I played in my second chess tournament this weekend. It didn’t go well.
My first competition was in December. That one went much better.
In typical fashion, I showed up an hour early. I was the first one there. I met the head of the Waldorf Chess Club and we chatted about chess and sandwiches.
The other players piled in and we got sectioned into quads: groups of four. We would play each person in our quad once for a total of three rounds. I took math in college so I put this together quickly.
To spoil the whole thing, I lost all three of my games.
Here’s how each of them went:
- Neck and neck until he ruined my pawn structure (weakened my position). Beat me in the endgame because of my bad position.
- I tried to be crazy flashy and sacrificed two pieces for a fancy checkmate. I miscalculated and was then just down two pieces.
- A super even game that went down to the last few minutes. He was up a pawn and used that to beat me in a King and pawn endgame.
Here’s what I took from all this.
But it is valuable. For many reasons.
After a strong performance in my first tournament, I thought I was hot shit. I needed to be humbled to snap back to reality. Mom’s spaghetti.
As I learned in Brazilian Jiujitsu, being humbled, getting your ass kicked…It makes us kinder and more patient people. It gets us out of our heads. It destroys our egos. Our wellbeing stems not from our success, but our willingness to grow.
Only when our armor is damaged can we begin to make repairs to it. Otherwise we just walk around thinking we’re invincible.
I barely remember the winning moves I made during my first tournament. But the losing moves in this last one are engrained in my psyche. I can envision them right now as I’m typing this.
It’s an unfortunate truth, but losing is the best (only) way to get better at chess. That’s probably true in any endeavor: business, relationships, instruments.
When I meet with my chess coach next, we’ll have plenty to analyze.
The people I played this weekend were much stronger than those I played in December. It was a reminder that I must consistently go against better players.
The first competition pumped me up to improve at chess. It was a Winning is fun! I want to do more of it kind of motivation. This one energized me even more. But this time it’s a Losing is awful! I want to do less of it sort of thing.
The losing will never stop. It’s part of leveling up. It’s out of my control.
The only thing I can control is what these losses mean for me.
Back to the drawing (chess) board.