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  1. Forum
  2. General Chess Discussion
  3. At what rating was chess the most fun for you?

I know this may seem like a strange question, but did you enjoy chess more when you were a weaker player? Is ignorance bliss when it comes to chess enjoyment? After all, when you get to a certain skill level in chess, you have to deal with memorizing multiple openings and endgames, preparing for your opponent, and needless to say the sheer amount of calculatory "work" you need to do to grind out a win from your opponent. Of course there are also many pros to being a strong chess player such as the enjoyment of being able to outmaneuver your opponent in seemingly dead drawn endgames, or winning in spectacular style with scintillating sacrifices. For many people, the "work" is what makes chess fun, but does it really get more enjoyable with every rating point earned?

Very interesting question. Chess was most exciting from 1000-1500 ELO just because you can improve so rapidly and you feel somewhat limitless in your potential. From 1600+ you have to do significant studying regularly to see noticeable progress, and 1800+ it becomes more and more like homework and less like a game. But to quote John Bartholomew who was quoting someone else "Chess is a discipline, disguised as a game"

But when you have regular chess partners and you develop chemistry (I have a group that meets weekly to play OTB blitz) It can be a deeper sense of reward and meaning. The games become richer, psychology becomes an aspect, and the games will feel less random and chaotic and uncontrollable. For me it is still a lot of fun, and fun is important in chess. Your brain works better when you are passionate and interested.

The higher the rating I get, the more fun I have. The more I know, the more satisfaction and pleasure I get by watching a well played endgame, an awesome attack, and the more able I feel I can do that sort of stuff vaguely well.

That's a great question. For me it's been more fun the stronger I get, but I'm a crazyhouse player so things are obviously different for me. Theory is not required like it is for chess. There's no clear reason it would become less fun as a stronger player.

I more just wanted to say that it's a fascinating question and I'm glad you asked it than to contribute anything

First and Last and Always.

(I especially enjoy winning tournaments or "big game" wins, more that improving my rating. This year was my best ever although it wasn't my peak rating.)

I agree with #2, but for me this means i'm still having lots of fun while improving :)

Once we realize playing chess is a hobby (for 99.5% of us, excluding professionals) the better to understand that chess is a board game (and that's really all it is) and can be an enjoyed as a pastime.

It's a great question.We all eventually find a niche, a rating category. Unfortunately, too many quit when expectations of a master rating are not met. But then, they were not really playing for the enjoyment, only a misguided idea that rating points "proves" something or other (mostly related to being smarter) which is nonsense.

I've been playing 40+ years. Went through the stage of "the higher the rating" meant the more enjoyment. Once it is learned this is a false concept, one begins to understand the game as an enjoyable hobby.

Of course, the more games played and the necessary skills learned, the game takes on a richer complexity. There is much to be said regarding the appreciation of high quality games and the time invested to become a better player.

If the opponents get stronger as i get stronger, chess stays fun.

In that context: Hourly 1200+, 1800+, 2200+ tourns!

Well this is a very good question where I would love to state my opinion. I am IM, played for 2 years in the german Bundesliga on the 2nd board (including against Ivanchuk, Shirov, Vallejo Pons and Vachier Lagrave) and even if I have 'only' 2450 Elo I would still claim to understand chess a bit like the professionals do.
And there was indeed a certain switch in terms of enjoyment to chess. E.g. (I would love to post diagramms instead of variations to underline my point, but some variations have to suffice).

I am an opening specialists and there are some certain opening lines/positions which give the one side a certain advantage (like bishop pair) in exchange for structural damage. Here would be 2 of them:
a) 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.Bd3 b6(?!) 6.c3 c5 7.0-0 Ba6 and so on for black. Here black trades his bad bishop ealy but gives white an initiative. Objectivly speaking this is straight up bad for black, but to prove it white has to know some deep methods and a lot of chess understanding
b)1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e3 c5 5.Nf3 Nc6 6.Bd3 0-0 7.0-0 Bxc3 8.bxc3 d6 9.e4 e5 for black. Again- black gives up the bishop pair for doubled pawns and an endgame advantage. It is plain up easy game for black. It is easy to find the right moves. White should be objectivly better, but to understand, and moreover make this advantage usefull you need a high level of skill.
c)Any kind of isolated pawn stuctures for the defending side follows same reasoning

So given this few examples here is my answer to OP's question. When I was not as strong as I am today, when I could not face GM's and had not the deep understanding I have right now, I was happy to have so many great lines, where I could crush my even oponents ('even' might even mean up to 2200 Elo). I was wrong, or rather oblivious, since I did not understand the compensation in these kind of positions. Since I was never worried (I did not believe in my opponents position), and my opponent was not strong enough to prove it, I was very content playing and winning easily with black. It gave me a lot of joy to crush my opponents from the opening and thinking I had the game a lot of times in the bag before we reach move 20...
That was joy without doubt. But climbing higher I started to notice that my defenses have some breaches. Even if my opponents did not see what I saw, my perspective of these seemingly easy to win games changed. I started to play these positions from the other side, which I thought was just dumb and I started to improve. I got to find the winning strategies in positions I considered to be unplayable for the other side. And honestly, I am proud of myself to get over that breach. But at the same time, in terms of "joy", it is not easy going any more. Since know I know the problems of the positions (e.g. the mentioned), I would never get into them again as I would 5 years ago. Even if in practical game I would just wreck guys with Elo 2200 like I did before, I lack confidence. I would not bring myself to play something I consider to be bad. Beeing not oblivious robbed me the joy of crushing my opponents like I did in my youth!
Instead, I tend to try to win it 'the honest right way', that is playing the objectivly right side. I feel that is the right way to improve, and that is the reason why I get my chances to give a fight even with the likes of Ivanchuk, but what I get now is: instead of fighting for 2 results as I did in my youth (oblivious easy going way: if the oponent breaks I win, otherwise he might hold but I am never in danger of losing) to working hard on the other side, often not beeing able to find the needed strategy/move (just because I understand the compensation to an extent does not mean I master it), which results me in sometimes even struggling against the same minded guys like I was. If we pick the position a) e.g. once I happened not to find the solution over the board in the time I had , whereas my ('oblivious') opponent never believed there is one at all. We were both right, he won. I was clearly the better player, but that did not change the result. So in a certain way, once I got to my "professional" strength, I was proud of my strenght, but I lost quite a bit in terms of enjoyment...