Playing a losing chess game

When I play chess, as soon as I hit some internal threshold where I feel like I’m sure to lose the game, I want to (and usually do) quit.

Now how does that translate to the rest of my life I wonder?

Today I won a game even though I was a bishop, a knight, and a pawn down within the first 20 moves. Granted if I was playing against a Grand Master, It’d probably have been a waste of both our times for me to continue playing.

Or maybe the Grand Master wouldn’t think so, and that’s part of being a Grand Master.

This time though, I swallowed hard and didn’t quit. Mainly because my opponent doesn’t quit either no matter how down he is. Eventually I was able to make solid moves until my opponent made mistakes while I kept increasing my advantages.

Before long I was only  down one pawn, but that didn’t matter because I had a discovered check that would allow me to capture his queen.

The game was over, I had won.

When re-analyzing the game, we found that I was allowed to continue forking or skewering his queen on different variations of those last few moves. It was because he made the fatal mistake of moving the king out of his protected pawn structure.

So far in my life I’ve worked to overcome my fear of pursuing goals that might seem unattainable. But I keep becoming hindered because I quit the first time things begin turning sour, when the curve of progress stops going up.

If I had to venture a guess as to the nature of success, I bet that it includes several dips on the road, no matter the pursuit. And yah, I’ve learned to start taking the first step and beginning the journey. But I haven’t been so good at finishing it.


Strategically tactical

Strategy incorporates fundamentals and principals. In chess for example, first you learn the fundamental movements of each piece. Then you learn basic principals of openings strengths and weaknesses. You learn fundamentals of tempo, open lines, pawn chains. You acquire knowledge of the principals of weak bishops and strong knights. All this needs to be ingrained into your psyche so that it’s a subconscience layer as you play chess.
Tactics are the moment to moment situations and what is the best movement. In chess, tactics is which opening to use as the black player. Tactics is the decision between attacking as the best defense, or defending as the better defense. Tactics is the placement of your knight so that it can be used as backup for that checkmate with the queen.
The key is that strategy comes first, then tactics. Strategy is the inner strength that you practice and practice until it’s deep into your core. Tactics is the surface motion above this core.
In kung fu, you first learn the basic fundamentals of Ma, or how to be solid and balanced. Then you learn the principles of the strikes in your system. You practice fundamentals of Jing, the generation of power in movement in accordance with your Ma. All of this needs to be hones into your muscle memory so that it’s second nature. Then you begin to learn tactics. You learn Ping, the timing of your strikes in conjunction of the movement of your Ma and the generation of Jing. You learn gates, the death gate is where no more movement is possible, the life gate is the opening for new movement.
This concept of strategy then tactics can be mirrored in every discipline. Cooking, programming, painting, speaking, etc. Every discipline has principals and fundamentals. And then every discipline has tactics. Tactics is always the fun part. When someone sees a kung fu fight, it’s interesting because of the tactics that are played on the surface. But the surface is only possible because of the deeper core of strategy.
Without strategy, you have meaningless tactics which at best are voodoo successes, or at worst, a joke. Both are necessary, let no one tell you that strategy is better than tactics or that tactics is better than strategy.
In kung fu, there are those who practice nothing but strategy. They learn forms, they learn internal power and they can break bricks with their heads and jump really high. But in a fight they are useless. And then there are those who learn nothing but tactics. They are quick and energetic and they punch and kick and will hurt you. But then they will wear themselves out and make lots of enemies and then suffer. The kung fu artist that practices strategy and then practices tactics, such is the path of a master.