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Chess Quotes About The Ancient Game That Mimics Life

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.

If you like this article, we suggest you explore our most popular quotes article, a list of short inspirational quotes for daily encouragement. 

Read more related content on our inspirational quotes category page.

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

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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

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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

Powerful chess quotes to think about

51. “I have come to the personal conclusion that while all artists are not chess players, all chess players are artists.” – Marcel Duchamp

52. “Unlike other games in which lucre is the end and aim, [chess] recommends itself to the wise by the fact that its mimic battles are fought for no prize but honor. It is eminently and emphatically the philosopher’s game.” – Paul Morphy

53. “Chess is the struggle against the error.” – Johannes Zukertort

54. “Every chess master was once a beginner.” – Irving Chernev

55. “Avoid the crowd. Do your own thinking independently. Be the chess player, not the chess piece.” – Ralph Charell

56. “Chess is the gymnasium of the mind.” – Blaise Pascal

57. “Chess holds its master in its own bonds, shackling the mind and brain so that the inner freedom of the very strongest must suffer.” – Albert Einstein

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58. “Chess is a war over the board. The object is to crush the opponent’s mind.” – Bobby Fischer

59. “Chess doesn’t drive people mad, it keeps mad people sane.” – Bill Hartston

60. “Chess, like love, like music, has the power to make men happy.” – Siegbert Tarrasch

Chess Quotes That Make You Want To Learn To Play

61. “When you play chess the idea is to make good moves, not quick ones!” — Jeremy Silman

62. “Chess is not a game for dictators for numerous reasons. One, it’s transparent. It’s all information hundred percent available.” — Garry Kasparov

63. “I never read a [chess] book until I was already a master.” — Reuben Fine

64. “I always loved complexity. With chess, one creates beautiful problems.” — Marcel Duchamp

65. “Really deep opening research has been a hallmark of [Garry] Kasparov’s domination of world chess. He does not just try to find new moves, but whole new plans and strategies.” — Graham Burgess

66. “When Max Euwe of the Netherlands won the world title in 1935 and kept going in a glorious career, that country became a beehive of chess and it still is.” — Robert Byrne

67. “Pawn endings are to chess what putting is to golf.” — Cecil Purdy

68. “Chess is a game by its form, an art by its content and a science by the difficulty of gaining mastery in it.” — Tigran Petrosian

69. “Amberley excelled at chess—one mark, Watson, of a scheming mind.” — Arthur Conan Doyle

70. “We learn by chess the habit of not being discouraged by present bad appearances in the state of our affairs, the habit of hoping for a favorable change, and that of persevering in the search of resources.” — Benjamin Franklin

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.

Danielle Dahl, Lead Contributor
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