn on c3, which is why many of those positions are a little easier to play for White.”

World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen

“The stronger players have the ability (…) to approach each position on its own merits irrespective of what went before. Countless opportunities are missed by players who blindly pursue last move’s plan without taking account of a crucial change of circumstances.“


IM, psychologist, broadcaster, author and former British Chess Champion Bill Hartston.

“You must understand the strategies in an opening, especially if your opponent should deviate from the lines you have studied. If you play opponents below the master level, that is especially likely to happen!”


GM, author, coach and former Chess Champion of the USA Joel Benjamin

“Always look one move deeper than seems to be necessary. After any sequence of captures or checks, look for the sting in the tail.”


IM, psychologist, broadcaster, author and former British Chess Champion Bill Hartston.

“It is very unsatisfactory for a master to play only one opening; his opponents will be well prepared for play against him, and above all his chess horizon will be too narrow.”


GM Mikhail Botvinnik, World Chess Champion for most of the period 1948-63


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