10 Ways You Look Like A Chess Newbie

So you think you’re a cool chess dude, but is it obvious to everyone else that you’re a chess newbie? Here are 10 pitfalls you need to avoid to help you shed the newbie tag!

1. You don’t know all the rules

Yes, I’m serious. Who taught you to play chess? Your father? A friend? A slightly crazy uncle? The chances are they taught you how the pieces move, how to checkmate, and that was all.  

There are a huge number of newbies who have never heard of the en passant rule, and are blissfully unaware of the finer points of the rules about castling.

Not knowing the rules, and - even worse - criticising others when it’s actually you who is mistaken, is the biggest sign that you’re a newbie.

Visit this link to brush up on the facts!

2. You think all draws are boring

“Boring!”, screams the newbie after a hard-fought game lasting several hours ends in a fair draw.  A draw is a perfectly valid outcome of a chess game, and doesn’t mean that the players weren’t trying. The stronger the players, the more common are draws because those titled folk really know what they’re doing and are hard to beat!

Some games are boring, but judge each one by the quality of the play, not the end result!

3. You’ve never read a chess book

There is a truly enormous wealth of literature about chess, and you’ve never read any of it? There are countless books on chess openings, middlegames, endgames, tactics, strategy, biographies and game collections.

We may be living in an age of online opening databases, and have GM strength chess engines available to buy for under £50, but chess books are important learning materials.  Plus, having a shelf full of chess books is the ultimate in geek interior decor!

Try some of the books recommended here for a start.

4. You don’t play any long time-control games. Ever.

Blitz chess is great fun and very addictive. Rapid chess is cool as well, and allows a bit more time for strategic thinking. But unless you play some chess at standard (long) time controls then you’re never going to deepen your understanding of the game.

As for bullet chess (all moves in 1 minute), it’s the crystal meth of the chess world. Go ahead if you enjoy it, but don’t pretend you’re doing anything other than sharpening your reflexes!  A steady diet of nothing but bullet and blitz chess will make your chess thinking as shallow as a paddling pool.

5. You bad-mouth Grandmasters

“Ha-ha, what a loser!”. “Grandmaster Z is such an idiot!”. “I could beat Grandmaster Y with my eyes closed!”

Becoming a Grandmaster is extraordinarily difficult.  Every player that has earned the right to put the capital letters GM before their name is part of an elite group that 99.99% of us can only dream of belonging to.  

But we’re all human, so when a Grandmaster slips up it shows us how difficult our wonderful game of chess really is. One terrible move doesn’t make a great player a bad one.

If you ever had the good fortune to play a Grandmaster, they could crush you like a bug. Show some respect!

6. You know nothing about chess news or chess history.

Imagine an amateur tennis player who had never heard of Bjorn Borg. What about a local league soccer player who didn’t recognize a picture of Pele?

As an amateur chess player, do you know who these great players are?

Chess has an amazingly rich history, and games from the great matches and tournaments of the past are freely available.  If you can count the names of famous historical chess players you know on the fingers of one hand, and have no idea what is going in the current world of chess, then you are missing out on a massive amount of chess culture and marking yourself out as a newbie.

7. You never resign

Don’t be ridiculous. If you are losing a chess game there comes a point when your position is so hopeless that resigning is a sensible and courteous decision.  Judging when to resign comes with experience, but it’s an essential part of the game.

8. You complain about your opponent not resigning

The opposite of #7, this character takes any opponent’s refusal to resign as an affront to all that is decent and right in the world. If you are easily winning a chess game, then just enjoy yourself! Your opponent is prolonging their own agony and will lose eventually.  Let their refusal to resign be grist to your mill!

9.  You don’t own a chess set

You might play most (and perhaps all) of your chess on the Internet, but real chess is played in the flesh, with a board and pieces. You can see the whites of your opponent’s eyes and sense their excitement or fear as the game unfolds.

Chess sets come in so many shapes and sizes, from inexpensive plastic sets to beautifully carved wooden sets that are passed down through the generations in families.

If you’ve never played on your own chess set, you’ve never played chess!

10. You think anyone who beats you must be a cheat

By far the most popular topic of discussion among newbies is cheating.  Now, there are undeniably some deluded individuals who get their kicks from cheating at online chess by using computer software to help pick their moves. Fortunately, they are in a small minority, so if you lose an online chess game, don’t immediately accuse your opponent just because your ego is hurt. Figure out where you went wrong and come back stronger next time.

So there you have it. 10 things that make it obvious you’re a chess newbie. Of course, you don’t do any of these things, do you?  But I bet you know someone who does...we were all newbies once.


