Monday, January 22, 2007

'Chess Psychology' From a Different Angle

A quote from a new book from one of my favorite thinkers:

We can only be afraid of what we believe we are-whatever there is in ourselves that we haven't met with understanding. If I thought you might see me as boring, for example, it would frighten me, because I haven't questioned that thought. So it's not people who frighten me, it's me that frightens me. That's my job, to frighten me, until I investigate this fear for myself. The worst that can happen is that I think you think about me what I think about myself. So I am sitting in a pool of me.

All fear is like this. It's caused by believing what you think-no more, no less. It's always the story of a future. If you want fear on purpose, get a plan. Fear is not possible when you've questioned your mind; it can be experienced only when the mind projects the story of a past into a future. The story of a past is what enables us to project a future. If we weren't attached to the story of a past, our future would be so bright, so free, that we wouldn't bother to project time. We would notice that we're already living in the future, and that it's always now.


Now, you may be asking what this has to do with the game of chess, but if you have ever played serious chess, for money or rating points, you know very well the churning emotions that are going on under the surface--surprise, shock, fear, fear of losing and looking bad before your peers, fear of blowing something that you worked hard on for hours, fear that one little mistake can cost you 'everything.'

And we all know that under these conditions it's impossible to play your best.

It seems to me that this part of chess 'psychology' has been little addressed, even in the several books I've read with the 'psych' word in the title by Krogius, Fine, Benko and others (here's a whole chess psychology bookshelf, via Chess for All Ages).

An attitude of detachment from the result, of just playing and appreciating the game, might well lead to more points in the score table than taking every move as a possible life-or-death moment.

I don't know for sure, but it's worth consideration, and I'm going to be trying it out as I get back to 'serious' chess in a few weeks at the Reno CC Class Championships. So further reports will follow...

2 comments:

The Hungarian Knight said...

An attitude of detachment from the result, of just playing and appreciating the game, might well lead to more points in the score table than taking every move as a possible life-or-death moment.

That's a good quote. Is this quote yours or someone else's?

Wahrheit said...

It's original. I'm glad you liked it--and if i can keep it in mind during my next serious game I'll think it's really worth something!