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Joe Cianciotto – Things to Know Before You Learn To Play Chess

At the start of this lockdown I wanted to do something with my time, to learn something new that I could look back and say ‘that’s what I did’. I decided then to take my very good friend Joe Cianciotto up on his offer to teach me how to play chess, something which he had been offering to teach me for a very long time. Joe was a great teacher, very calm and explained everything in a great way that helped me to get the grips of the game pretty quickly.

I wanted to write this to first of all encourage anyone out there who wants to play to go ahead and give it a go, and also to offer some insights as to what you should know before you play.

Smart and Stupid

I can honestly say that there is no game that I have played before which is like chess. There are many meanings to this but what I am generally referring to is winning and losing. When you lose at chess you genuinely feel so stupid that you missed a move, or that you missed the plot against you until it is too late. Conversely, when you win a game of chess, which I have managed to do on a couple of occasions, you feel like the smartest person in the room and it gives you such a buzz. This I guess is why so many people love the game.

Losing Sucks

Unless you are playing against someone who is also just starting out, you are going to have to lose a huge number of games before you win, and that can be pretty darn frustrating. In fact during the learning process I didn’t win a game until number 43 and that was so painstaking. You may pick it up quicker then I did, but either way it is highly likely that you are going to have to learn to lose, a lot, before you can start winning some games.


I was lucky to have Joe guiding me and for any of you who are not going to have a teacher, I would recommend that you get to know the basic opening principles of chess. These basic principles are absolutely great for when you are learning because they give you something that you can focus on and something to guide you. If you have a look online at the basic opening principles, they are very easy to understand and they are very easy to implement. This is not a surefire way that you are going to win of course, there are none of those, but at the very least it will give you a rule of thumb to follow which will keep you on the right track for when you are playing, against anyone.

Keep these points in mind and you are going to get on just fine, it is tough, but it is absolutely worthwhile.

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