Accept chess defeat and failure

By | 22 février 2018

Legendary human rights activist Malcolm X once said, “There is no better than adversity.”

This quote is especially valuable in a chess loss, because the post-mortem analysis gives you much more insight than r a victory and reveals to be an excellent growth opportunity.

As I just lost my two first ICN games of the season, writing these lines has finally helped me accept my defeats, learn correctly from this tough experience (I hate losing don’t you?), and get back on the road to bouncing back positively.

I hope now it will serve you as well.

Admit defeat

The first thing we must do in order to push past defeat is to confront it.This is definitely the part where I had the biggest difficulties.

We need to accept things went wrong somewhere because we made a mistake and not because your opponent was lucky or should have resigned. This human reflex to commonly blame others for everything bad, will prevent you from taking away the valuable lessons within each defat.  We failed and we need to understand how and why.

Another wrong approach is to diminish the importance of the game so that any disappointment is deemed to have little value. This might also prevent short term pain but it is preferable to be honest if we want to progress, by admitting that winning is important to us.

Basically, we have to face reality and confront our suffering if we want to move beyond it.

Learn from your mistake

After the acceptance comes the gain. So what did we learn from the game?

From a purely chess perspective, our analysis will certainly furnish practical weaknesses in our game that we can reinforce in our training sessions.

We will also probably regret a move here and there but as Carlsen pointed out during the world chess championship of 2013 against Anand, regretting is the wrong attitude. And he is absolutely right because the game cannot be changed anymore. We won’t have the occasion to change our move, so regretting becomes just another way to hurt ourselves unnecessarily.

An additional aspect we tend to underestimate and sometimes even forget is determining where and how we got wrong mentally.

Often compared to a psychological warfare, a chess game is not only a matter of move precision, but also a battle between two brains. During my last game, I totally lost my concentration after having gained a big material advantage. I suppose you can guess what happened next: I stopped calculating, started to play fast overconfidently and entered in complicated variations where my opponent outplayed me.

Since I accepted he was totally right not to give up after a few days (Yes it was tough), I inserted a motivating phrase in my affirmations to ensure I would never ever lower my guard until the handshake.

Bounce back

We admit, we learn and finally, we can bounce back.

At this stage, we can take comfort in talking with family, chess friends or even maybe your chess coach, but feeling down about the way we play will persist until we and only we decide to come back.

Shifting to the right mindset can take time but we cannot expect the solution to come from the outside. We have to enter the battlefield again and be better prepared for it.

For us, it means that we have to adapt our chess training, become mentally, emotionally or even physically stronger.

That’s exactly how we will respond to failure in a productive way.

Never give up

Having read a lot of books and articles about successful people from different areas, I can confirm every single one of them did one day suffer to a point where most of us would have abandoned.

Perseverance and mental toughness are the signs of the greatest. Do not be fooled, when you always hear about their victories. You should remember how hard hey worked and embraced their pain to achieve their dream.

Regarding our chess adventure, it obviously means we will expose ourselves to failure again and yes, it can be incredibly tough to face downfall repetitively. But if we manage to not let defeat define and control us, we can use it as fuel to become better chess players.

In other words, never give up!