Chess for Blood, Chess for Fun


  Smyslov vs Spassky, 1953

Vasily Smyslov (age 32) vs. Boris Spassky (age 16), Bucharest Romania,  1953


     The story is told how Sammy Reshevsky, a player of World Champion potential and normally a supposedly nice man, once in a simul made a losing blunder against a teenaged boy and in a fit of rage and disgust, swept the pieces off the board.  His over-the-top reaction to this totally inconsequential game illuminates his unfettered need to win above all else, even when it doesn't really matter. This isn't Pick-on-Sammy Day and the story is here just to illustrate the power that the will-to-win holds over certain individuals. This same will-to-win also gives the possessors a certain edge in any contest and I suspect any successful player has it to some degree beyond that of the average person. 

     Professionals who sink or swim by their results must, by necessity, have such an attitude but, as shown above, this attitude doesn't come and go when needed but rather pervades their very being, at least while engaging in Chess.

     Many amateurs have that same attitude and not just in tournament games, but in casual games, even blitz games. The importance of the game itself generally seems to make little difference in respect to such individuals' attitude toward winning.

                               These people play Chess for Blood.


     There are other people who have a more lackadaisical approach. While winning is nice, and indeed one of the purposes for playing, for those folks the act of playing, the creative process itself, is of equal or greater importance. Winning (or losing) isn't tied as much to their ego and they would often rather lose and exciting game than win a boring one. These people are seldom at the top of the ratings ladder. They often enjoy puzzles as much as they enjoy playing and when they do play, they try unusual moves just to see what happens and often they're fond of gambits. Generally, they are good players but lack that extra oomph to become really successful players.

                                  These people play Chess for Fun.


Which one are you?