What It’s Like To Go Through A Chess Phase

Get ready to feel really, really smart…then really, really dumb.

1. You discover chess. It seems awesome, but you have no idea how it works.

WTF is this wizardry how do I do the thing?

2. You learn the basics pretty quickly and start looking into strategies and tactics.

3. You realize this shit goes pretty deep.

4. You beat your friends at a few games. Clearly, you are the Chess Master.

Lisa Morrison / AP


5. Now you’re hooked.

Jesse Mendoza / AP

6. You learn some gonzo moves like Fool’s Mate and think you’re a total badass.

This is basically what the pieces do.

7. Until you realize it never works.

8. Almost impossible to actually pull off.

9. Still, you think you’re really, really good.

Lennie Mahler / AP

10. Your unstudied friends don’t stand a chance against you.

Laurie Skrivan / AP

11. Then you see what chess notation looks like.

Basically Dothraki.

12. You realize there’s a whole new level to this, and you’re just scratching the surface.

“I have no idea what I’m doing.”

13. You play some actual chess players and get completely destroyed.


The horror. All those pawns. They were so young.

14. So you head back down the rabbit hole, studying classic matches, getting a chess coaching app, favoriting YouTube tutorial after YouTube tutorial — anything to get back that feeling of intellectual glory.

Bobby Fischer, you make it look so easy.

15. It helps you realize that there are a lot of people who take this WAY more seriously than you.

Adam Cairns / AP

16. And they always will.


17. So you return to normal life as a casual chess player.

18. Playing on a rainy afternoon with a friend is still super fun.


19. Sure, kids like this will always be able to whoop you, but it’s cool.

Ilya S. Savenok / Getty Images

20. ‘Cause chess isn’t just for baby geniuses, it’s for everybody.



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