Have you ever felt like this:
I just had a chess match with my friend. As soon as I started making moves I was unknowingly drifting away from my surroundings. I forgot everything that was happening around me.
With each move I made, there was a mixed feeling of anxiety as well as the thrill of “What will happen next?” Will he kill my pieces? Will he deliver a check…I was totally lost in the game.
The game was very addictive for me. But this is not just about this game, every game I play, I feel so much enjoyment and I have developed a kind of addiction to chess and that makes me think that why is this game so addictive.
Do I need to worry about it and if yes then please guide me about some solution!
Now, if you are reading this right now means you also want to know the answer to these questions, right? Luckily, you are in the right place.
I researched all the scientific reasons as well as what is it that makes anything addictive for us. Without further ado let’s jump in!
Why Is Chess So Addictive?
Scientifically, whenever you play your favorite game such as chess, your brain’s reward system gets activated and the happy hormone dopamine is released. This ultimately develops a craving nature within you, making the game addictive.
There is a reward system in our brain. It is responsible for the desire or craving for a reward. Mostly, each and every habit that turns into addiction is because this system comes into play.
If you have an addiction to reading books then it means whenever you read books, inside your brain, there is a release of happy hormones such as dopamine.
These releases of hormones stimulate the brain and act as a reward. Due to this, the brain gets motivated to do that task.
Next time whenever you read a book, again these hormones are released and the vicious cycle continues.
Another fact that makes chess addictive is that it is so easy to learn but so hard to master. Any game that is easy to learn will naturally create a fanbase, isn’t it?
More and more people learn chess, and they compete with each other. While competing, if you face opponents weaker than you, chances are that you will win the game. This winning activates the reward system in our brain that I talked about earlier.
Although chess is easy to learn it is at the same time hard to master. Many grandmasters even lose against lower-rated players sometimes just because there are many things required to master it and it takes a lot of time.
Thus this also shows how challenging a chess game is. Anything that challenges our brain develops an interest within us for it. This is also the reason why chess is not so boring.
We humans like challenges because after overcoming them we get great happiness. This is how we are programmed and this is how our brain works.
So these were some reasons which make chess a very addictive game. Now some addictions (up to some extent) are good and some are bad. But the point is how to determine whether you are really having an addiction to something or not.
How Do I Know If I Am Getting Addicted To Chess?
If you play chess and that comes in the way of your career, relationship, and other major areas of your life then it is a sign you might be getting addicted to it.
If this is not the case then just relax. It is just normal like your other hobbies and continues to play.
For example, person A plays and thinks about chess for in total of 5 hours in a day but is able to manage relationships as well as his/ her career in a pretty smooth way.
On the other hand, person B devotes only 2 hours to chess but by doing that his/her life gets severely affected. He/she is not able to concentrate on his studies, and work, not able to manage relationships, and other major areas.
Then here person B although devoting lesser time to chess than person A, is said to be addicted to chess.
Also Read: How Is Chess Related To Life?
So, up till now, I hope you might have understood whether you are really addicted or not. Now the point comes, if you are addicted to something then naturally you would try to get rid of it. But like any other addiction chess is also not so easy to get rid of. You need to have strong determination.
Why Is Not So Easy To Get Rid Of Chess Addiction?
Whenever you play chess and win the game a sort of ego develops. Next time when you play against a lower-rated player then it becomes very hard for you to be satisfied with a defeat against that player. Your ego gets hurt and so your mind always tries to compensate for that loss by playing another game and winning it.
When you win a chess game you experience great satisfaction scientifically due to the release of hormones. This urges you to play more and more.
Moreover, nowadays online chess games, especially blitz games are very addictive. Blitz games are generally short-time-controlled games. You are always under time stress when you play them. So, after the game ends you may even start perspiring.
Lots of hormones are released during this and you get stimulated to play these games again and again. You generally get encouraged to play more to win and if you win then to win more or to improve your rating.
There is a status of intelligence associated with when you play chess. We have a stereotype which also holds true up to some extent, that people who play good chess are very intelligent. So to look better than others you might get motivated to play more chess.
Now, I want to do a famous experiment with you. I will ask you to do one thing and you have to do that. So let’s start!
Don’t think about CHESS! Please don’t think about CHESS!
Isn’t the reverse thing happening? Instead of not thinking about chess you are thinking more and more about it. Right? So why is that happening?
