By Bill Wall


Epigrams are terse, witty sayings that sometimes have a meaning or moral. Chess has an abundance of epigrams from famous people and famous chess players. Here are a few examples of chess epigrams.


"Chess is a good mistress but a bad master." - Gerald Abrahams (1907-1980)


"In chess there is a world of intellectual values." - Gerald Abrahams (1907-1980)


"Chess will always be the master of us all." - Alexander Alekhine (1892-1946)


“Nowadays, when you’re not a grandmaster at 14, you can forget about it.” – Viswanathan Anand (1969- )


"Of all the drugs in the world, chess must be the most permanently pleasurable." – Assaic – Heinrich Fraenkel (1897-1986)


"In chess, just as in life, today's bliss may be tomorrow's poison." - Assaic – Heinrich Fraenkel (1897-1986)


"To have a knight planted in your game at K6 is worse than a rusty nail in your knee." - Efim Bogoljubow (1889-1952)


"Chess is the art of analysis." - Mikhail Botvinnik (1911-1995)


"Chess is the art which expresses the science of logic." - Mikhail Botvinnik (1911-1995)


"The essence of chess is thinking about what chess is." - David Bronstein (1924-2006)


"Life is too short for chess." - Character from Henry J. Byron's play "Our Boys"


"The good player is always lucky." - Jose Capablanca (1888-1942)


“In chess, as played by a good player, logic and imagination must go hand in hand, compensating each other.” - Jose Capablanca (1888-1942)


“Self-confidence is very important.  If you don’t think you can win, you will take cowardly decisions in the crucial moments, out of sheer respect for your opponent…It is better to overestimate your prospects than underestimate them.”  - Magnus Carlsen (1990 - )



"Chess is not for the timid." - Irving Chernev (1900-1981)


“Even a poor plan is better than no plan at all.”  Mikhail Chigorin (1850-1908)


"Chess players are madmen of a certain quality, the way the artist is supposed to be, and isn't, in general." - Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968)


"Not all artists may be chess players, but all chess players are artists." - Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968)


"I am still a victim of chess. It has all the beauty of art - and much more. It cannot be commercialized. Chess is much purer than art in its social position." - Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968)


"Chess is a sport.  A violent sport." - Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968)


"Chess holds its master in its own bonds, shaking the mind and brain so that the inner freedom of the very strongest must suffer." - Alburt Einstein (1879-1955)


“Chess is a sport.  The main object in the game of chess remains the achievement of victory.”  - Max Euwe (1901-1981)


"A man that will take back a move at chess will pick a pocket." - Richard Fenton (1837-1916)


“I’d rather have a pawn than a finger.” – Reuben Fine (1914-1993)


"You can only get good at chess if you love the game." - Bobby Fischer (1943-2008)


"I like to make them squirm." - Bobby Fischer (1943-2008)


"If I win, I'm a genius. If I don't, I'm not." - Bobby Fischer (1943-2008)


"Chess is life." - Bobby Fischer (1943-2008)


"Life is a kind of chess, with struggle, competition, good and ill events." - Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)


"You cannot play chess if you are kind-hearted." - French proverb


"Chess is the touchstone of intellect." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832)


"Excellence at chess is one mark of a scheming mind." - Sherlock Holmes


“Those who say they understand chess, understand nothing.” – Robert Huebner (1948- )


"Chess is a sea in which a gnat may drink and an elephant may bathe." - Indian Proverb


"Chess is everything: art, science, and sport." - Anatoly Karpov (1951- )


“Chess is mental torture.” – Garry Kasparov (1963- )


"Chess is a test of wills." - Paul Keres (1916-1975)


"Chess is a cure for headaches." - John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946)


“Every time I win a tournament, I have to think there is something wrong with modern chess.” – Viktor Korchnoi (1931 - )


“It’s difficult to imagine another kind of sport where a woman can beat a man.  That’s why I like chess.” – Alexandra Kosteniuk (1984- )


