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Chess is Many Things

Chess is Many Things

Jun 29, 2014, 3:43 PM 2
Chess is many things to different people.  Some consider it as a great hobby, a tool for keeping the mind sharp. Others love the competitive side, traveling from tournament to tournament testing themselves against quality opposition. Still others see it as a major source of income, parlaying their ability to play, teach, write books, create DVD's, perform simultaneous exhibitions and other displays of their brilliance into a real livelihood. With these varied mindsets, the critical factor in one direction or another boils down to one word: approach. 


Take two hypothetical friends who play chess and both love everything about the game, however whose approaches to developing their chess skills are vastly different. One friend learned a few months ago and, while not being bad player, would not mistaken for Magnus Carlsen. The other learned at a young age, picked the game up quickly and considers himself a natural. The newbie friend recognizes that he is not marvelously talented and is more than willing to do whatever's necessary to become a better player. The other friend, the natural, feels that chess came easily, so there is little reason to work hard to improve his game. 


For the "gifted" friend, a loss is a bitter pill to swallow, and he therefore never pushes himself to grow. On the other hand, the unpretentious one sees a loss as a chance to embrace the entire process of skill development, which includes spending countless hours analyzing his games and reflecting on his losses. Unquestionably, the determined rookie will surpass the less industrious veteran, confirming the adage that hard work beats talent any day. Unsurprisingly, their approaches to their real life challenges will often be handled almost exactly the same way as they play chess.


How do you respond to a difficult loss in chess? Are you bitter and demoralized? Are you accepting and motivated to grow? Do you put the game into online chess analysis tools or do you ignore it and move on to a next game hoping to win? The answers to these questions go a long way to providing clues to your makeup and your eventual success in chessand in life.


The behaviors expressed as a result of chess usually surface all the time in real life situations with varying degrees. At most times, chess can provide instant feedback, a virtual mirror to our personality. The lessons are usually loud and clear. Though the very notion that a game can be an appropriate behavior indicator may be off-putting to some people, the hard truths chess teaches have been transforming the humble student since the game's inception. One just has to listen and be willing to grow.


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