Chess and Attention

Published in Chess - 1 min to read

I spent a lot of time lamenting my own attention span, having annihilated over the years by push notifications and instant gratification culture. I struggle to work for more than 10 minutes on something without succumbing to the alarmingly powerful urge to open reddit, Liquipedia or Twitter, and I really wish it weren’t that way, and I could tap into the fabled deep work flow state.

Except for the fact I can quite happily play a four hour chess league match and not check my phone once. My focus isn’t perfect; my thoughts wander, I look at the other games, maybe I go get another drink at some point. But even when I stop thinking about my position, it’s easy to bring my attention back to it, and I do just fine without any kind of technological distraction (unsurprisingly, it’s quite nice to turn my phone off for a few hours).

Concentrating at the chessboard is something I’ve practised for thousands of hours over the years, so naturally I can do it. It’s been good to remind myself though that there isn’t something inherently broken or wrong with me and my perceived short attention span; deep work is right there, if I really want it.