4 Exercises to Boost Chess Concentration

May 14, 2021

Chess is an excellent game of the mind which allows you to improve mental and cognitive functions. It’s also a game that demands full concentration.
Nevertheless, there are lots of chess players who occasionally find it difficult to concentrate during the game, leading to higher chances of miscalculations and eventual game loss.
Different forms of distractions could typically hinder you from maintaining concentration during a chess game.
Luckily, you could help the situation with some mental exercises aimed at strengthening your concentration levels.
The article highlights four quick-and-easy exercises which are sure to improve chess concentration in no time.


The simple game of Tic-Tac-Toe could steadily improve your chess concentration levels in several ways.
It addresses three core cognitive skills of tactics, observation, and strategy, and often features in fundamental training for other sports and games.
For a chess player, the best place to start improving concentration is in visualization.
The main idea is to visualize the actual playing board as you play chess, and players who get distracted from the chessboard are likely going to forget their strategized moves.
Tic-Tac-Toe can be a veritable exercise that enables you to memorize the chessboard better.
One common Tic-Tac-Toe routine you could try is playing the game blindfolded. A third person acts as the referee and records all the moves both of the players make.
You can use algebraic notations to represent each move and progress through the 4×4 and 5×5 layouts when necessary.

Follow the Clock

Follow the Clock is another exercise you can try out to boost your concentration levels in chess.
The exercise uses the analog clock as the subject of interest, and its ultimate goal is to help you keep concentration at a stretch.
You begin by following the second hand of the analog clock, without letting any thought enter your mind. You’d have to reset the timer if a random thought creeps into your mind.
Repeat the exercise every day for at least seven days. The effects of the exercise begin to show after a few weeks, and its improved focus levels benefit other activities as well.
You can play this game with friends or family at a backyard barbecue party.
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Walk the King

Walk the King is one other chess concentration exercise that you play blindfolded. Expectedly, it aims to build your visualization of the chessboard and concentrate on it.
The king sits in the middle of the board, and both players have to visualize before blindfold. Then, they take turns “walking” the king by switching its position.
The rules in the exercise would only permit vertical and horizontal moves.
The game begins with each one of the players making their moves, and a third observer ensuring that the king stays within the board boundaries.
You’d lose the game once the king is out of the board. When the game becomes too easy, you could introduce a few pawns on the board.
The pawns can’t move or get captured, and the player can’t place the king on a square occupied by a pawn.

The Black Dot

The Black Dot is an old meditational exercise popularly recognized to help you improve focus during a chess game.
It starts with you drawing out a black dot on a piece of paper and placing it parallel to your eye level. At first, you can see the dot without stress or strain to your eyes.
After a few minutes, you’ll “feel” the dot with your eyes. It’ll seem like you’re touching the dot with your eyes.
At that point, you’ve attained full concentration. You can continue the exercise daily for a minimum of one week.
While The Black Dot isn’t so much about sustaining concentration as Follow the Clock, it’s a recommendable exercise for building your concentration levels from scratch.

Wrapping Up

The ability to fully concentrate is the distinguishing factor between a regular chess player and a grandmaster.
However, you can’t acquire full concentration skills overnight, and building them from scratch can be difficult.
However, the exercises mentioned above could help the situation. They’re simple mental exercises that teach you how to achieve concentration and sustain it for a given length of time.

September 2023