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Saturday, January 10, 2009

Chess builds character

The more I involve myself in chess (be it playing in an over-the-board game at the Edmonton chess club, playing online, playing against one of my chess programs, or playing through a game that someone else has played), the more I am fascinated by this activity. Having involved myself in this activity for over 32 years of my life, I still find the activity completely fascinating and wonderful. Chess allows you to experience a range of feelings,thoughts and reflections which I have never experienced in any other activity I have engaged in during my life. However, for me it is the creative aspect of chess and the character-building qualities of chess which keep me so interested in this pursuit.

Within the last week, I have played some of the most interesting chess of my life and so did my opponents. After losing a game on Thursday night (due to the wonderful creative efforts of my opponent Mark Stark, and due to some memory lapses on my part), I could have sulked at home, and even decided to give up chess completely because I felt so bad about my performance. However, instead I decided to go to the chess club on Saturday and play in the weekly Active Chess tournament. I am so glad that I did decide to go, because I played one of the most fascinating games of my life against Ali Razzaq who is an A-class rated player (over 1800 rating), which makes him stronger than everyone except a Grandmaster,International Master,Master or Expert. The game was one of the most complicated I have ever been involved in over-the board, and occurred in the Sicilian Defense:Dragon Variation. The result of the game was a draw, however, much more important that the result, was the effect upon my ego and self-esteem. After losing on Thursday, I have to admit that my ego was bruised and also my self-esteem was low, due to my tendency to be so hard on myself, when I believe I "fail" at something. However, then upon some reflection, I realized it was my self-talk and this "self-critic" we all have inside of ourselves, which was causing me the most problems. Once I admitted to myself, that I was trying on Thursday, (trying my best) this made me feel better, because I then was able to perceive that I was having distorted thinking about the game on Thursday night.....all or and nothing else was good enough thinking. I am entitled to be less than perfect and make mistakes. Mark Stark deserved to win the game on Thursday, and I learned alot by losing. Dr. David Burns has written a wonderful book entitled, "Feeling Good:The New Mood Therapy", which I highly recommend, if only to understand the types of distorted thinking we humans engage in on a daily basis, and also to learn how to change our distorted thoughts, so they do not cause us to experience severe emotional and psychological duress.

This other game I had, the one with Ali today, helped me believe in myself, and makes me feel that I can compete with the chess players who play at the Edmonton Chess club. Chess builds character and strengthens and causes us to develop and maintain within ourselves important moral values such as Courage, Perseverance, and Honoring others. As the webmasters at state: "chess challenges the player to not only succeed but to excel. It's an easy game to learn but one which is quite difficult to master; improving one's chess skills can be literally a lifetime pursuit. Chess allows us to exercise not only logical thought, but creativity and imagination. The mental gymnastics of the game help its players to improve their memory skills and problem-solving abilities. Chess also helps build character; we not only learn to lose well (and learn lessons from those losses), but also to win well; chess is truly, at its heart, a social game. And though chessplayers compete against each other, they're also simultaneously testing themselves."

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Visit GM Alexandra Kosteniuk's Women's Chess Blog:Please click on the image below:

Visit GM Alexandra Kosteniuk's Women's Chess Blog:Please click on the image below:
Chess needs more women and girl participants and administrators!

Thoughts worth thinking about

"Our subconscious minds have no sense of humor, play no jokes and cannot tell the difference between reality and an imagined thought or image. What we continually think about eventually will manifest in our lives."-Sidney Madwed

Laws alone can not secure freedom of expression; in order that every woman and man present their views without penalty, there must be spirit of tolerance in the entire population.- Albert Einstein Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. - Leo Buscaglia

A person's true wealth is the good he or she does in the world. - Mohammed

Our task must be to free ourselves... by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty. -Albert Einstein

The best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others. - Ghandi

The unselfish effort to bring cheer to others will be the beginning of a happier life for ourselves. - Helen Keller

Aim for success, not perfection. Never give up your right to be wrong, because then you will lose the ability to learn new things and move forward with your life. Remember that fear always lurks behind perfectionism. Confronting your fears and allowing yourself the right to be human can, paradoxically, make yourself a happier and more productive person. - Dr. David M. Burns

Life is as dear to a mute creature as it is to man. Just as one wants happiness and fears pain, just as one wants to live and not die, so do other creatures. -His Holiness The Dalai Lama

Mankind's true moral test, its fundamental test (which lies deeply buried from view), consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals. And in this respect mankind has suffered a fundamental debacle, a debacle so fundamental that all others stem from it. -

Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them. That's the essence of inhumanity. -George Bernard Shaw

Ego's trick is to make us lose sight of our interdependence. That kind of ego-thought gives us a perfect justification to look out only for ourselves. But that is far from the truth. In reality we all depend on each other and we have to help each other. The husband has to help his wife, the wife has to help the husband, the mother has to help her children, and the children are supposed to help the parents too, whether they want to or not.-Gehlek Rinpoche Source: "The Best Buddhist Writing 2005 pg. 165

The hostile attitude of conquering nature ignores the basic interdependence of all things and events---that the world beyond the skin is actually an extension of our own bodies---and will end in destroying the very environment from which we emerge and upon which our whole life depends.