Simple Tricks to Stay Calm During a Chess Tournament

April 22, 2020

There is more to winning a chess tournament than protecting your king and staying hydrated. For you to analyze your opponent’s moves and make strategic moves, you need to be at your optimal state of mind. It is common for players to feel excited and anxious before and during the competition.

Even after rigorous training sessions, some people still find it challenging to stay calm during the tournament. But how is it possible that you can perform poorly during the tournament than you did during practice?

Chess is a complex game. Your victory will be a culmination of many factors; some can be trained (like strategies and tactics), but you have to deal with (like calming your mind during the game).

One thing that chess players need to understand is that chess is learned in school and at home. At the board, there is no learning, just competition. One way to ensure you are calm during the tournament is to drink enough water many hours before the tournament. This ensures that you do not need to drink water during the tournament or request frequent bathroom breaks.

Below are a few more tips to stay calm and ace the game:

Stay Confident and Lose the Pressure

If you think you can beat your opponent, you will remain calm and strategize your moves. To do that, you need to have confidence in your abilities. You also have to trust your instincts and understand that the training you have gone through qualifies you to win against strong opponents. The easiest way to enhance your confidence is by studying and training. When you do all the work before the competition, you are assured that you have the tools and the moves necessary to beat your opponent.

Even when the pressure to win is so much, you still need to stay calm and trust in your abilities. Irrespective of the direction the game is headed, you need to give your best. It helps to know that you gave your best even if the results of the game did not favor you. This way, you will be more prepared for the next game, and you will learn from your mistakes.

Play Your Opponent But Do Not Underestimate Them

At the board, you need to be flexible in your thinking and your approach to chess. For starters, study your opponent and the moves they make so you can exploit their weaknesses.

One of the mistakes that some chess players make is to underestimate their opponents. No matter the number of tournaments you have won, it is still advisable that you take every game as if it is the first game you have to win.

Take Controlled Risks and Avoid Predictability

The safety path will keep the game on for longer, but it has less reward. Your ability to take controlled risks might be your greatest asset against a competitor. As long as a risk presents a more significant problem to your opponent, it is worth considering.

Even as you assume risks, it is advisable to avoid being predictable. If there are many similarities in your moves in every game, you might lose very fast to your opponents. You also have to avoid other cues that give you away. For instance, your opponent might note that you always sip your water when you see a loophole in your strategy. Avoid that to keep them guessing. If you can deviate from your opening move and other moves, it shows that you are an expert in the game. To do that, you need to have at least three systems so your opponent will find it a challenge when preparing to face you at the board.

Keep a Positive Mind and Be Practical

You will run into trouble during the game. At some point, you will not be sure of a move, but that should not make you fret. Take your time, breath, and look for the best move. Do not let emotions clog your judgment while at the board.

Remember, you are not doing a math test or designing a new water softener system; this is just a game. You need to manage your time to ensure you make good decisions. All moves cannot be perfect, but they need to put your opponent in trouble and get you closer to winning.

Learn from your Mistakes

You will not always win. Sometimes you will lose, but the results of one game should not affect the next. Different opponents will present different challenges. As a player, you need to understand that to win a game even after losing in the previous game. Do not be negative because of a loss and do not fear to lose again.

 You need to reinvent your skills every day by fixing your weaknesses and enhancing your strengths. It takes a long time to master chess, but once you have done it, it is easier to come up with strategies and tactics.


Each game is unique; you face a new opponent with different tactics and strategies. Believing in yourself and staying calm during the game will help you beat any opponent. Your opponent will make a mistake, be ready to pounce.

September 2023