5 Phases of Grief in Chess

5 Phases of Grief in Chess

IM motivated_bishop
Jun 18, 2016, 9:10 AM |



Everybody makes mistakes in chess.

However, it is common knowledge that one mistake (if it's not blundering your queen or anything of that sort) should not lead to an immidiate loss.

In this blog post I want to share with you a new theory I have made about the essence of mistakes in a chess game.

From my experience in GM-level tournament play I found that in the vast majority of cases mistakes happen in a sequential form. Only in rare cases you can find occasions in which a player could stop after a significant inaccuracy and play a great game from that point on.

I suppose that many of you have heard about the "Kubler - Ross model" mainly known as "The Five steps of grief"https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K%C3%BCbler-Ross_model

Although I suppose that for Non-chess players it may seem bizarre to compare between losing an important chess game to grief I think every one of you who lost a decisive game on a weekend tournament on your local club knows what I am talking about... Sealed

Before we see the recent example from my game played in the Israeli Championship Semi-Final 2016 let's have a look at a more general explanation:

  1. Denial 
    First of all, we fail to compromise with our mistake by denying that it ever happened. This thought process of chasing your initial false belief over the position would usually simply result in a sequence of bad moves.
  2. Anger
    After finally understanding the mistake has been made and it is here to stay we become Angry. This phase simply leads to the fact that we direct our limited amount of mental energy to the wrong direction and therefore lose concentration over the board.
  3. Bargaining 
    The Bargaining phase in the chess grief is the time in which you start asking for help from Caissa... It could be that you promise her that you would learn the opening better next time... or maybe you promise her that from now on you will solve puzzles on the "tactics trainer" for an hour each day. but please, make my opponent blunder! Innocent
  4. Depression
    Depression is the phase which starts when you feel your position is hopeless. You would usually not bother about searching defensive resources, but rather about the consequances of your forthcoming defeat. I tend to name this phase also as "Mental Resignation" because we loss hope and start mourning instead of looking for last resorts.
  5. Acceptance
    Acceptance is the last phase in which you finally understand that the situation is irreversible and you have to accept your defeat and move on. I name this phase as "Practical Resignation". I always tell my students that they should "Resign only once" I am not sure if it makes sense in English Laughing but the idea is that they should not give up in a bad positon and sink into Depression until they have reached Acceptance and accept the fact that it is time to resign.
Now I think we are ready to have a look at my own recent experience...
What we have seen here was the old sin which is being made every day by thousands of chess players around the world.
So how do we avoid this deadly mechanism?

Let's have a look at a recent game from this year's Candidates tournament by one of the best defenders of our times - GM Sergey Karjakin.
And what about the psychological factors?
Let's havea look about what the World Championship challenger had to say after the game.

I hope you have found this post interesting, please feel free to share your thoughts. Smile