These chess quotes come from professional chess players like Bobby Fischer, Hikaru Nakamura, and Garry Kasparov.
Author Allan Rufus once said that “Life is like a game of chess. To win you have to make a move. Knowing which move to make comes with insight and knowledge, and by learning the lessons that are accumulated along the way.” There is such a correlation between the game of chess and life that many other people have contributed chess quotes on the topic.
Just which chess player is known as the “King of Chess” though?
Well, some people might answer Bobby Fischer, the brilliant American chess player who challenged the Soviet reign and won, right at the pinnacle of the cold war. And he was an outstanding chess player and his time to shine aligned perfectly when America was looking for any win against the Soviets. Nowadays, though, most people regard Magnus Carlsen as the best player of all time.
Keep reading through these chess quotes to learn more about the game, including some quotes about the queen and other pieces.
Don’t forget to also check out our list of The Queen’s Gambit quotes for chess fans everywhere.
Chess quotes for when life feels like a strategy game
1. “Critical thinking is the most important factor with chess. As it is in life, you need to think before you make decisions.” — Hikaru Nakamura
2. “Life is a chess match. Every decision that you make has a consequence to it.” — P.K. Subban
3. “In life, as in chess, forethought wins.” — Charles Buxton
4. “Some people see life as a game of chess, while others prefer to see it as a game of cricket; but the longer I live, the more I think of it as a game of Consequences.” — Craig Brown
5. “The way you have to think in chess is good for everyday thinking, really, especially for brothers in the urban community who never take that second look, never take that second thought.” — Rza
6. “In chess, one cannot control everything. Sometimes a game takes an unexpected turn, in which beauty begins to emerge. Both players are always instrumental in this.” — Vladimir Kramnik
7. “Among a great many other things that chess teaches you is to control the initial excitement you feel when you see something that looks good. It trains you to think before grabbing and to think just as objectively when you’re in trouble.” — Stanley Kubrick
8. “Life is very much about making the best decisions you can. So I think chess is very valuable.” — Hikaru Nakamura
9. “I don’t play chess with my life, ya’ know.” — Russell Crowe
10. “Skill at helping people grow spiritually, like skill at playing chess, depends on understanding and valuing differences.” — John Ortberg
Chess quotes about the queen and other pieces
11. “Most gods throw dice, but Fate plays chess, and you don’t find out until too late that he’s been playing with two queens all along.” — Terry Pratchett
12. “My problem with chess was that all my pieces wanted to end the game as soon as possible.” — Dave Barry
13. “Chess can be described as the movement of pieces eating one another.” — Marcel Duchamp
14. “I feel as if I were a piece in a game of chess when my opponent says of it: That piece cannot be moved.” — Soren Kierkegaard
15. “Life is not always like chess. Just because you have the king surrounded, don’t think he is not capable of hurting you.” — Ron Livingston
16. “In chess, you have to bring all the pieces into the game. It is about development. In writing, you have to develop the story.” — Gza
17. “The pieces are connected to each other and the King and they are in this dynamic rhythm amongst themselves and with the opponent’s pieces, wherein lies their purpose. Each move is an attempt to change that balance and to establish a new, more favorable balance and that is why in chess (and in life) we are most vulnerable when we are most aggressive—the aggressive move essentially causes us to lose balance.” ― Roumen Bezergianov
18. “Once the game is over,” he says, “the king and the pawn go back in the same box. In life and death we are equal.” ― Lisa Renee Jones
19. “That’s easy, Alice,” he said. His amber eyes melted into hers. “It’s the first rule of chess: always protect your queen.” ― J.M. Sullivan
20. “People are like chess pieces!” ― Deyth Banger
Chess quotes from Bobby Fischer and other famous chess masters
21. “I am convinced, the way one plays chess always reflects the player’s personality. If something defines his character, then it will also define his way of playing.” ― Vladimir Kramnik
22. “I think chess players are not always what you think them to be. Or maybe it’s our job to appear serious.” ― Anish Giri
23. “In chess you try to do your best, but there are instances where you make mistakes or you try and take risks that you shouldn’t. And I think losing games is a good thing, because you learn more from when you lose than when you win.” ― Hikaru Nakamura
24. “Chess helps you to concentrate, improve your logic. It teaches you to play by the rules and take responsibility for your actions, how to problem solve in an uncertain environment.” ― Garry Kasparov
25. “All I want to do, ever, is play chess.” ― Bobby Fischer
26. “Chess is ruthless: you’ve got to be prepared to kill people.” ― Nigel Short
27. “I believe that true beauty of chess is more than enough to satisfy all possible demands.” ― Alexander Alekhine
