A letter from Jacob: Chess and motivation

Chess and motivation

I had several conversations with members recently regarding motivation and the quirks of it. Some were finding it difficult to motivate themselves against lower rated players. Others finding it difficult to find motivation to improving after a poor result. Others lack in motivation for other reasons.

There is one thing about motivation that is worth remembering. It is a feeling that comes and goes. You are going to have a strong feeling of determination sometimes and sometimes you are not.

If you have ambitions in chess, beyond enjoying the game, the most important habit you can develop is the ability to work no matter if you are motivated or not. To be able to study chess when you do not feel like it. To submit homework on a bad week, where you are not interested. Everything worth doing is worth doing badly. A poor effort is better than no effort.

The same with facing uninteresting opponents. Yes, if you play a former World Champion, it may be greatly motivating. But if you want to succeed in chess, you need to be able to perform well when you are not inspired.

Essentially, this is what is called discipline. No one has perfect discipline. No one should expect to have perfect discipline. Anyone telling you that they have perfect discipline is lying. But you need to be able to apply willpower at times to get things going. If you do not let them stop, you will not have to apply the same level of willpower going forward.

Facebook post

I posted the following on Facebook. Not looking for sympathy or feeling bad, just reflecting on the nature of frustration in general, noticing how I felt for a moment…

“When you are playing well, the trifles of everyday life do not get to you. But when you are playing poorly, when you are not in the right headspace (which happens to all of us at times) and you are -1 instead of +1, because of two moves made at the combined time of 8 seconds, small irritations get to you. It is not that they necessarily affect your playing. I don’t think they do. But your playing affects your ability to deal with a hotel messing up.

6am one morning someone came into my room in a Hawaii shirt carrying a big suitcase. Then at 9am housekeeping (not requested and not scheduled) decided to come in again.

The blinds to my room was not working, so I was sitting in darkness during the day. Then the repairman did not come on the first day and I had to ask again, spending another day in darkness.

The card I gave for incidentals (personal card) was used to take money for the room cost, costing me $50 and 10 minutes of accounting.

I am not going to complain. I know that when you are losing, you do not have the right to complain about anything. Everyone will think that you are complaining about losing – and they are not entirely wrong. If you were winning, you would be able to talk to the manager without going full Karen in a way it is hard to do when you are disappointed with yourself… And I also do not know if I would complain if I was winning games. That’s an irritating question – because everything is irritating when you are irritated with yourself…”

Allow yourself to feel your emotions. But don’t think they are especially important because you are feeling them…

From the Academy we have the following players in action:

Doug, Bryan, and myself all played in closed tournaments in Charlotte. Your sympathy is accepted. I will be giving a class tomorrow at 16:00 UK time about Reflecting on Charlotte Closed Tournaments.

Andy is playing a closed GM tournament in Hollywood and was doing quite well until he lost in Round 8.

A lot of members are at the Olympiad. Here is what we are aware of:

Jacob is the coach of the Danish Women’s team
Freddy is board 5 for the Scottish team and perhaps the youngest participant in the Olympiad ever for the Scottish team
Andrew and Hamish also play for Scotland
Sam is playing for the US
Jonathan is playing for Wales
Tarun plays for Ireland
Sabino plays for Italy
Andre plays for Portugal
Lim Zhuo Ren plays for Malaysia
Trisha plays for Ireland (and we know learnt is the Irish Women’s Champion for 2022! Congratulations!)

Some of our members are at the Olympiad for other reasons. To spectate, help out or coach. It looks amazing from afar. We hope you are having a great time!

Remember to let us know which events you are participating in on the Forum. It helps motivate your fellow students and makes you a part of a team – which always helps.

Your trainer and friend,

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