Play Chess Against A Computer (Yes or No?)


Table of Contents

Things to consider about playing chess against a computer:

  • The answer to the question is a resounding yes!
  • You need to be mindful of a few things like your playing style, opening preferences, and preferred middlegame positions.
  • Humans need to remember their emotions have an impact on how they play.

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The Art of Attack in Chess

Yes, You Should Play Chess Against A Computer

Humanity advances by making use of each technological invention somebody makes. Only a minority of people would prefer us to abandon cars and go back to using horse-drawn carriages or to give up smartphones in favor of telegrams.

Choosing to play chess against a computer is extremely helpful in improving your level of play in a shorter amount of time. The critical factor to remember is you are a human who will play against another human in a tournament or at your local chess club.

Striking a balance between playing chess against a computer and human opponents is obtained by staying mindful of your intention. What is your purpose behind playing chess against a computer?

Do you want to work on a specific area of the game? Are you wanting to learn the quickest way to deliver checkmate with two bishops? Setting a time limit and a goal for your training session is vital.

Let us look at how you can improve in each area of the game if you play chess against a computer.

Better Opening Preparation By Playing Chess Against A Computer

Every chess player soon learns not all openings are created equal. When you play chess against a computer, you will discover it considers the Queen’s Gambit Declined or Nimzo-Indian Defense better than the Modern Benoni.

Chess computers do not highly think of the Modern Benoni Defense. However, it is a defense against 1.d4 that provides Black with excellent winning chances.
Modern Benoni Defense: an opening chess engines don’t like.
When you play against a chess computer, choose openings you enjoy playing, even if the computer doesn't rate them highly.
Queen’s Gambit Declined: an opening chess engines rate highly.

The Queen’s Gambit Declined (on the left) is evaluated as +0.25, but the Modern Benoni Defense (on the right) scores +0.89-a difference of +0.75

Being aware of this means you won’t panic when the engine evaluates the position as better for white after the first few moves. You will know to ignore its suggestion to play 2…e6 followed by …d5 transposing to the Queen’s Gambit Declined.

The computer usually prefers 1.d4 or 1.e4 to 1.c4, yet the English Opening is played by many strong grandmasters. Choosing to play the English Opening or Reti Opening to reduce your theoretical workload makes good sense for a human with limited study time.

An excellent approach to opening preparation is entering a variation and playing a chess opening against a computer from the other side. 

For example, if you play the London System, you could enter an opening line and then play black against a chess computer to see the engine’s strategies.

Komodo Dragon 2 allows you to set the engine to play in a different style. There is the option for Komodo to play in an active, positional, or super-solid style. You could use this feature to make the chess engine play in a style similar to your own.

Improve Your Middlegame Playing Chess Against A Computer

The opening is important because it helps you reach middlegame positions that you enjoy playing. Before too long you will realize there are common themes that occur in the middlegame.

In order to improve your middlegame play you will need to become aware of the typical strategies and middlegame techniques used by stronger players.

Almost every chess player will find themselves deciding if Bxh7 is a mistake or a successful sacrifice. You accepted the Greek gift and ended up losing the game but is it because of Bxh7 or one of your later moves?

You can switch colors and play the moves your opponent played against you. Then you can compare how the chess engine defends the position. Did the engine play different moves?

If you found the best line and lost, then you can conclude Bxh7 was a good move. Playing the sacrifice in different positions against a chess computer will help you learn when to play it.

There are many other chess tactics apart from the Greek Gift and testing them against a computer will give you the confidence to play them in your games. 

One of the most helpful features of a chess engine is its ability to spot unusual moves.

In this position, the black queen attacks the bishop on g2 and the pawn on g3. The g3 pawn is also attacked by the black pawn on f4. You can defend the bishop with Bh1 and win back your pawn after …fxg3 with Bf4.

This variation is difficult to calculate since it only involves three moves. However, there is a much stronger move, and all it requires is you play against every human instinct.

The winning move in this position is Kf2!! After …f3, you expose your king even more with Kxf3! Would you believe that black is completely lost despite being only down a pawn?

Who wouldn’t sacrifice a pawn to get the white king into such an exposed position? Many chess players would say exposing the king like this is worth sacrificing a minor piece.

You can choose to play either side against a computer and learn how to attack or defend such a position. Try to hold the position with black and then switch sides. 