It is because in your mind you are constantly thinking about it. Whenever the word ‘CHESS” comes into your mind the word ‘don’t’ gets neglected and your mind tries to remind you of the happiness you get when you play chess. The mind starts to lure you to play the game.
Therefore, you can’t get rid of addiction if you run away from it. To get rid of it, you need self-awareness.
Also Read: Why Is Chess So Fun?
So, after knowing what is addiction, what are the root causes of addiction to chess, and how to determine if we are really addicted to chess, now it is time to see the solution. To know how to get rid of the addiction and take back the control in our hands.
How Do I Stop My Addiction To Chess?
Here are some of the tips you can follow to overcome chess addiction:
1. Gradually reduce the time you devote to chess
To overcome chess addiction you can control the time you spend playing chess or thinking about it. You can do this by making a proper schedule.
You can reduce the number of free hours you have in your daily routine. Whenever you have free time your mind will try to look for the easy pleasures and lure you into the game. The thoughts of chess will suddenly start to cloud your mind when you are totally free.
You can instead of keeping continuous two-three hours of free time in your schedule try to break it into parts if possible. Reduce the time you play chess each day slowly. Do this in such a way that you won’t realize when one day you are back to normal.
2. Try to avoid the triggers
Generally, when we talk about chess addiction most of the time it is online chess, right? So being online that too when you are having enough free time to play the game acts as a trigger.
These triggers are major culprits that again make you play chess even if you commit to not play. So you have to be aware of those triggers. Try to identify them. Try to recall what are the things that compel you to play chess.
Is it any social media video that inspires you about chess? Then try to watch that video less ( I know that it is hard to stop anything immediately so the best way is to take slow steps and move towards our goal.)
Is it because your friend is inviting you to play chess online? Then try to explain to him that you are now in the phase of overcoming the chess addiction. If that doesn’t work then simply try to avoid that message by either muting the notifications or maybe deleting the app from the phone.
3. Try something different that you already have interest
Try to divert your mind. Our mind is like a monkey that keeps on jumping here and there until it settles on something that it likes or has any interest in.
So find some other passion or hobby inside you. Do you like painting? Photography? Or any kind of Creative Hobby that you are passionate about then just do that for some days. Try giving more priority to this hobby instead of chess.
After some days you will yourself start to notice that now you are not addicted to chess as you were before.
4. You can also take a sudden long break from chess
Sometimes the slow approach won’t work. You need to quit the hobby abruptly and take a long break to get control in your hands.
For example, if you are currently addicted to chess then just from this moment decide that you won’t play chess for the next 2-3 months (especially the online blitz chess which is more addictive comparatively).
This might sound silly but it works. If you are able to be strict with yourself then soon you will be able to see the results.
This is the last and final approach to getting rid of any addiction. But it is very helpful and works more effectively if you apply this approach along with the third step.
Suppose along with chess you also like photography. Then you can set a target like, for the next two-three months you will accomplish this project of taking pictures or making albums without doing any other things (like chess).
Writing is another great way to get rid of not just chess but any kind of addiction. You can write poems, stories or maybe if you have certain skills then you can set a goal for the next two-three months I will not think or play chess but will write a complete book on the XYZ topic. I hope you are getting it. Actually, you have to be creative here.
Try to remain busy. Do some home exercises, listen to some spiritual talks if you are interested, or do whatever you like to keep yourself active and productive.
Self-Awareness Is the key!
If you are aware of what you are doing then nothing in life can be an addiction for you. At any point, you can easily get rid of it. So you have to be aware of that.
As I said earlier if you think that playing chess is hampering the major areas of your life then only give this much attention. Otherwise, just relax and enjoy this awesome hobby.
That’s it! I hope you liked reading this article. If you found this helpful then please do share it with others. Till then thanks and good luck!
Can you get addicted to chess?
Yes, you can get addicted to chess. Like any other game, chess can also trigger the release of the happy hormone dopamine which is associated with the brain’s reward system. However, chess addiction can be avoided by self-control and self-awareness.
Is chess good for your brain?
Yes, many studies have shown the positive effects of chess on the brain. Chess helps to improve memory, problem-solving skills, creativity and also helps to reduce the risk of mental health issues.
Does chess make you crazy?
Although some popular chess players such as Paul Morphy and Bobby Fischer suffered from mental illness, there is no scientific evidence to prove if chess can really make someone crazy. As indulging in any activity excessively can be harmful, the same goes with chess.