How to handle your nerves in chess

It may not seem like it, but chess is a highly competitive game, in line with some of the most competitive games in existence. In fact, it’s been shown that the brains of two high-level chess players spend a big number of calories if they are playing a tight game. You wouldn’t expect to witness this in two persons that seemingly just sit still. But the game of chess is nothing to joke about, as it takes a great level of skill and of clarity of mind for you to excel on tournament day.

Again – many people think that going on a chess competition is somewhat of a joke. But this is far from being true – the fact is that chess players can be under tremendous stress before and during competition day. So, if you find that you’re having butterflies in your stomach on competition day, what should you do?

chess nerves

It is normal to have nerves

The first most important thing for you to do is to realize that it’s completely normal for you to feel this way. After all, this isn’t some fun match that you can play with your friend in a secluded atmosphere. This time you’re really playing to win and your opponent will be a trained chess player willing to do the same. There are a lot of things at stake here, so it’s only natural for you to feel a bit agitated and off-center. But this is not a bad thing per se, as feeling the nerves will make you sharper, ready to face the challenge ahead of you. You will enter the game with an increased sense of focus and clarity, and you will play a better game than you ever had before.

But of course, the opposite could be true as well. You may be so overwhelmed by the nerves that you forget your own name – and it will be all the more difficult for you to remember and think of the chess moves that you need to make in the game. If this happens – then this is a problem, and it shows that you aren’t strong enough to get a grip on yourself while you’re competing. Again – this is not something that’s unique – and many people have the experience of being high-level chess players in casual chess games or games such as the canasta card game that they play with their friends. But as soon as they go on chess competition, everything falls apart and they play miserably.

Practice, practice, practice…

The best way to get through this hurdle is to practice. We don’t just mean for you to practice chess casually, but to practice going on chess competitions. The more you play chess in this way, the better you will get at the game, and you will find out that gradually you’re developing tolerance to the nerves that have gotten the better of you in previous chess tournaments.

Finally, a bit of meditation may very well be exactly what you need when it comes to calming your nerves down – so make sure that you practice the habit of mediation whenever you can. If you do all of these things – then you will master your emotions and you will have a great performance on chess competition day.