Online Chess vs. Over The Board Chess

Online chess is fun. Online chess is cool. Online chess is easy to play. But have you ever think about how much time do you spend playing online chess and later wondering why are you not doing well over the board, at real “wooden” chess (or may you be using plastic USCF chess set) somewhere on the Atlantic Open with standard time control? While playing online most people most commonly play so-called quick chess, with time control 10 or 15 minutes for game or even shorter. This kind of chess has NO REAL VALUE for improving your standard time control chess.

Think about it. When online players come to the “real world” chess tournament with their online opening repertoire they are usually get crashed right out of the opening. You ask why? They’re getting used to playing quick chess, so they do not pay much attention to their opening, because in 10 minutes it is very hard to exploit their mistakes if you not a master of course. However, in standard time control over the board chess, players have plenty of time to think why that knight is badly placed in the corner and why is that isolated pawn is a weak part of the opponent’s defense. In fact they will exploit both these weaknesses and somebody will have very tough time defending it. In 10 minute chess pawn weaknesses or bad placement of a piece is no big deal, since if opponent is going to even try to think about all that he will flag out first and lose on time. Even if you’re a piece down in G10 (10 minutes per game), you have high chances to even win the game. If you’re a piece down in G120, you are in deep trouble.

The other factor that makes online chess very different from real world chess is psychological factor. When someone plays online chess he can sit or even lie down in front of the laptop in pajamas, turn the music on and play chess. He does not know how his opponent looks, who he is and how he reacts on each move. The player only sees that little chess board on the screen and an empty chat box below. Now imagine different picture, a chess player seats in a playing hall with hundreds (!) of other players and the opponent right in front of the player who seems to do everything in his power to disturb our player, to make our player panic, to make our player scared and to finally lose the game. Yes it happens all the time. Opponents like to click with a pen, walk around like sharks, clear their throat when opponent’s time is running out, stare at the opponent, hit the clock as hard as they can and so on. Players who play over the board chess do know how to deal with it, otherwise they will lose every single game even though they may be twice as strong as their opponents are. Like Judith Polar said “chess is 60% psychology” and it is very true for real chess.

The point is this: if you playing chess for fun and just love to play quick chess during your free time there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. But if you’re taking chess a bit more seriously and by playing quick online chess you want to learn to play better, especially over the board “long” chess, you should consider playing less online chess and dedicating more time for real studying.


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Updated 01.06.2024


Natasha Tallent:
The facial expressions and body language of your opponent adds a whole new facet to playing chess! Whether it's in quiet tournament hall, or trash-talkin' at the park blitz games, there is simply no substitute. I suspect we're entering a new era where OTB chess will become a rare thing, especially as the next generation of GM's influence tournament formats. Chess at the park is here to stay though! If you want to find an OTB Chess game in your area, have a look at this site I created!
Hello. I'm Jeff
Having grown up playing chess on a board I actually find it difficult to play online. Ignoring the fact that its 2-dimentional and in no-way tactile, I tend to stumble over basic plays. Making novice mistakes that I would never make in real-life. I think its because when you've grown up playing over a board you've learned how to drown everything out and focus on the game. But online chess doesn't inspire that same level of focus. There's no pressure, and that allows me to be lazy. And inspires lazy habits. But that might just be me.
Contrary my chess improved drastically because of playing online , I crush my opponents over the real board and people think am just a genius because they hv never seen me practising . While infact I do my practise online
David H:
There's other factor that i've noticed in real chess that doesn't happen in online chess, some times, novice players make illegal moves, the machine never let a player do an illegal move, so if they try to do so, the computer corrects them automatically, but over the board, you have to do it on your own, maby this is true only for plaers under 1000 elo, or arround that level, but still is something that begginers maybe should have in mind when choosing what tipe of chess to play
Magnus is also a genius and probably sponsored by chess base[/quote]No question of him being a genius.. it takes talent to be #1 in FIDE rating list:) Maybe he gets a discount for new chessbase products?
Magnus is also a genius and probably sponsored by chess base
I guess that's one of the characteristics of human's mind, we do well only what we get used to doing. If we only play chess on computer screen we cannot expect to perform well over the board. PS However, M. Carlsen claims that he never had that problem and does all his training on the computer in ChessBase.
Mike Springett:
Thats absolutely spot on!!! No wonder why I see tactics so well in online chess, compared to over the board!
Fixed. Thank you :-)
Diego Amicabile:
Very interesting article, but please spell "lose" right. It is "lose", not "loose" ;-)
:-x :cry: :P :-* 8) :D ;-) :-| :oops: :cry: :sad: :o :-? :-x :sigh: :roll:
wilson moses:
i want play with player
Good point. Now days there are a lot of dishonest chess players who use engines for "help".
Kareem Abdullah:
I totally agree. Another point against online chess is that you never know if you're playing against a person or a computer engine.
Well, online chess can improve your chess, but it must be long time control game ;)
Rahul Kumar Singh:
you are absolutely correct man.For fun,one can play online chess.But when it comes to improvement,then board chess is much more worthy as compared to online chess.