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Awareness of Personality in Chess

Re-posted January 6th, 2017

Written by guest author Greg Delaney for Wholesale Chess.

It’s really not enough to simply know that a problem of any sort exists in any aspect of our lives. Awareness by itself will not solve a problem. This being said, a problem cannot be solved without it. Because of our “blind areas” as chess players, we may lack awareness of personality traits that cause our skills at chess to be less than they might otherwise be. Everyone has denial mechanisms – psychological methods by which we avoid painful thoughts and feelings – and this denial plays a role in being “unaware” of personality factors that hinder our chess development. Chess at any level is a very personal game. We place ourselves “on the line” during each game. Our knowledge, skills, stamina, intellect, and even our self-esteem are there for our opponents to see. Think about it: how many times have you made a weak move and then had your opponent look at you with a pitying smile before capturing an unprotected piece or setting up an unavoidable mate? How does that feel?

In order to preserve some dignity, we normally will find some reason “why” a mistake was made and “why” we lost the game. Of course, it wasn’t our “fault.” We didn’t sleep well the night before or we got frustrated by our opponent’s slow moves or there was a distracting noise in the club room or tournament hall. Most chess players I have met possess an arsenal of rationalizations for errors, blunders, and losses. We might have a hard time identifying the true source of the problem because it is hard to admit our weaknesses to ourselves, let alone to our opponents, other players, and chess coaches. This denial and rationalizing might provide us with some psychological and/or emotional comfort, but they constitute to a large extent the “blind areas” in our chess-playing.

I hope that I have made a strong case for how our own denial process and our “blind areas” serve to keep us “stuck” in our chess development. If we lack awareness of our problems at the chess board, it is doubtful that we will change them. After all, it is only after we find out there is a problem in our non-chess lives that we may be motivated to make some sort of change. I believe that honesty is truly the only real solution in these circumstances. We need to be able to acknowledge and accept the flaws, traits, and tendencies that recur in our games. And recur they do. As mentioned in previous articles, our unique personality traits emerge as we play a game of chess. If these traits are part of us, I think it’s reasonable to suggest that patterns of play – how we each individually play chess – can be recognized, examined, and changed. The resulting awareness becomes the first step to this change.

One of the themes I want to communicate is that how we approach the game of chess is likely quite similar to how we approach life in general. After all, the same personality traits, defense mechanisms, and problem-solving templates exist within us, whether we are playing chess or trying to decide on a financial plan for our retirement. If this is the case, and I believe it is, then closely examining our personality traits and tendencies whether we are playing chess or living life will be helpful in both areas. We can work to change these traits while studying chess, but we can also work on them in everyday life and expect some carry over to our chess playing as well. In the next article I will try to provide specific examples and to share change steps beyond our initial efforts at gaining awareness.

Greg Delaney is Life Member of USCF who returned to chess in 2005 after a three decade hiatus from the game he loves. He is an educator, club player, and student of IM Yelena Dembo. For fun, he blogs about chess and his work to improve as a player.

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily represent the views of Wholesale Chess.

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Refresher on Chess Wood Types

Updated November 21st, 2016

We're coming up on the holiday season pretty quickly, and some of you may be wondering what to get your favorite chess enthusiast. In addition to our usual gift ideas, we know that wooden chess sets are always a good idea. Because there are a lot of options available, we are going to once again briefly explain the differences in wood types you can get pieces, boards, and boxes for chess sets.

Pieces

Wood Chess Pieces are available in sheesham, ebonized hardwood, rosewood, ebony, or bud rosewood for the dark pieces. All sets come with boxwood for the light pieces.

Sheesham

Sheesham is a wood that resembles walnut in both color and grain. It is a natural brown with high density that makes it perfect for economical pieces. It is widely abundant in India.
French Sheesham Chess Pieces

Ebonized Hardwood

Ebonized hardwood is not the same as ebony - this is a lighter wood (usually boxwood) that has been lacquered to look black. It's still beautiful, but much more cost-effective for people on a budget.
Quality Ebonized Chess Pieces

Rosewood

Rosewood is a deep, reddish-brown wood with dark grain. It is elegant for chess pieces and also becoming increasingly rare as time goes by. In some lighting, these pieces can look extremely dark, but they always have a reddish hue.
Florentine Rosewood Chess Pieces

Ebony

Ebony is an extremely dense, dark wood. When polished, it looks deep black and is beautiful for carved chess pieces. Unfortunately, ebony does have a tendency toward cracking.
Nobility Ebony Chess Pieces

Bud Rosewood

Bud rosewood is the most rare of the chess piece woods, and it's worth every penny! This gorgeous wood is even more deeply grained and red-tinted than regular rosewood because it is taken from a specific part of a rosewood tree.
Columbian Bud Rosewood Chess Pieces

Boards

Our wood boards generally use maple or bird’s eye maple for light squares. Bird’s eye maple is a light wood with swirling grain spots that resemble eyes. The particular board shown below has alternating bird’s eye maple and ash burl squares for a very unique look. Ash burl has a distinctive and unusual grain.
Rich Brown Deluxe Board

Mahogany

Mahogany is a common, light wood with a very light grain and a reddish hue. It is perfect for when you don’t want your board to overpower your pieces.
Mahogany Wood Chess Board

Macassar

Macassar is a type of ebony from southeast Asia that has a straight grain with hints of a reddish tone that provides a rustic, elegant appearance.
Macassar Wood Chess Board

Wenge

Wenge is a dark, very straight-grained wood that provides almost an antique look straight from its natural appearance.
Wenge Wood Chess Board

Santos Palisander

Santos Palisander wood features an exotic, rich, and unusual grain.
Santos Palisander Wood Chess Board

How do I Care for My Wood Chess Set?

Simply put, treat your nice wood chess pieces as you would fine furniture. First, and above all, avoid leaving them in direct sunlight and keep them away from extreme levels of humidity. A nice chess box or bag will help keep the humidity away. Second, many fine wood chess pieces are finished with a nature wax polish that requires careful attention. Do not use harsh detergents to clean them – the wax doesn’t play well with solvent based cleaners. For a longer, polished look – keep your pieces away from dusty environments and use a clean dry cloth to wipe them clean after use.

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Chess Sets

Wholesale Chess is home to one of the best selections of chess sets on the web! We offer many different styles and types to choose from including club chess sets, tournament chess sets, wood sets, and even travel sets! Every set comes with the right pieces and board to fit your needs and many come in a variety of fun colors! Find your personal chess set right here at Wholesale Chess.

More than Just Chess Sets

Sure, our strength lies in chess sets, chess pieces, and other chess supplies ... but Wholesale Chess also offers a wide variety of classic games available at very low prices.

Why Buy From Wholesale Chess?

We do everything we can to offer you the best price possible. We also offer quantity discounts on many of our most popular items and ship for free to the contiguous US when your order total is $50 or greater.

We pride ourselves in offering an efficient and friendly shopping experience. Our customer service is second to none. Our customer reviews tell the story. We're serious about our customers! We stand behind the products we sell and want you to be completely happy with the items you purchase from us.