Decoding the Dilemma: What to Do When You Can’t Decide What Move to Play in Chess


Chess is a game of infinite possibilities, where each move can significantly impact the outcome of the game. As players progress and face more complex positions, they often find themselves in a dilemma: being unable to decide on the next move. This moment of uncertainty can be frustrating, but it also presents an opportunity to improve decision-making skills and cultivate a deeper understanding of the game. In this article, we will explore some strategies to overcome this common challenge and make informed choices when you can’t decide what move to play.

Evaluate the position. When you encounter a difficult decision in chess, take a step back and assess the overall position. Consider the strengths and weaknesses of both your own and your opponent’s position. Analyze the placement of pieces, pawn structure, and potential threats. By evaluating the position, you can gain a better understanding of the key factors that should influence your decision-making process.

Identify candidate moves. Instead of searching for the perfect move, focus on generating a list of candidate moves. Start by considering all the reasonable options available to you. This initial brainstorming process will help you expand your thinking and consider different strategic possibilities. It is crucial not to dismiss any move prematurely during this stage. Every move should be carefully analyzed and evaluated before making a decision.

Calculate variations. Once you have identified a list of potential moves, it’s time to calculate variations. Calculate the consequences of each move, imagining possible responses from your opponent. Consider the resulting positions, tactical opportunities, and potential threats. This analytical process will narrow down your choices by eliminating moves that lead to unfavorable outcomes or expose your position to unnecessary risks.

Trust your intuition. While analytical thinking is essential in chess, intuition also plays a vital role. After considering the objective aspects of the position and calculating variations, trust your gut feeling. Sometimes, your subconscious mind can detect patterns or strategic ideas that are not immediately apparent. If a move feels right to you, even if you can’t fully explain why, it may be worth considering and exploring further.

Seek inspiration from grandmasters. One effective way to improve decision-making in chess is to study games played by grandmasters. Analyze their moves and try to understand their reasoning behind each decision. By examining their thought processes, you can learn from their experiences and incorporate their strategies into your own game. This exposure to high-level chess will expand your tactical and positional knowledge, making it easier to find solutions when you’re stuck in a difficult position.

Practice patience and discipline. When faced with a difficult decision, it’s essential to remain patient and disciplined. Avoid making a move just for the sake of making one or succumbing to impulsive decisions. Take your time, reevaluate the position, and reassess your candidate moves. Sometimes, stepping away from the board and returning with a fresh perspective can help you see the position more clearly.

Analyze your decision-making process. After the game, whether it was a success or not, take the opportunity to analyze your decision-making process. Identify the moves where you faced difficulties and try to understand the reasons behind your uncertainties. By reflecting on your thought process, you can identify any recurring patterns, biases, or weaknesses that hinder your decision-making ability. This self-reflection will help you improve and make better decisions in future games.


In the complex and intricate world of chess, indecision is an inevitable part of the game. However, by employing strategies such as evaluating the position, identifying candidate moves, calculating variations, trusting your intuition, studying grandmaster games, practicing patience and discipline, and analyzing your decision-making process, you can overcome the dilemma of being unsure about your next move.

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