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February 23, 2019

Psychological readiness is paramount for one to excel in this mind game

Chess really fascinates me, with all the intrigues that arise after the first move. Did you know that white has those 20 first moves available; 16 pawn moves and 4 Knight moves?

There are 400 different positions possible after each player makes one move and that after their second moves the arising positions can be 72,084? And as the game progresses, it only gets more intricate.

It therefore calls for sound theoretical and positional understanding, coupled with deep and accurate calculation to emerge victorious. I never really get surprised when one loses a game that he/she was winning!

Because of the complexities on the board, concentration and patience are called for to drive the point home, literally. But chess players somehow get excited with the imminent win, forgetting that patience in such positions is a virtue that cannot be overlooked.

This eventually affords the player on the receiving end with enough ammunition to dig deeper and take advantage of weaknesses created by the opponent out of laxity and bounce back like the proverbial phoenix.

Having been on both ends of this scenario, I have come to learn that psychological preparedness is paramount to playing good chess, and focus must be maintained throughout the game.

On Saturday, US GM Hikaru Nakamuru lost a game he could have won in more than 2 ways against Norwegian world no.1 GM Magnus Carlsen, in the Zurich Chess Challenge. So take time to critically assess the position before making a move.


Quiz: With white to play and win, Nakamura made the move d6 and Carlsen seized the moment. How could he have proceeded instead?

Poll of the day