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Can Online Chess become an addiction?

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After I decided to quit gaming about a month ago I started to look for other things to fill my time. With the new hobby guide available at game quitters, I saw chess as an option and gave it a try. The problem is because of my particular circumstances I can't join a in-person chess club, and for that matter play over-the-board chess. All the chess games I have played are online, and I have noticed that I have grown to be very fond of the game, to the point where I can spend about 1 hr. and 15 min. playing chess per day. This of course can't be compared to the video game addiction I had (where in watching twitch streams and playing games I could spend up to 5 hours) and doesn't have the negative impact that also came from playing video games. But I do wonder if it still is an unhealthy addiction, and whether or not I should try and cut back on the time I invest in bettering my chess skills? What do you guys think?

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Each person reacts differently to different things. Some types of games are less addictive to some people than to other people.

If chess remains a small part of your life and is contained then it could be treated as an exception while you detox the rest of gaming

but if you find yourself playing longer and longer hours of chess and neglecting your health then it becomes a problem like other games.

Experiment and tell us the results.

54 minutes ago, NEXRAD said:

invest in bettering my chess skills

Personally, I don't see any value in chess as opposed to physical sports or exercise where you move around. Or as opposed to socializing at social clubs, charities, and parties (that we can't really do anyway until after pandemic but some of them still continue on Zoom). Or as opposed to studying any type of art from drawing to writing to dance to computer animation where you are involved in creation as opposed to chess which is just performance. Or as opposed to increasing your knowledge and intelligence by choosing to study math, religion, DIY woodworking or other skill-based or intelligence-based learning.

Sure if you're really good you could become a grandmaster get some money out of it, and maybe indirectly increase your intelligence in other fields (when you could just directly study those fields itself) but even then I still see it as useless.

Edited by Bird By Bird
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Chess can be ok but it can also be a problem - it's something you need to be careful with depending on how sensitive you are to gaming compulsions and also how much personal development you've made since you've stopped. Here's a video I have on it.


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Hey Cam,

I am very thankful for your video. It did help me to get more information to how to spend my free time. I have quitted gaming for 132 days, but still having urges. This is my second serious attempt at quitting gaming. The first time I failed because I slowly tricked meself that online chess was okay. I saw a lot of ads and rolled into an another "online" boardgame, and then rolled again into a mobile game, and eventually bought bigger games on mobile, like stardew, minecraft, and so on. 

As person I really love being challenged in complex strategy games. I really don't know how to replace that. I have tried coding, but I know that my patience is low, with coding I don't have the quick reward. I am fully aware of this. Still missing that piece of strategy.

Do you have tips? 

Thank you in advance,


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  • 1 month later...

I agree with what Cam has to say about Chess, it probably is riskier for many of us, especially at the start of our recovery/detox, because well... it's a game.  However, I must point out that working out also shouldn't be seen as holy "won't get addicted to this" this behavior either.  I've known some people who harmed themselves or caused harm for their loved ones to "reach that rep quota"; we can get addicted to that dopamine and endorphins you get with workouts.

I'm not an expert but I think addiction is that behavior that we just can't seem to stay away from or stop once your engaged in it despite the problems that it causes.  I know I'm vulnerable to this kind of behavioral pattern because of the generational abuse in my family (and maybe genetics from that same side of the family).  Whatever we do, however, whether it's going to the gym or playing chess, the key thing to be mindful of is our well-being: don't let that behavior or environment stop you from taking care of yourself and your loved ones.

Just look at Magnus Carlsen.  He currently the world chess champion in all categories he can participate in (Men's Classical, Blitz and Rapid FIDE World Championships).  He became world champion at the age of 19!  His peak FIDE ELO Rating is the highest we have ever seen by a human (bots are OP).  And you know what?  He's healthy as fuuuuuuuuuck.  He's got his people making sure he eats and exercises to enable peak performance.  And he's not the only one either.  Fabiano Caruana who challenged Magnus for the title in 2018 works out and plays tennis and goes on a diet to prepare for matches!  Sure, they're not Olympic level athletes but they have standards when it comes to health/fitness.  I don't know about you but personally, I find it amazing that the super-nerds I look up to eat their vegetables. xD

I am quitting video-games now because I constantly neglect my physical, mental and financial well-being to play them.  I played a bit of chess tonight, I studied some openings mostly... I can feel some craving to compete with my peers.  However, I wasn't super immersed in it, blinded or neglectful of the fact I was getting hungry and tired.  I managed to stop what I was doing, eat a meal before I came here.  If you (@NEXRAD) can control yourself, if chess doesn't stop you from doing what you need to get closer (or stay close) to your definition of well-being (a realistic one, I assume), then it's probably safe.  If you lose control, that's ok, I'm sure you're not the only one.  In that case, you will find something else and you will get better and understanding and seeing when you're about to fall into these patterns if you keep it trying, I'm sure.

Take care.

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