Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Losing ... sucks

A delicate subject! Too easy to say "you must develop this or that way of thinking about the game you just lost - to prevent you from losing enthusiasm for the next". We've all read that type of cod-psychology and come away thinking - yes, but I'm still fed up (to put it in polite terminology).

I'm not worried about a series of losses putting me a frame of mind where I just stop playing. After all, it IS just a game, right? What I am worried about is that I get in a bad frame of mind for the next game, play below par and start kicking myself for not playing as well as I could and should do. I mean, that's the thing isn't it? My goal is always to play as well as I am capable, no more and no less.

What we should be worried about, however, is linking your self-esteem to a recent lost game. You are not a bad person just because you lost a game of chess. You just had a beneficial learning experience is all.

Yes, of course it is useful to go over the game in some way or another afterwards, either with or without the benefit of your opponents comments. Checking all the variations is great - if you have the guts to do this, that's great. Many times we are not able (or willing!) to do this. But it is still useful to ask yourself a few questions about the game nevertheless. For example:

* Maybe I lost the game because I was worrying about whether the car will start in the morning. The forecast was bad and I know that the battery is a bit dodgy.

* Did my opponent know the opening so well that (s)he'd got a winning position very quickly. If so, it can't be helped. Maybe I'll have a look at that opening sometime - or think about abandoning the wretched thing (for example, in my case, the Orang Utang Opening!!)

* He was a stronger player than me. In spite of this I played well and we explored some interesting territory together. I gave him a good game. I did not waste his time. Anyway, I made him think.

* Hey! I liked my 24th move. If I can keep coming up with moves like that, well, I can't be so bad.

What else? Well, if you have lost your confidence, your energy - even to the slightest degree - I would advise against a rematch, at least until you have had time to lick your wounds. On the net we often get an immediate challenge from an opponent. Whether you have just won, or just lost, I think it better to think carefully about your state of mind before accepting such a challenge. OK, you may have just beaten the guy - but if it took a lot of your energy in so doing, well better to put him/her on your 'Notify' (be notified on arrival) list and play a game some other time. But, on the other hand, if you're raring to go ... well, "fine, go and get 'em tiger!".

And to quote Ralph Waldo Emerson: "Win as if you were used to it, lose as if you enjoyed it for a change".

Just to cheer you up a bit (amid all this gloom and doom) here are some of the more humorous reasons for losing chess games which I have filched (there are many more at the Sutton Coldfield Chess Club site).

* My opponent looked as if he had a contagious disease, so I thought it best not to take any of his pieces.
* Studied book 'How to Beat Bobby Fischer', was unprepared for other opponents.
* I wanted to see if the refutation worked, and I was proved right.
* My perpetual check didn’t last very long.

And maybe enjoying a good laugh is the best way to cope with losing at chess anyway!

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