When I was first starting my own chess training I was introduced to the movie 'Searching for Bobby Fischer'. I recommend everyone who enjoys chess to watch this at some point. There are very few movies about chess and this one inspired me greatly.
In the movie Bruce Pandolfini tells the young Josh Waitzkin that Bobby Fischer held his opponents, and the world, in contempt. Bruce says Josh must also hold his opponents in contempt in order to reach greatness.
First: let's define contempt.
The feeling that a person or a thing is beneath consideration, worthless, or deserving scorn.
Did Bobby Fischer really view everyone in the world as worthless and unworthy? Many say this is true. But, the real question is: 'Should I also view others as worthless and beneath me in order to become the greatest chess player I can?'
The answer: absolutely not. Do not let your ambitions for great success in chess cloud your judgement of what is right and wrong. It is WRONG to hate others and to view yourself above them. I tried it myself as a child and I can tell you from experience it only leads to lonliness because nobody wants to spend time with a person who treats others with contempt.
Bobby Fischer was WRONG to hold the world in contempt. The reason it worked for him is because this hate for others fueled the TRUE INGREDIENT required of a chess player to be a great success: THE WILL TO WIN.
Bobby Fischer hated his opponents so much that he could think of nothing other than destroying them over the chess board. His hate fueled his desire to win.
However, as we all know (or should know now) HATE LEADS TO THE DARK SIDE. Yes I'm making a Star Wars reference however the above statement is completely true.
THE KEY IS TO FIND THE WILL TO WIN WITHOUT HATING OUR OPPONENTS
How do we do this? By setting our goals high. I used to tell myself constantly as I trained at chess that I would be the next world champion. I didn't just say it; I believed it to my very core. This leads me to my next realization:
BELIEF IN YOURSELF AND THE WILL TO WIN GO HAND IN HAND!
If you don't believe that you're good enough to play better chess than your opponents then you will never find the will to win.
Let me show you a game from my early chess days. I wanted to test this idea that if I wanted to win badly enough I could, even without good preparation. I purposely didn't study before the tournament and goofed off the night before. I didn't get much rest and was tired. However, I wanted to win... very badly.
I don't remember my opponent's name however he was USCF expert rating at the time. I was playing Black.
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 d6 4.d4 g5 5.h4 g4 6.Ng1 Bh6 7.Nge2? (the correct move is Nc3 - the idea is after Nge2 Black plays Qf6 to continue guarding the f4 pawn but playing Nc3 first allows for Nd5! hitting the Queen and the uneasy pawn on c7.)
7... Qf6 (without Nd5 as a problem my Queen comfortably defends f4.
8. Nc3?! f3! 9.Nd5?? f2# (I actually had to stare at the position for a while. I knew it was checkmate however as a young boy playing an adult expert I felt I must be missing something to be allowed a checkmate so soon. After triple checking and taking a deep breath I finished the game.
You are probably asking yourself, "Jesse, the expert blundered right out of opening book and you won. What does this have to do with the will to win?" I'll tell you.
When you want to win badly at chess (or anything) your body and mind take on a calm fierceness. This fierceness can be felt by your opponent. If they aren't in the same mindset then they will instinctively begin to feel fear, doubt, hesitation. Keep in mind that my opponent was an expert! (USCF 2000-2199) He is a strong player and this is an opening he's seen countless times.
My theory is that he blundered because his will to win couldn't touch mine. He got momentarily confused/hesitated and made a careless as a direct result of it!
THE WILL TO WIN IS BOTH FOR YOUR BENEFIT AND YOUR OPPONENT'S DETRIMENT. IT WILL CAUSE YOU TO TRAIN AND FOCUS HARDER. IT CAN EASILY CAUSE YOUR OPPONENT TO BE FEARFUL/PASSIVE AND PLAY LOSING CHESS.