How to Improve at Chess: Tip #15: Know why you lose

Dec 6, 2007, 4:10 AM |

I have recently lost a couple of games... my last one was mate in 1 which I should have seen and prevented. I calculated so many variations.... I saw everything, but the nice tactic (Queen sac)! After congratulating my opponent, it was time to mull over what happened. What was I thinking? What was I focusing on? How did I miss the mate? Is there something I could have done a few moves earlier to avoid this? etc. So I played over the game several times... For once, I was not mad at myself. I was not "seething". I just accepted it and tried my best to learn from it. I have been learning a lot recently. It is more about learning about myself - my thinking process - when I play Chess. Each loss
(- I am now inching towards 20 of them! Ouch!) teaches me something. I have noticed that a few recent losses have been because I focused on some irrelevant aspect of the position/game... for example, instead of noticing that my King was not well protected and bringing a piece or two to strengthen the defence, I would remove a piece from the defence to go grab a pawn! In several games, I lost because I was trying to avoid a draw, so I ended up pushing my luck! Yet, in a another loss or two, I had a backward pawn that my opponent made the center of the game and I could not win positionally.

Learning about such things about myself... how I lose, helps me know myself better. I think in the long run, it will make me a better player. I will know things to avoid. I will know recurring themes in my losses. I think it is very beneficial to analyse my own games in this manner than just moving on to the next game.

This process can be expanded to include wins and draws, or certain aspects of the game. You can go through your games and just look at your first 15 moves and see if you can recognize certain themes and patterns.

So, there is tip# 15 on how to improve at Chess: Learn from your losses.

For tip# 16, click here. 

For tip#14, click here.