Can Learning Chess Improve Your Trading Skills?


The simple answer, yes it can!  One very important trait they both have in common is that once you make a move, you cannot predict the outcome of that move.  In chess, you can make your move, and have your next move planned, or even the next several moves planned, but you do not know how your opponent will react.  In trading, we make our move, we have our subsequent moves planned, but we do not know how the market will react.

Day traders are always looking for ways to hone and sharpen their mental skills.  On the surface chess, may seem like a game that would not have any relevance to day trading, but it is actually a strategic game that can hone your decision-making skills and strengthen your mental game.  This can lead to more consistent profits from your trading as your trading skills develop.  In this blog, I will explore several reasons why I believe that the game of chess can be a big asset to day traders.


Making Better Decisions

First and foremost, chess helps you improve your decision-making processes.  A solid chess player is analytical, and understands that with each of his moves, he will need to simultaneously reassess his position on the board, so he can take advantage of the opportunities that presents itself.  Each move will present the player with new data that he uses to determine his next move. Successful day traders are no different from this. Day trading, like chess, requires that you are steps ahead of your opponent, which in this case is the market.  They analyze each decision that they make in the market.  When a day trader is planning his trade, he is thinking about what his next move will be based on how he is predicting the way the market will react.  In both instances, you are planning an initial move, then planning subsequent moves based on a strategy and the predicted reaction from your opponent. While it is impossible to be right all the time, making decisions with the future in mind helps day traders plan to make decisions on trades when the market is behaving as predicted.


Coping With Uncertainty

Secondly, and this could be considered a spin-off of the first, is that chess helps day traders adapt to the uncertainty in the market.  In chess, you learn to accept the fact that despite having a 50 percent chance of being right, that other 50 percent can creep up and hurt a perfect play setup.  Now in day trading, we are searching for strategies that will give us better odds, which are closer to 70-30.  But, chess helps teach us we cannot control our opponents moves, but we can develop the skill to react accordingly.  This is a very important skill for day traders.  We need to handle and react to that 30 percent uncertainty that is inherent on our trading.  A day trader, like a chess player, needs to be able to handle these losses without losing focus on the game.

Chess skills emphasize strategic intelligence. Good chess players will constantly search for their own weaknesses in their decision making and chess moves; therefore, it makes them a good chess player. As a good and consistent day trader, you need to constantly look for where your strategy or trading ideas may be weak and find ways to strengthen.


Focusing On The End Game

Lastly, chess teaches you the importance of the end game.  Playing chess can also help you develop the focus you need as a day trader. It takes tremendous focus to win chess games because it is not just each move you make but the entire process of analyzing the board for potential moves. Day trading is very similar. It’s not just about trading the stocks, but learning to value each step in the process of making the trade.  With each trade a series of decisions must be made. To make sure you make these decisions efficiently and effectively, you must focus on the end of the trade, your strategical final objective of the trade. Traders who are skilled in strategy games like chess develop these strong focusing skills needed to be successful day traders. They learn to stay in the game and look at it through to the end, not just individual chess pieces. They focus on how their opponent is playing as well as themselves. In trading, your opponent is the market, and staying focused on the market allows you to better navigate and make decisions within it.


Final Thoughts

So, as you can see, a trader who plays chess correctly, can bring these skills to their trading.  Not only can chess can improve a day trader’s decision making and critical thinking skills, it can also help with managing the emotions inherent to trading.