Holding the Cards

Games & Cards

Can You Play Chess Against Yourself?

Whether you can’t find an opponent or just can’t get enough of chess, you might be thinking of playing it by yourself. That freshly set up board is calling you to make some moves. But can you?

Yes! You definitely can. Of course, it won’t be the same as playing against another person or a computer. So, whether you’ll want to play chess by yourself depends on what you want to get out of it.

If you just want to have fun, then try it out and see if you enjoy it. If you only want to do it if it will help your game, you’ll also have to try it out and decide if it helps.

How to Play Chess Against Yourself

If you’re having fun with it, there’s probably no wrong way. But if you want to be a bit more structured, I recommend using it to explore different openings.

For example, do you and your opponents usually open with e4? Playing against yourself is a great way to explore different lines from both White and Black’s perspectives. You could start really broad by responding with the following moves (in separate games):

  • e5
  • c5
  • d5
  • e6 followed by d5 for Black’s next turn
  • c6 followed by d5 for Black’s next turn
  • d6

After that, you can narrow it down more by playing common variations from each response and getting familiar with the textbook moves.

Playing through variations like this will allow you to see which lines you feel more comfortable with. The same process can be carried out with any other opening.

Does Playing By Yourself Help You Get Better?

I don’t know if this can be answered with certainly, but it seems like it could if it’s done with thought and purpose.

Whether exploring different openings by yourself is superior to trying them against a human or computer opponent is probably doubtful, but sometimes we want a change. Spending time thinking about chess in this manner when you’re not playing against someone sure doesn’t seem like it would hurt.

Scroll to top