Why does losing at chess crush me?

88AlphaSierra
Why does it feel like I've been informed there's been a death in the family when I make a huge blunder? Seriously? Not a pity party. What is it about the game of chess that when you blunder or realize checkmate is inevitable it crushes the soul?
notmtwain
88AlphaSierra wrote:
Why does it feel like I've been informed there's been a death in the family when I make a huge blunder? Seriously? Not a pity party. What is it about the game of chess that when you blunder or realize checkmate is inevitable it crushes the soul?

Hmm. I don't think it's that bad for most people. It is a game, after all. Perhaps you should take up something less stressful.

But assuming you can treat it as a game, nobody says you have to feel good about losing. Losing can be a good thing if it motivates you to study your losses to figure out where you went wrong.

jerrylmacdonald

Scientifically I think it's the build up of hormones good and bad.  In general it's putting too much emphasis on a result.  If you emphasize a goal not directly related to winning, you'll feel better.  Look for successes in your loss.  Maybe you didn't ?? blunder or maybe you played a book move further than before.  

Also if you feel bad just stop playing.  You'll tilt.  Sometimes I get on a losing streak and take a break. I come back and not only play better but feel like I play better.  When you're tilting you feel like everything is frying your brain and that you are make great moves but you review the game and have accuracy of 30% with 5 blunders.  When you're not tilting it feels like everything comes easy.  It's  a state of mind.

88AlphaSierra

Jerry, interesting. I don't know if I'm tilting. I do know that I'm taking my chess development incredibly seriously. So I push myself quite hard. You have a great idea to maybe not focus on the end result so much as focusing on a certain aspect. I like that. I think that will help.

mandelldesign
I’m new to chess, very new.. I have a rather testy mindset when I lose, but it happens more often than not. Sometimes it prompts me to immediately try again, sometimes I simply close the app and try again later. It’s my personal opinion that chess is a seemingly academic/intellectual game, rather than a luck game. So when we lose, it’s almost insulting as if we “didn’t get it” or we weren’t sharp enough to beat our opponent. Also, have you ever noticed when you’re losing a game - you begin making blunder after blunder, I believe that’s happening as a result of our anxiety and fear of losing that we suddenly start panicking and stop thinking and planning rationally. So really focus on staying cool under pressure. It seriously helps!

But at the end of the day, try to remember, chess isn’t a math problem, it is truly meant to be enjoyed and those that practice regularly LEARN how to be more skilled at this wonderfully unique game.

Even the best lose.
ArufaBeta
I, for one, very much agree. Chess is a very strategic game, so when you make a mistake, it feels like an insult to your intelligence. If you don’t want your opponent to have the pleasure of checkmating you, you can always just concede the game before they do. (I had this happen to me once, and I still got the rating points for it.) If you don’t put so much effort or thought into the game, it makes it more fun, and you’ll still be learning if you analyze games after. Don’t push yourself too hard.
MSteen

First, huge props to you for playing daily and 30 minute games! More props for analyzing your games afterwards! Now to your question. I have been playing for 55 years, and can still relate--in part. Interestingly, I get more apprehensive about losing before I begin than after I actually lose. The hardest part for me is clicking the button to start a new game. Once it's begun, I just play the best moves I can and get lost in the game--no longer thinking about whether there's a win or a loss coming. 
As to how to react to a loss, well, it's NOT a death in the family, of course. There's no money on the line, no title, no national ranking, no endorsement deal. There's no audience, and no one knows who you are, nor do they care. Imagine Fabiano Caruana fighting Magnus Carlsen to a draw after their series of classical games in the world championship, only to lose to him in the rapids. Imagine Boris Spassky, up 2-0 after his first two games with Bobby Fischer, only to get crushed in the remainder of the match. Every chess player has to learn to lose, and lose a lot, in order to get better. At least you're not an MMA fighter. Losing there is a lot more uncomfortable.

sunny29990

I understand where you are coming from. It happens to me too every time I lose a game. I always try to explain myself that losses are victory in disguise as you learn from your mistakes and improve more upon your moves so that you don't lose next time but it still feels so bad when I lose especially after games which go more than half an hour as I have invested so much time and energy into them.

My only one and true advice like all of the people said here is that play it like a fun game and don't think about winning once you are on the board. I admit that its a little hard to do but after all like everybody said, its just a game.

Robalero

Because in Chess there is no chance whatsoever. There is no spin of the wheel, no throw of the dice, no flip of the coin, no draw of the card; so in the end, it is raw mind vs. raw mind with no buffers or chance excuses whatsoever. It is a war game so it is brutal!

Lonnie123
I used to feel the same, and of course still don’t like losing, but for me it felt like an attack on my Intelligence and I would feel genuinely stupid for losing.