28. “A woman can beat any man; it’s difficult to imagine another kind of sport where a woman can beat a man. That’s why I like chess.” ― Alexandra Kosteniuk
29. “I felt that chess… is a science in the form of a game… I consider myself a scientist. I wanted to be treated like a scientist.” ― Bobby Fischer
30. “I consider myself to be a genius who happens to play chess.” ― Bobby Fischer
31. “Chess and me, it’s hard to take them apart. It’s like my alter ego.” ― Bobby Fischer
Disparaging and funny chess quotes that will make you laugh
32. “Chess is mental torture.” ― Garry Kasparov
33. “Life’s too short for chess.” ― Henry James Byron
34. “Chess is not for timid souls.” ― Wilhelm Steinitz
35. “It’s a shame to be the face of chess and to play chess badly.” ― Alexandra Kosteniuk
36. “I failed to make the chess team because of my height.” ― Woody Allen
37. “I think there’s a misconception that chess players are all total nerds. Well, I guess they are.”― Daniel Naroditsky
38. “Chess enjoys a not wholly undeserved reputation for psychic derangement. It is an endeavor associated, when not with frank madness, with oddness and isolation. I remember a psychiatrist friend visiting me at a chess club in downtown Boston once. He walked in, sat down, looked around and said, ‘Jeez, I could run a group here.” ― Charles Krauthammer
39. “Chess is an easy game!” ― Deyth Banger
Chess quotes and phrases from GOATs in other fields comparing their talents or endeavors to chess
40. “Drawing is rather like playing chess: your mind races ahead of the moves that you eventually make.” ― David Hockney, painter
41. “These young guys are playing checkers. I’m out there playing chess.” ― Kobe Bryant, professional basketball player
42. “I am still a victim of chess. It has all the beauty of art – and much more. It cannot be commercialized. Chess is much purer than art in its social position.” ― Marcel Duchamp, French-American Painter
43. “Boxing is like chess. You encourage your opponent to make mistakes so you can capitalize on them. People think you get in the ring and see the red mist, but it’s not about aggression. Avoiding getting knocked out is tactical.” ― Nicola Adams, professional boxer
44. “These guys are playing checkers. I’m out here playing chess. When they figure it out, it’s too late.” ― Max Holloway, mixed martial artist
45. “Playing chess can make you a better poker player because it forces you to think several moves ahead. That kind of intense mental exercise develops a deeper level of thinking than is typically encountered when playing poker.” ― Daniel Negreanu, professional poker player
46. “Many leaders are tempted to lead like a chess master, striving to control every move, when they should be leading like gardeners, creating and maintaining a viable ecosystem in which the organization operates.” ― Stanley A. McChrystal, Army General
47. “I grew up with plenty of smart people. They would beat me at chess; they could solve brain teasers before I could, but then they would struggle in algebra. These were incredibly smart people who simply did not have the foundation in math that I had.” ― Sal Khan, educator
48. “The ability to get ahead in an organization is simply another talent, like the ability to play chess, paint pictures, do coronary bypass operations, or pick pockets.” ― Robert Shea, novelist
49. “In both games, you have to think fast. In chess you tend to know all the patterns already, just like in football.” ― Edgar Davids, professional “footballer”
50. “Fighting Manny Pacquiao is like playing a very fast game of chess. He was very fast and sharp. You have to be alert at all times and on your toes. There was a lot of incoming.” ― Jessie Vargas, professional boxer
What did you learn from these chess quotes and sayings?
For a game that appears complicated, the rules and the objective are quite simple. Two players sit opposite each other and the game is played on a checkered board. One player uses white pieces and the opponent uses black ones.
The goal is to corner your opponent’s king until he can no longer evade capture. The complicated part is that each piece has different movement rules, and impacts the game differently, especially the queen!
Now, there might be times during the game where you could capture your opponent’s king on the next move. This is called “check” and then they must move their king out of danger (or move a different piece in front of their king, blocking your attack). However, when they cannot escape, then you say “checkmate,” and the game is over.
People say it is like life because the best players are those who think a few steps ahead, and anticipate what will happen as a result of their moves. Every action has a consequence, and a chess player is always thinking of which option will play out the best in the long run.
I learned how to play chess in middle school from my science teacher, and it is still a fond memory all these years later. I found out that my father, who I didn’t see for 13 years of my childhood, was also a very good chess player. The first birthday gift I bought my would-be husband was a glass chessboard, which we still have and play, nearly 20 years later.
What did you learn from these chess quotes and sayings? What fond memories or fun facts do you have about chess? Let us know in the comment section below.
August 5, 2021 7:00 AM EST