Look at the differences between your moves and the chess engine’s moves. The advantage of playing chess against a computer is you can quickly return to the starting position to try a different candidate move.

Learn Essential Endgame Techniques Playing Against A Chess Computer

Even if you follow the advice to play longer games instead of blitz, there will come a time when you are short on time in the endgame. How confident are you that you can checkmate an opponent in less than two minutes with only two bishops?

Once you learn the technique needed to checkmate with two bishops, you can play against a chess computer to practice delivering checkmate faster.

You have just promoted your pawn to a queen, but your opponent is about to promote his pawn. How do you stop him from promoting the pawn long enough for your king to help your queen? Can you do it with one minute on the clock?

What happens if you find yourself defending in a king and pawn versus king endgame with only a few seconds to finish the game? You might remember the critical squares and opposition rules of endgame play with enough time. 

You don’t have time to calculate or think deeply about the position with seconds left on the clock. You need to play instinctively, and one wrong move can cause you to lose the game.

When you play these endgame positions against a chess computer over and over, you will find yourself placing your king on the correct square without thought.

We have all entered an endgame up a pawn or even more and let the advantage slip away. No matter how strong a chess player you become mistakes will happen.

Playing through the endgames you didn’t convert against a chess computer will help you avoid making the same mistakes in the future.

The Chessable Movie Trainer: Learning Science and Technology Combine Flawlessly

When people think of playing against a chess computer, their first thought is a chess engine like Stockfish, Komodo, Houdini, etc. There is no doubt using them will help you improve many aspects of your game.

They rely on you to set up a position or enter Opening moves before providing feedback. The Chessable Movie Trainer combines the best learning techniques with text and quizzes to make learning interactive.

The CHessable Movirtrainer is an excellent example of how you can improve if you play against a chess computer.

Then to ensure you don’t forget what you learned, spaced repetition helps you with the perfect revision schedule. The length of time between reviews increases as you get better at remembering the course content.

Why not give it a try with one of the many high-quality courses covering almost every chess subject you can imagine?

Learn more about this fantastic software and the science behind it now!

Final Thoughts

There are many good reasons to play chess against a computer. A chess computer can help you play better chess provided you approach it with the right attitude, 

Always keep in mind the computer can often tell you which move to play but not why to play the move. You need to apply your understanding of chess principles to these suggestions.

Remember, unless there is a clear and easy win, it is best to stay away from positions you are not comfortable playing. Don’t play an opening line that leads to doubled pawns if you dislike pawn weaknesses, just because the chess computer thinks it is a better line.

When you switch on the silicone brain, keep your brain switched on as well. You will not lose a game if your chosen opening position is evaluated as 0.39 and the chess engine’s “improvement” is 0.59. In fact, you might lose the game by switching to the improved opening and playing positions you dislike. 

Playing clinical, precise chess is not worth it if you are not having fun. 

Play Chess Against A Computer: Frequently Asked Questions

Can I play chess against a computer?

Yes, you can play chess against a computer. Even better than knowing you can play chess against a computer is knowing you can do it for free! Stockfish is both a free chess engine and the strongest.

Should you play chess against a computer?

Playing against a chess computer can help you improve. Chess engines are extremely powerful, and you can learn a lot from playing against them. Also, it makes sense to make use of every resource available to you to improve your level of play.

How can playing against a computer benefit you?

Playing against a chess computer can help you find moves you missed during the game. Chess computers make excellent training partners when you are learning a specific technique. They don’t mind how often you return to the same starting position—for example, learning about critical squares or how to checkmate with two bishops.

Should you play against a computer while learning?

Yes, you should play against a computer while learning. Chess engines are always available to help you learn. They make excellent training partners if you want to learn how to play an opening or practice delivering checkmate with two bishops.

Why is the computer so good at chess?

There are two reasons why the computer is so good at chess. First, it can calculate much longer variations than a human. Secondly, the computer is totally objective. You might not choose a move because you dislike doubled-pawns or exposing your king, but the chess engine doesn’t care. 

What is the 20 40 40 rule in chess? 

The 20 40 40 rule in chess is a straightforward guideline for dividing your chess training time. This rule suggests you spend 20 percent of your time working on openings, 40 percent working on improving your middlegame skills, and 40 percent working on the endgame. 

For example, if you can study chess for ten hours a week, you will spend 2 hours on openings, 4 hours on middlegames, and 4 hours on endgames.

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100 Endgames You Must Know

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