I had an intuitive sense that smart people were just naturally good at chess, and that if you lost you lost to a smarter person. And maybe that’s true to a certain extent, but there’s much more than JUST being smart to playing chess.

Once I learned that, for most, chess is a skill and you can get better by practice (aka it isn’t just a raw intelligence match) most of that feeling went away.
Pulpofeira

Yes, if it was just about being smart, actually losing via a blunder would be less hurtful.

eliothowell

My foolish ego tells me, "you're smarter, better, more knowledgeable than your opponent".  However, that ego is wrong 45% of the time!  Hardly an endorsement of my ability. I just HATE to lose but it happens all the time due to stupid blunders.  Aarghh!

ArufaBeta
That’s just how it’s going to be. Make a blunder, regret it for the rest of the game. You have to keep on going though, otherwise your fate is sealed.
B1ZMARK

I hate being tortured with a disadvantaged passive position relentlessly. 

therefore I seek to inflict the same pain on my opponents.

mpaetz

     You seem to be new to chess, so of course you will make many mistakes and lose many games. I've played chess for a long time and make many mistakes and lose many games. Realize that those players who play very well, make mistakes only rarely and win most of the time have worked assiduosly at the game for some time. They may well have greater natural talent  for chess (visual abilities and memory) than most people. 

     Contrary to popular belief chess prowess is not an accurate measurement of intellectual ability. Many other factors are involved in chess success. Do not equate your chess success or failure with your overall worth.

     It is only natural to be disappointed when you overlook something and fail to play as well as you feel you should. How many times have you seen a major-league baseball player slam their batting helmet down or pound the bat on the ground in anger after striking out on a pitch they felt they should handled? Yet being successful just once in three at-bats makes you a top hitter. It's impossible to feel good after success and indifferent after failure in any competitive endeavor, but you aren't trying to be a chess professional, so cut yourself some slack. All successful players in any game strive to do their best at all times, but learn not to let their inevitable losses affect their future play. Mikhail Botvinnik lost his world champion title twice (vs Smyslov, Tal) but learned from those matches and came back a year later to regain his crown.

     Benjamin Franklin, Einstein, Lenin, Napoleon, and others loved to play chess but realized that it could lead to obsession and neglect of more important activities if they did not deliberately limit the time they spent on the game. They all did OK overall. Some top players (Korchnoi needed to work himself into a feeling of great hatred toward his opponents, Fischer was so paranoid over losing he just quit playing) become miserable human beings because of their obsession with chess.

     Just stay calm and carry on.

llama47
88AlphaSierra wrote:
Why does it feel like I've been informed there's been a death in the family when I make a huge blunder? Seriously? Not a pity party. What is it about the game of chess that when you blunder or realize checkmate is inevitable it crushes the soul?

Chess is tough like that because

1) It's a solo game, so you can't blame anyone else but you
2) It's a game with no hidden information, so you can't blame luck
3) It's a game that's symmetrical and turn based, so you can't blame design
4) It's a game that's respected in popular culture as being "smart"

All this together means the psyche has a lot of trouble parsing a loss or blunder as anything other than "you're dumb."

The good news is after you've lost about 100 games (as all of us have done in the fist few weeks or months of playing) you start to realize that it has nothing to do with intelligence, and you start to notice even GMs make stupid blunders (particularly in fast time controls, but even in longer games sometimes) so you start to learn to forgive yourself.

autobunny
eliothowell wrote:

My foolish ego tells me, "you're smarter, better, more knowledgeable than your opponent".  However, that ego is wrong 45% of the time!  Hardly an endorsement of my ability. I just HATE to lose but it happens all the time due to stupid blunders.  Aarghh!

A 55% correct ego is a pretty good one in the bunny's uninformed opinion . Unless the numbers are wrong but that can't be. 

FrogCDE

I think every chess-player is afraid of looking stupid. You (and I mean one, not you personally) are busy planning your attack and you forget to look at what your opponent's doing, and suddenly they grab a pawn for nothing. Now this is where the real damage happens. You don't want to feel stupid, so you pretend to yourself and to your opponent that you really meant that to happen - it was a sac, or at any rate you knew all along that you had compensation. so instead of assessing the position objectively, which might involve trying to defend, you play to deceive them and yourself that there's something there - maybe you can sac a piece for a threat, even though that's easy to defend . At least that will make it look as though the pawn sac had a dubious plan behind it instead of being a simple oversight. And in no time the game is lost.  There's a novel called The Master of Go in which a professional go player sits in silence for five minutes before every game. When asked what he's doing, he replies, "I'm ridding myself of the desire to win." Some of the answers have already made this point - if you disconnect your ego from the game, you will not only feel better but also play better.

dylangamble

Like that

dylangamble

Or maybe your black.