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How to Improve at Chess – Part 11

This series has been based on a series I wrote several years ago. The tips have been the same, but up until this point I have completely rewritten the text. However, upon reviewing my prior work, I don’t see a way I can add any major elaboration or improve upon the way I presented Tip #11. So I am going to present it here exactly as I originally wrote it five years ago:

11. Don’t kick yourself when you lose

Everybody loses sometimes. It’s not a cause for celebration (after all, the alternative to losing is much more fun), but it’s no reason for depression and self-loathing. Losing a chess game is an opportunity: you can learn from your mistakes and do better the next time. When I started playing tournament chess, I went months before winning a game – but the losing didn’t stop me; it helped me. So don’t kick yourself when you lose; instead you should use that opportunity for improvement.

And most of all remember that, at the end of the day when it’s all said and done, chess is a game – nothing more, nothing less. So always remember to have fun!

11. Don’t kick yourself when you lose

And now I’ll return to the present with some minor elaboration. Many people reading this series are doubtless longtime chessplayers who have hit a “plateau”, a place where they’ve seem to have settled with no further progress being made. I’ve been there too; in such cases we frequently find ourselves viewing chess as being akin to work. When I’ve hit that point in the past, I’ve often found it useful to take a step back and have a little break from the game. Walk away from the chessboard for a few days or even weeks if you wish. Come back when chess seems fun again. We learn best when we’re happy, relaxed, and not under pressure (self-imposed or otherwise).

Improving one’s chess should never be viewed as a chore. Look at it as an opportunity for learning and growth. And you needn’t do a little happy dance when you lose a game, but you should likewise refrain from kicking yourself. A loss is an opportunity for improvement and a chance to learn, which is itself often a fun and exciting adventure.

A fun way to improve is to solve chess problems. ChessCentral offers this electronic collection by Chris Ward.

Have fun! — Steve

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2 Responses

  1. There is an interview with David Bronstein in the book _Developing Chess Talent_ where he talks about the same subject.

    “Being ashamed of a lost game is about the most stupid thing Bronstein can think of: what matters is what you can learn from your games!”

    “Winning games is not important. You will, eventually. Points are not important, the main thing is that you learn news about the game every time.”

  2. That last quote should say “…you learn something new about the game every time.”

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