Image by Balaji Malliswamy
  • Wendy Oliveras, MS

12 Lessons Chess Teaches You About Losing

Losing is a good way to win

Generally, the word “losing” means being deprived of or cease to have or retain something, including failing to win as in a sport or game. More particularly, it is no secret chess is an intellectual and logical game which mimics a battle of war between two minds. A winner emerges with a strong sense of victory, and the loser walks away feeling upset and inadequate. Naturally, the great feeling of winning boosts confidence and moral. The lessons inherent in losing in chess, facing life challenges, and handling business dilemmas are quite similar and relevant for success.


Whether you win or lose, playing chess reinforces a sense of confidence in your abilities. The ultimate lesson in losing is to accept the loss with grace and dignity and learn from your mistakes. Analyzing your opponent’s next moves and your strategic responses are essential tools to help build determination and resiliency. Chess subliminally emphasizes “losing” as another stepping stone towards achievement. In other words, without mistakes on or off the chess board, there cannot be a paved way towards success. Only you can determine what works for you and what does not.


Chess also helps you to focus and build your mind, which is necessary in all facets of life and business. For instance, if you lose at a game of chess it simply means you should work harder to improve your game, practice more, and learn from the mistakes you have made for future games. By analogy, in life, “losing” at something or not achieving a particular goal means you cannot give up. You need to assess what went wrong so improvements can be made. Obviously, if you ignore your mistakes and continue to pursue a path of self-imposed failure, then it is important to acknowledge more work still needs to be done. Similarly, in business, “losing” can be analogous to not closing a big deal, losing a major client, or losing customers due to a competitor’s aggressive tactics in your marketplace. Regardless of the reasons for losing, pick yourself up, learn from it, and keep moving.


How can we then lose at chess or anything else and still be able to walk away feeling empowered and motivated by the loss? The following are 12 suggested lessons chess teaches you about losing in life and business:

  1. You are unique and have special capabilities and abilities.

  2. Respect your opponent and lose with grace and dignity.

  3. Nothing is perfect. Keep trying and give your best.

  4. If something does not work out, create a new plan.

  5. Stay focused. Concentrate and anticipate new challenges ahead.

  6. Don’t give up on anything you strongly believe in.

  7. Don’t be afraid to set goals and make future moves.

  8. Accept your strengths and weaknesses. Know there is always room for improvement.

  9. Never stop learning and adopting new strategies.

  10. Be flexible. Enjoy and embrace change.

  11. Do not ignore repetitive patterns.

  12. It’s okay to lose as long as you don’t dwell on it and learn from your mistakes.