I played 1000 games of chess and this is what I learned:
- Learn by losing. I started out entirely clueless, barely knew how the pieces moved. I played game after game after game. Lose, lose, lose, lose, lose. Every time I lost I learned from my opponent and the moves they made. I learned from the common patterns of play across multiple opponents. I often found myself just knowing something was a good move or a good sequence of moves without consciously knowing why, and then after making these moves a few times, something would click and I’d get it consciously. I learned far more from my losing streaks in the beginning than my winning streaks.
- State is everything. Ok maybe I already knew this but it really does make such a huge difference. Those games I played when I was falling asleep late at night, feeling very unwell or distracted – complete disaster! Poor focus, poor decision making, shitty results.
- The quicker you can recognise a particular play isn’t working, drop it and try something new or adapt to combat a strategy your opponent is playing the better your chances of a win.
- Don’t get distracted by shiny things and keep your eye on the prize. The aim of the game is to check mate. You can easily miss an opportunity to check mate if you’re focused on weakening your opponent, even if it is a high value piece up for grabs.
- After about 500 games I did some online chess lessons. By doing nothing other than focusing on following the principles I learned I began winning without even trying.
- When it’s all going to shit, step back and take some time to regroup and figure out the best future course of action.
- It’s not over til it’s over. Lots of players resign from the game when it appears they have no longer got a hope of winning. This robs them of the opportunity to develop a strong end game and a strategy for turning things around. I’ve won several games that seemed hopeless, until right at the very end, one blunder from your opponent, or an excellent play by you and the game can be yours. And of course don’t get cocky if you’re having good game either as this can go the other way too.
- A well matched game is incredibly satisfying, win or lose.