  • 17 months ago


    I've been playing chess since I was 4 (I'm 12 now, do the maths) so I wouldn't call myself a newbie. However, I still don't know any grandmasters and what they look like (apart from Akobian, Kasparov & Fischer)  and haven't read a chess book, as I learn most of my openings, endgames, etc. on youtube lectures. So either I'm a newbie and don't think I am, or these things don't apply for everyone. (Don't criticize me my friends have all of these except 8). So I play online.

  • 2 years ago



  • 3 years ago


    Awesome I love it.

  • 4 years ago



  • 4 years ago


    After 26 years playing the game, I've finally crossed number 3 off the list this summer!


    But I'm still not sure I know all the rules!

  • 5 years ago


    7. I do and I'm not a newbie

    8. I hate it whenever someone does this to me

  • 5 years ago


    If you can name both these world champions then you are not a newb, you are a chess addict/geek!  (I wear those titles like a grandmaster wears GM)

  • 5 years ago


    @ DylanAM:

    Amen! I can't tell how many <1000 players i've played who have played that against me. then when i play 3... Ne5, they go, "Darn!" and on the outside i'm -_- but on the inside I'm ROFL!

  • 5 years ago


    Neither Capa, nor Botvinnik made it to that shelf...(As far as my aging eyes allow me to see Cry)

  • 5 years ago


    Only point I might disagree with is 9. The others are spot on.

    I do own plenty of sets though - 3 and would be more had I not given some away to my chess club.

    It's been more than a decade though since I played a serious face-to-face game.

  • 5 years ago


    You should write something similar about trolls...

  • 5 years ago


    every chess person started out not knowing chess...........

    if there weren't newbies:


    -all the self proclaimed hot shots would have nothing to talk about

    -bragging to yourself about yourself in the mirror would get old

    -there would be no more chess cuz people (even people who are good at chess) get old and eventually die.


    please don't hate us newbies....we just wanna play chess too

  • 5 years ago


    Well I guess that though I have been playing for the past thirty years I must still be a newbie, but I'd rather be a newbie than an oldbie.

  • 5 years ago


    I strongly disagree with lots of the points made.

    Read the 10 headlines again, replacing the word 'chess' with 'scrabble'.  You enjoy playing scrabble, right? But you can't name one world champion?? You've never read a scrabble book?? Noob!!! see what I mean ;)

  • 5 years ago


    Yeah I'm a solid, true newbie! Cool I belong to this stratum due to №3: I really never read books on chess. And partially 4 and 9 are about me - I know little about chess history (though Botvinnik is recognizable by anyone I think): some world champions, some great games and that's all... What about a chess set - I own two of them, but have nothing better than sitting in front of the mirror to play on them. Unfortunately, in my circle of aquaintances there're no decent opponents :( and yes, since recently I've become addicted to bullet chess, hope not forever, always looking for an excuse of time.

  • 5 years ago


    11.  You still call them "Horsies" and "Castles"

    12.  You say "times" as in Nxb4 = "Horsey times b 4"

    13.  You think castling is for wussies

    14.  Your opponent says "J'adoube" and you think he is trying to insult you

    15.  You settle draws by arm-wrestling because what sort of a player accepts a draw?

    16.  You think a "Queen Sac" is the bag that the chess pieces come in

  • 5 years ago



    13. You are ashamed of losing to a woman (or think you can beat any of them)


    Fischer's a noob

  • 5 years ago

    WGM Natalia_Pogonina

    @vizkris Did you expect a video of my colleage Anna would become an eye-opener for me or something? Laughing I can show that "trick" myself.

    Besides, pros often neglect chess sets not because they are so cool and can calculate ALL in their head (like you  imply), but because most of their analysis is computer-related. However, it is widely known that it makes sense to train making moves on a real board since it helps you memorize the lines & boosts your blitz skills. Some internet blitz wizards are not nearly as efficient otb, and vice versa.

    @kurushimi Modern players are stronger than those of the past for a number of reasons. First of all, now we know about chess much more than, let's say, a century ago. Secondly, there are databases and chess engines. Thirdly, you can quickly exchange information via the Internet. Reason #4 is that you can gain access to great coaching no matter where you live (similar to #3). Reason #5 - chess is more competitive these days, and more people try it (the higher the number of players involved, the higher the chance of a genius's appearance).

    A good example would be modern and ancient science. If you were a member of Pythagorean club and knew about the existence of irrational numbers, you would have to keep this TOP MATHS a secret. Now anyone in grade 3 or so knows about it.

  • 5 years ago


    i need a teacher whom can speaks indonesian...

  • 5 years ago


    The players in #6 are Capablanca and Botvinnik Cool

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