Why Are Russians So Good At Chess? (9 Reasons Why)

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Jean Richardson

Jean Richardson is a lover of knowledge, in all forms. He has spent over 15 years as a high school teacher, instructing students in history, geography, mathematics, and more.

It’s a well-known fact that Russia is a major player in the chess world. In fact, some of the best players in the world were born and raised there.

If you want to learn more about why Russians are so good at chess, you’ve come to the right place. Read on to find out what makes Russian chess players so special.

Why Are Russians So Good At Chess?

1. More Than A Game

Chess has been around for a long time. While it’s an incredibly fun pass time, it’s more than just a game.

To win a game of chess, you need to be able to predict what your opponent will do before they do. In chess, strategy is everything.

A similar principle can also apply to real life. If you can figure out what the person in front of you will do next, you can avoid a lot of heartache and anguish.

Therefore, during the USSR era, chess was a way for people to hone their strategizing skills. So, the more they played, the more their skills improved, which meant a rise in social status as well.

2. Fun Pastime

We all have different definitions of what fun can be. Russians, however, mainly associate fun with chess.

Chess can be very complex and tedious, but it’s entertaining. Most Russian chess players don’t just compete for fame. They compete because they genuinely enjoy the game.

To them, it becomes an opportunity to lose themselves in a game that requires skill and finesse. Even their practice sessions are likely to go on for longer hours because they simply lose track of time.

Another important factor is that chess is an affordable form of entertainment. All you need is a set and you can play for as long as you like.

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3. Early Start

Sometimes, the phrase ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks isn’t always true. However, it is for this game.

As a general rule, the sooner you start learning anything, the easier it becomes for your brain to adapt. Yet, chess involves many moving parts and countless possibilities.

Your brain needs to be able to process information quite fast and make predictions. This is why it’s taught early on in life as a way to develop academic skills.

As a result, most Russians grow up having learned chess at school, just like any other subject. Having that headstart definitely gives them an edge over other players

4. Massive Resources

Even though playing a game of chess costs almost no money, mastering the game is expensive. You need to dedicate long hours to learn and master new strategies and techniques.

To get around this issue, Russia set up an organization called the Chess Federation. This organization provides both financial aid and hands-on help to chess players.

Thus, as an aspiring Russian chess player, all you have to worry about is putting in hours of practice to improve your skills.

With this government support, more people are now showing interest in chess. It’s becoming mroe and more popular, which makes finding a gifted player much more likely.

5. Icy Winters

Icy Winters

If you’ve ever been to Russia, you know how cold the winters can be. As soon as the sun disappears, it feels like the whole world frosts over.

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Moreover, the nights are long, dark, making it difficult to navigate the icy streets. So, people just hunker down at home.

This gave them the perfect excuse to perfect their skills because once you got home, there was nothing to do but practice.

6. Plenty Of Practice

To improve at anything, you have to put in hours and hours of practice. This can be a little tricky with chess because you can’t play alone.

You need to try your hand against a variety of talented players to help you learn new moves and figure out how to win.

Luckily, in Russia, finding talented players is easy. All you have to do is visit one of its many chess parks to find other people who want to play.

You don’t even have to bring your own chess board. Each table has one built in for maximum convenience..

7. Amazing Rewards

In Russia, having fun isn’t the only upside to playing chess. You can also win some pretty incredible rewards.

There are countless chess tournaments taking place year-round all over Russia. This means there are plenty of opportunities to show off your skills.

Therefore, you get to improve and practice your skills and even win a prize.

Each tournament offers a different prize for the top three players. These rewards range from small trinkets to massive cash prizes that sometimes come to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Whether you’re a good chess player or bad, this definitely makes playing chess a lucrative sport.

8. Public Fame

Another great upside to being a Russian chess player is that it comes with fame.

Chess to Russians is sort of like football to Americans. It’s a major part of their culture. Even the players are household names.

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When you prove that you’re skilled at chess, you quickly rise to the top. This means getting special treatment, exaclty like a local celebrity.

This prospect attracts many new players to the game every year.

9. Political Significance

Aside from social standing, chess also plays a minor role in Russia’s political climate.

Many of Russia’s most prominent figures excel at playing this mastermind board game. This emphasizes how influential the game can be.

For example, Garry Kasparov, one of the world’s best chess players, is an avid activist. He’s incredibly vocal and transparent about his views of his government.

This leads many young Russians to correlate chess with power and intellect. Not only that, but his honesty made many people want to follow in his footsteps.

To learn more, you can also read our posts on why chess is so boring, why chess is not in the Olympics, and why Russia is so evil.


Why are Russians so good at chess? There’s more to one answer to this question. Though, it comes down to starting at a young age and a whole lot of practice.

More than that, many Russians correlate chess with status, power, and intellect. As a result, it’s become more than just a game in Russia; it’s become a way of life.


  • Jean Richardson

    Jean Richardson is a lover of knowledge, in all forms. He has spent over 15 years as a high school teacher, instructing students in history, geography, mathematics, and more.

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