I calmly strodded into the tournament hall at around 12:30, which was still half an hour before the crucial round starts (for me anyway). Amongst my weapons lay the preparation I did yesterday with my coach, albeit how brief and undetailed they were. Set to play top seed today, which was really a test of whether I could keep my nerves and whether I had really gotten back into form.

Clearly I hadn't. I lost. And I wasn't very happy. I was more unhappy when my opponent claimed that I had a better position throughout the whole game (I had actually thought exactly the opposite!)! So there you go. A summary of a chess abilities.

Naturally being disappointed with losses and elated with wins comes naturally with any humans. After all, who wants to be proven that they are worse than their opponent? Surely we have various degrees of pride and confidence, but let's face it, nobody likes to lose.


It's not just in chess, it's like a whole heap of other things as well. Scoring the higher mark in a maths test, attracting more customers between business rivals, and landing the perfect refutation to a seemingly logical argument from the affirmative side of the debate. That is modern warfare, humans trying to outwit each other with their own repertoire of weapons, and through different sets of rules.

So how do humans express their superiority? They do it in many competitive environments, from gaming and getting better test marks to politics and warfare. Noticing the world is at peace many blood-thirsty humans  may resort to virtual warfare such as COD, AOE, 'headshoting' a virtue recruit with a sniper and seeing blood overflow from their punctured skull. Others may attempt to wrestle pride and acheivement from each other their more calmer scenarioes - chess, martial arts, debating (this is a nice 'sport') and of course.... sport itself.

What do all these have in common (a detective's first question )?

They all require intellect and physical ability, self control, discipline and indomitable spirit. I almost forgot an important one. Patience.

Chess requires physical ability? Really? How come? I thought chess games don't go for more than 10 minutes!

Well it depends on what tournaments you play. If you play junior tournaments you are facing 15 minutes per person. If you play an international tournament you are looking at 90 minutes per player... + 30 extra seconds for every move you make on the board (40 moves = 20 minutes) and sometimes an extra 30 minutes on the clock after you make 40 moves each. That adds up to about 5-6 hours PER game.

A typical example would a friend of mine playing in a tournament with the final round of the day starting at 5:30pm. 1:00am in the morning on the next day, he is catching a nightbus home (he lives around 2 hours away) and has to come back again for a game at around 10 am in the morning again.

So... physical stamina?

Yes.

Another argument. The 13th World Champion Garry Kasparov (whom also acheived the highest ever chess rating of all time 2851) always does cardiovascular exercises for a certain period of time before a tournament or World Championship Match.

Anyway drifting back to the topic. Chess is actually quite a bloodthirsty game. You have to be greedy (wow isn't that easy?), ruthless and cold. Your aim is to cut the opposing king's head off. To do that you have to be constantly trying your hardest, because he is trying to do the same to you. The most attractive factor is probably because its a silent game. You're not allowed to talk. Just silently proving your superiority, with no talking... just moving pieces around to win the game, and hence your worth. Interesting eh?

I once came across a chess book that stated Martial Arts and chess had a correlaton and I had to agree... they are both 'war sports' and each have a common theme of tearing their opponent apart, both with equally disastrous consequences (just to different parts of a human being... that's all). I think the main difference between these two is self control, where Martial Artists need to learn to refrain from inflicting irreversible damage on their opponent and chess is more about controlling yourself to take your time and analyse, understand and plan, as well as not to rush.

As a practitioner (albeit merely beginner) of martial artists and a chess addict I can safely say these two things have very common traits and you need a strong character in order to succeed at these types of things. The other reason is because its easy to run in to brick walls with these types of things. The best action to take them would be not only to review your skill level but also your emotionaal state during AND after competition ( http://studentofhumility.blogspot.com/2010/12/passion-lifelong-and-temporary-part-1.html) and how you deal with such painful losses.

Debating is another interesting element. You are pitted against your opponent's verbal and communication skills - useful in business and politics). Interestingly enough this is another major test on human ability and it is quite a fun thing to do. Although this time you are bounded by an adjustable set of rules... there is an ajudicator. Which is why many chess players would then say do your preparation by researching this ajudicator and find out what he/she likes. Since that is kind of impossible... we can only attempt to wrestle their approval through our natural voices and sturdy arguments. A nice way to beat somebody verbally without fearing a hammer greeting your head with a gentle thud shortly arfterwards. It's a relief isn't it?

Not to mention the school debating bonuses of refreshments afterwards... I must conclude debating would keep intact, something that chess fails to do.

So no matter what you do... you obviously don't like losing... but here's the big question.

Surely then, what makes the difference between the people who lose and then come back winning.... and those who lose... and come back still losing?

Jerry

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