New Year's Eve.

No matter who you are most likely camping in a folder or on your work/study desk lies a sheet titled somewhat similar to "New Year Resolutions" or rather, goals for the next year.

Likewise, there are 50% who think of it in their head, another 40% or so that don't think, another 9.99% that write it down, and the final remainder who actually get the engine fired and begin to start mowning the lawn. Why?

I don't know.... honestly don't. Maybe half the stuff you write down there is something you dream about? Something that is of little consequence whether you obtain it or not? Let's face it, I had a wild dream since 2 years old I was going to be a kung fu master who can do a punch more powerful than Goku in his Super Saiyan form. 13 years later, I'm no where close. Of course I went a little too far there (I was only 2) but taking a quote from 'Being a Happy Teenager' by Andrew Matthews, he states with great simplicity that "they succeed because they want it more than anybody esle."

The power source that fuels someone to repeat the same exercises day and night, everyday, for 10 - 20 years just to get good, I've always wondered where it came from. For some reason I can never figure out why, it just happens and as successful buinessman says " the rest is history. Now I am here!"

That's a pretty critical part of the story, and just to emitt it with 4 words is quite a crime! I want to try and fill in that gap today, but my understanding is far from deep so I shall swallow those words just then say rephrase: maybe just begin to scrap the surfaces of passion.

I'll use my own case study: My love for chess, how it started, and the everlasting mysteries in this game that no matter how much I swear to quit the game forever and the next day I wake up and say to myself "I never said that, I love this game!" Upon some thought I think the fuel for passion has a couple of critical stages.

Stage 1 - "The Beginner Luck"

It started back in the Library of my school, a couple of my friends playing chess and I watched, played, fell for traps and one week later I was putting up some stubborn defence, evening beating a 'good' (back then anyone who could move pieces were good to me!) player one day. Suddenly I got this burst of energy and false assumptions, starting with "I'm good!" Of course this was quite a naive thought but when you accomplish something your body floods you with such thoughts that you can only believe them otherwise!

So you feel your new power and begin to explore this game more and more. After all, you are good, ain't you? Like me, you may even decide to join a club and start taking some lessons and training, just to get an even bigger edge upon your co-hordes. That's exactly what I did and even though I wasn't able to immediately be able to take out some of the more experienced players, I found I was actually doing ok. Now should you keep improving your ego will multiply, so you begin to aspire new heights such as a chess tournament. Albeit not playing for too long, I knew I was underrated and strived to impress in my first junior tournament.

Soon I had begun private coaching with Brendan Norman ( and he remains and will always remain an inspiring and wise coach as well as a great friend and something I can always talk to if I experienced difficulties. With new training underway, I decided push the limits and play adult tournaments!

Although I didn't win any games except 1 in my first 2 adult tournaments I was never depressed because I was never expected to win anything or acheive anything. I was still far so weak back then. Now my passion has reached a boiling point, where you are just purely focused on this hobby, because you have come such a long way and wished to go so much further. It happens a lot and your rocket your motivation to new heights should you obtain a degree of success in your current competitive environment.

By my 3rd adult tournament I was producing upsets in half my games vs. higher rated players and continued to maintain my perfect score against lower rated players thus my rating rocketing up. And indeed with my success in my 3rd adult tournament (I won a prize!!) Your ego just simply rockets off and is now nowhere to be found. What is to be found is your parents complaining that you are not spending enough time practising maths questions for your yearly exam :D:D.

So this is the next stage, you've jumped so quickly you just expect your improvement to be just as quick. But the trick is, it gets just harder and harder to improve as you get better. I knew this, but the blow came too hard. I started the year alright with Australian U1600 Championships and some tournaments and then the final round of Newcastle Open hit me really, really hard, I was completely winnning and then just lost the rook endgame. I was so upset. If I had won I would've gotten the 4th U1400 prize in a row, and I couldn've and should've and I was so upset, depressed and disappointed.

At this point there's two paths the motivated man will take. One is to completely lose the motivation thus your motivation was only temporary, and once you 'stopped improving' you lost the interest for the game and proceeded to some other hobby, which unless if the 'correct' one for you could most likely end up in this situation again.

Another is to swallow your pride and arrogant thoughts, and try to find your weaknesses, improve and move on. Now this can be quite hard. Not only because your significant growth reached a stump, but chances are also you've hit a brick wall. And that's exactly what happened for the next year or so, and even at the time of writing I feel I am yet to batter down this wall. The good news is that usually after this wall comes a massive improvement, but this is all up to the person himself.

Now the whole process takes time and dedication, and because you're at a brick wall, even with the work you put in your results not evident (you may be improving but sometimes it takes a while for it to be transformed into actual results) and often you are depressed and left to wonder whether you are really suited for this hobby/sport. I've once felt like I could never play high level chess and was really considered quitting because I was so upset and felt that instead of climbing over the wall I jumped over to the wrong side and tumbled down the hill instead.

But here's the REAL question:

"Is this how I'll solve all the problems I face?"

Just in because you're not getting better? I placed a firm no to that question. Although for some people this may not be the case for their hobbies, but I had a genuine love for chess and no matter what happened quitting it will be real hard. That's the difference between a true lifelong passion and a temporary spark of interest. Should you fail, you become upset, angry and kick yourself for one day yelling that you'll quit for life. The next day as you get out of bed, you slump yourself to the chessboard again opening "Kramnik, My Life and Games" in order to view the gems that you're favourite player has created over the years simply because you still love the game. The later however, I can describe as once you fail or slow down in improvement you lose interest and pursue an alternative. The source of energy has been burnt out. Compare it to wind and coal energy. Coal is temporary and provides an instant strong source of power. Wind is neverending but slowly accumulates the power necessary.

Should this passion be your lifelong hobby then you will be lucky not to have a few ups and downs in the next couple of major scenes. Unless your truly humble, maturity and calm. Which unfortunately, most people ain't. I am currently in this phrase, and I have had good results and then bad results, good results and then bad results. This is probably because of a false assumption that I overcame the wall and I started getting a little cocky about opponents of a certain rating, and proceeded to get crushed anyway! :) Waahh it was bad stuff. Whenever you master the mental attitude of taking everyone seriously, whenever you step out of this cycle, is what I think. Of course you can step out with huge improvements in play, but without the right attitude all the skill amassed is completely pointless. So lifelong passions, is whether you fail or succeed, your love for your hobby never changes, no matter what happens.

Although I haven't played chess for too long and that I'm not especially good... I will confess I love chess and it is a big part of my life, allowing me to meet people that I otherwise would have never met, and allowing me to learn things that I otherwise would have never learnt.

Now after this up and down cycle, whats next?

Well I don't know! I'm not up to that stage yet!

I'll let you know when I am :D

Haha Stay tuned for part 2

Thanks for reading, my beloved audience.

Have a great day

Comments (2)

On January 1, 2011 at 10:43 AM , Chiara said...

wow. such wise words. hahaha. xD

good job.

On January 19, 2011 at 6:10 PM , Jerry said...

I actually didn't realise you posted a comment! Haha thanks :P