Thursday 7 April 2022

Why I lose at Chess

I have recently become a convert to online Chess. I play it with both of my sons-in-law, using lichess. Of course, when they visit, we play real chess, but most of the time they are somewhere else, so online is a good option.

We are none of us Chess experts, but we are improving with practice; and lichess provides a post-mortem analysis of the matches, which is very good, I imagine, for those keen to improve their game who have time to study it.

But what I have learned most is about my own impulsiveness.  I know that I play well, and often win, when I take my time, consider my next move, the possible responses to it, and my possible responses to that (occasionally I look even further down the track). But I don't always do that. Sometimes, I see a move that looks great, and I play it. And then I realise (again) why that's a poor strategy: something I hadn't seen or considered happens, and I lose (or draw, which is nearly as bad!) 

The interesting thing to me is that I repeat that pattern, even knowing full well, in the abstract, that it is a bad idea. So why is that?

One reason is that I tend to play Chess in the gaps between - between meetings, between ending work and starting the next thing, between cycling and having breakfast, and so on. So it is in snatched moments, when I am not, perhaps, at my most recollected.  And I play for fun: I want to move the game on (though I also want to win - I am also interested in this as one of the few areas of my life in which I feel a real spirit of competition: who do these youngsters think they are anyway, to beat me at Chess?...)

But there is also something about adrenalin, I think. It is excitement that over-rides my caution, and causes me to make that clever move with my queen that attacks his king and prevents him castling - but, alas, means that he can move his knight to put me in check and attack my rook at the same time, resulting in the loss of the rook (and the game - we find that whoever goes one significant piece up tends to win, as we are fairly evenly matched).

So my resolution is to work on being less impulsive.  And why am I blogging about this? Well, it just came to me, and I couldn't resist the impulse.

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