“It is rightly said that the most difficult thing in chess is winning a won position.”  -  Vladimir Kramnik (1975- )


"I often play a move I know how to refute." - Bent Larsen (1935-2010)


"On the chessboard lies and hypocrisy do not survive long." - Emanuel Lasker (1868-1941)


“In chess, as it played by masters, chance is practically eliminated.”  -  Emanuel Lasker (1868-1941)


"Chess is only a recreation and not an occupation." - Vladimir Lenin (1870-1924)


"The hardest part of chess is winning a won game." - Frank Marshall (1877-1944)


"Never make a good move too soon." - James Mason (1849-1905)


"It is impossible to win gracefully at chess." - Alan Milne (1882-1956)


"Help your pieces so they can help you." - Paul Morphy (1837-1884)


"Chess is eminently and emphatically the philosopher’s game." - Paul Morphy (1837-1884)


“Of chess it has been said that life is not long enough for it, but that is the fault of life, not chess.”  - William Napier


"The isolated pawn casts gloom over the entire chessboard." - Aaron Nimzovich (1886-1935)


"The loser is always at fault." - Vasily Panov (1906-1973)


"Chess is the gymnasium of the mind." - Blaise Pascal (1623-1662)


"The pawn is the soul of chess." - Francois-Andre Danican Philidor (1726-1795)


“The only thing chess players have in common is chess.”  - Lodewijk Prins (1913-1999)


"Pawn endings are to chess what putting is to golf." - Cecil Purdy (1906-1979)


“Although you may lead a student to chess, you can’t make him think.”  - Tim Redman (1950 - )


"Chess is beautiful enough to waste your life for." - Hans Ree (1944- )


"Chess is a fighting game which is purely intellectual and includes chance." - Richard Reti (1889-1929)


"The Queen's Gambit is like a piece of dead fish kept overlong on ice." - Tony Santasiere (1904-1977)


"Chess is a foolish expedient for making idle people believe they are doing something very clever, when they are only wasting their time." - George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)


"Chess is ruthless: you've got to be prepared to kill people." - Nigel Short (1965- )


"Chess is a cold bath for the mind." - Sir John Simon (1873-1954)


"Chess is a game of bad moves." - Andrew Soltis (1947- )


“We were like bishops of opposite color.”  - Boris Spassky (1937- ) about his ex-wife


“The beauty of a game of chess is usually assessed according to the sacrifices it contains.”  Rudolph Spielmann (1883-1942)


"Only the player with the initiative has the right to attack." - William Steinitz (1836-1900)


“Chess is so inspiring that I do not believe a good player is capable of having an evil thought during the game.”  William Steinitz (1836-1900)


“There are two types of sacrifices: correct ones, and mine.” – Mikhail Tal (1936-1992)


"Between the opening and endgame the gods have placed the middlegame." - Siegbert Tarrasch (1862-1934)


"Chess, like love, like music, has the powers to make men happy." - Siegbert Tarrasch (1862-1934)


"When you don't know what to do, wait for you opponent to get an idea; it is sure to be bad." - Siegbert Tarrasch (1862-1934)


"White lost because he failed to remember the right continuation and had to think up the moves himself." - Siegbert Tarrasch (1862-1934)


"All chessplayers should have a hobby." - Savielly Tartakower (1887-1956)


"Tactics is knowing what to do when there is something to do; strategey is knowing what to do when there is nothing to do." - Savielly Tartakower (1887-1956)


"The blunders are all there, waiting to be made." - Savielly Tartakower (1887-1956)


"The winner of a game is the one who has made the next to last blunder." - Savielly Tartakower (1887-1956)


"It is always better to sacrifice your opponent's men." - Savielly Tartakower (1887-1956)


"Chess is 99 percent tactics." - Richard Teichmann (1868-1925)


"Chess is a game which reflects most honor on human wit." - Voltaire (1694-1778)


"There is no remorse like a remorse of chess. It is a curse upon man. There is no happiness in chess." - H.G. Wells (1886-1946)