I'm not very good at Chess, but I had a few interesting endings to games recently with some valuable lessons in them -
Opponent With Lead Acts Hastily, I Win
He's winning - he's ahead a pawn. But he's more focused on putting a beatdown on me than he is on making sure he doesn't lose.
Board looks like this:
He outplayed me that whole game. But at the end, he was thinking more of savaging me than making sure he didn't lose. Didn't check to see if I had mate on the back row with the rook.
Same Story, Except I Force a Draw
Opponent was way ahead on this one, but he ignored me getting both my rooks on his back rank, and then I got perpetual check - check, check, check, check, check - draw. I forced a draw even though he was ahead a lot... and he was a lot better than me. I was proud of this one (even though I only got to do it because he was sloppy).
I Get Super Sloppy, Lose
I'm about to promote my pawn, get a queen -
We're playing 20 minutes per side, and the game's breezed along quickly to this phase. But now, the (rather poor quality) opponent starts taking 3-6 minutes move putting me into check. I start doing other stuff online, bored of this game, and this debacle ensues -
Two lessons here - Finish strong... a weak opponent or easy situation that you don't pay attention to can easily turn out to be a loss. Also, don't get off your game because you're bored or things are going slowly.
And, sometimes there's not much you can do about it...
This game is a loss.
I'm white. It's my move. I have all kinds of options to savage him now, and I just have to check that the sequence of events is okay after he takes my E pawn.
But it's a loss. Why? The internet connection at the cafe I'm at died.
Well, that's life, eh? This was just a casual Chess game online, so who cares. But it says that (1) sometimes things happen outside your control, and (2) if something really important, make sure you have fallback plans and high stability.
The General Lesson
Don't get sloppy. Stop and evaluate. Don't just get seduced by the upside - also protect yourself from the downside. Even if things are going slowly or unfavorably, exercise patience and follow through appropriately.
Have you learned any general lessons from Chess, poker, or other games? I'd love to hear your stories in the comments.
New at posting here, but I've been reading on and off. I do enjoy your writings so do keep it up. Games are incredibly deep especially when you want to get good at them and many of the best lessons in my life have come from analyzing the mechanics of different games to win. I used to play a lot of "Texas Hold'em" Poker and the best points I learned from that game were:
1. You have to learn to make decisions with incomplete information
Corollary 1: Learn to live with those decisions, especially if things go bad
Corollary 2: There is no point in worrying about "what if" or "I should have..."
2. You can have a 90% chance to win, make the best decision*and still* lose
Corollary 1: If you lose you still might have made the right choice
Corollary 2: Even if you win, you might have been lucky
Corollary 3: Learn to accept bad outcomes with the "right choice"
3. Learn to take risks and be able to survive them if things go wrong
However: There will be times where you need to go "all in"
4. Not losing is just as important as winning
5. The projection of your image to others affects the way they respond
6. There is also an inner game; dealing with your own psychology, especially your own fear
There are probably more things to the game. I haven't played in 5 years but I used to consistently make $1,200/month playing. I decided to quit because I had learned everything I wanted to learn from the game and there was a world outside to explore. If you're in Tokyo, send me an e-mail and we could play. You could teach me a few things in chess.
One thing I learned from chess is the how a certain player evolution applies to quality control and variance in results.
One milestone toward becoming an intermediate chess player is playing what Dan Heisman calls 'Real Chess'. Beginners play 'Flip-Coin Chess', where a move is played quickly without serious thought. The winner is the one that is lucky enough to blunder the least. 'Hope Chess' is when you make a move and don't look at what your opponent might threaten on his next move, and whether you can meet that threat on
your next move. A chain of moves is only as strong as the weakest link, and when the opponent makes a threat you had not considered, he usually gets a decisive advantage.
Playing 'Real Chess' means evaluating every move well enough to see every possible threat the opponent could make after your move, and knowing how to respond to it. If you can't do this, your standard rating will never rise above 1400, because around that level, most opponents will find that threat, and break that single weak link in the chain to you victory.
This shows that in at least some types of expertise, the intermediate level is characterized by a level of 'six sigma'-style quality control, where a certain known and codefied process sets the minimum bar for everything that is shipped. Any hole will directly benefit the competition.
I've had a similar experience playing Go.
After not playing the game for a long time, I got back into it and started playing online. In one of my first games, I didn't stop to assess the board and see the approximate scores, so I kept on attacking. I tried to take over everything I could. I made a mistake - and my opponent saved a huge group of stones. It must have swung the score by about 80 points. I ended up losing.
I could have had a big win - but I tried to make it gigantic, and I ended up losing.
- don't be greedy. A win is a win.
- Always have an estimate of the score / relative standing, so you know how to play going forward...
Lessons equally applicable to life...
Thanks for your story,
Something I've learned in chess is you have to be active. There's no use passively moving and defending. You need to go out, try things, see what works, and constantly struggle to move forward on the board. There's no point to backing down when all that lies there is defeat.
I have noticed in life i am a passive player. I need to try actively living it.
From Sebastian: I was really honored and thrilled when Jason Shen offered to write a guest post here at SebastianMarshall.com - he's an incredibly bright guy with broad knowledge and skillset, writes well and clearly, and is an all-around good guy. So I'm really excited to be able to bring you a guest post by him - I imagine you'll want to read more by him afterwards, and you can reach him at his website - www.jasonshen.com.
Here's Jason -
I read Sebastian's blog because I'm interested in winning and he writes honest, insightful and sometimes provocative stuff about victory. Recently, I've been thinking about ways to win that are less commonly employed - one, because it's interesting and two, because I think there is a lot we can learn from unorthodox methods that work.
That's what this blog post is about: strategies that are nontraditional, that are beyond "do your best and learn from your mistakes" type advice, yet are undeniably ways that help you win.You might find them strange, but that's ok because winning isn't normal.
Some people find the pursuit of winning distasteful or even silly. Others get juiced by the idea of winning, of kicking ass and taking names, of being the best. I have a feeling that many of you SebatianMarshall.com readers fall into the second category. This post is for you.
At the time of writing, I'm playing a game of chess online. All I know about my opponent is gleaned from his profile; we have had no direct communication. He is an 84-year old man from Israel, and he wins more games than he loses. The game is almost over.
I am going to win, and we both know this, but it takes 4-5 moves for me to make a single step of progress. He threatens and obstructs me every step of the way and I know he won't submit. The man only makes one move a day. Given his age, I am hoping to beat him before he dies.
I've spent a lot of time thinking about this man. The life he's lived, the things he's seen, and his approach to chess. He's captured my imagination. I can see him walking through the streets, stopping in a cafe for a coffee, conversing with the locals. Maybe he plays chess there too. He is stubborn and relentless, even now in his diminished strength. He contemplates every move and will not be hurried (not that I have tried to hurry him). Earlier, when the field of play was more level, I considered making small mistakes to give the elderly gent an upper hand. I figured he would enjoy the victory more than I. After talking it over (yes, I talk these crazy things over with others) it was decided that the best thing to do was to play my best. He didn't come here for allowances or special treatment, he came here for the challenge and a realistic measure of his ability. I hope youngsters will afford me the same treatment when I am older.