3 Ways Playing Chess Can Help You Read People

Wednesday, 27 Mar 2019 Coach Steve 3 Comments

The way people playchess gives us insights into their personality.

Chess is one of the oldest games in history. Played by everyone from ancient kings to today’s online players, the game is enjoyed by millions. Countries like Russia have always viewed chess as a way to show intelligence, while others have used it as a way to bring people together. A game that stands for history and genius, there is much to learn from people based on how they play .

I’ve played chess ever since I was little, and the more I play the more I realize how emotions affect the game. For instance, whenever I make a bad move I start to play more aggressively. This is caused by frustration, but also a strategy to force the other player into making an error. Small decisions like this can give you great insight into the personality of your opponent.

Sometimes when I interview someone, I ask him or her if they’d like to play me in chess. Besides wanting to just play, I can also look for signs to gain a better understanding of the applicant. Next time you sit down for a game of chess, look for these three things in your opponent. It’ll help you understand them in a way you never thought possible.


1. How Do They React To An Early Mistake

One of the worst feelings in chess is when you lose a crucial piece. If this happens early, chances are you’re going to have to work the entire game to climb back. This is one of the most critical times for the mentality of a chess player. Not being able to forget the error will destroy your ability to come back. In these situations, pay special attention to how the other player reacts. Does he immediately show signs of anger and resentment? Does he brush it off, or show no emotion at all?

Besides an initial reaction, take note of how their strategy changes. One of my greatest weaknesses is that I become overly aggressive when I’m losing, because I feel anxious to even the playing field. The best chess players are able to keep their cool, and adjust their strategy without losing focus. These are the kinds of people you strive for, and the ones that I try to learn from. When your company makes a crucial mistake, you want people who can deliver under pressure and not panic.


2. How Does Time Affect Their Play

In chess, there are all types of ways to play with time. Some games can give players hours to think; others can be less than 5 minutes. One of the things to look for is if the person you’re going up against plays differently based on the time given. The best can concentrate for hours without getting distracted. While long and short games both need some of the same skills, they incorporate a variety of different strategies.

Can the other person react quickly and not get flustered? One of the keys in being great in chess and in business is adapting to certain scenarios. The changes in time helps bring that ability to light.


3. Do They Let You Win

Next time you’re interviewing someone and you ask him or her to play chess with you, see how he or she goes about it. A common scenario is the applicant will play conservatively and let you win.

Letting you win is not what you want to see. To test this, make a dumb move in the beginning of the game and see if he or she takes advantage. What you want is for the interviewee to try his or her hardest to beat you. That is because the best people in your company have to want to win, and that needs to be prevalent even in the first chess game you play.

AJ Agrawal from inc.com


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5 years ago

thank you for sharing this article, this is a most unexpected benefit of chess. I usually think of improvement in logic

Taylor Bishop
4 years ago

I hadn’t considered that chess can actually help you read people better. It’s nice to know that this is a way to learn how to adapt to certain scenarios because people can react different to a time constraint. I wonder if it could be good to practice chess with different time limits as a way to better yourself.

Taylor Bishop
4 years ago

I had no idea that playing chess could help you read people. It’s good to know that good chess players can keep their cool and can adjust their strategy easily. It sounds important to be flexible when playing chess if that can help you win more matches.

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