Applying the same structured analysis methodologies used in today's business environment, I wanted to know why I spent so much of my time studying and playing chess, organizing tournaments, and reading articles regarding recent chess events. The truth was that I had no real answer.
This was my first indication that a more structured approach to chess was necessary if I were to improve. My first task was to determine if chess was indeed that important to me! I assumed it must be as a quick assessment of my use of time was shocking. Excluding weekend chess tournaments, I spent on average 4 hours a day on chess.
If this does not sound like a lot of time to you then you have not done your math! A day consists of 24 hours. We spend an average of 8 hours sleeping, 9 hours working, 2.5 hours eating, and to be generouse lets assume we devote 1 hour to our significant others. The total is ... 19.5 hours. That leaves only 4.5 discretionary hours in any given day. I spent 89% of that discretionary time involved in some chess activity: most was spent playing blitz, the other reading chess books, and if I were truely inspired I may actually study endgame technique.
So why did I spend so much time with chess?
The answer lies in the nature of chess. Chess consists of problem-solving and critical-thinking. These processes are inherient in human nature and innate to my character. In fact, I have made a career of problem-solving! That at least answered why I would be attracted to chess. The reason I got hooked on chess was altogether different.
First, chess was challenging. The problems were endless and the answers hidden fromme. My retention of these problems and their resolution was short; adding to the day-to-day struggle.
Secondly, chess just fealt right. Chess was an intimate struggle against an abstract construct (the position) and an animated foe (my opponent). This struggle resembled sport and filled a basic need for competition. But chess was different than basketball or even tennis. Organized chess allowed me to measure myself against others via an official rating. This was the real hook. In fact, ELO ratings may be the sole reason many people play competitive chess.
However, for me there was one more reason. I simply wanted to improve upon some weaknesses in my character. I lacked one essential driving competitive spirit; PRIDE. Yes, like you I want the respect of my peers. However, unlike most, I felt little personal responsibility for my own failings.
In many ways, I victimized myself when confronted with a manipulative 'competitor'. I would own up to my errors, but would not rejoice in my own accomplishments. In short, others could take credit for my accomplishments while pointing the finger at me for failures. The result was an undesirable resentment brewing within.
I had to fix it ... and ... it had to be fixed now!!!
With chess, the games are recorded and the results posted. My play was a reflection of no one else but me. I was in complete control. Yet my poor tournament performance continued despite my devotion to the game. I soon realized that my actions had consequence and those consequences were recorded for posterity. Soon I became embarrassed and needed to perform better. This was the birth of a deep sense of PRIDE within me.
With that conquered, I looked for chess to enhance my DISCIPLINE and STRENGTH OF RESOLVE. This is where I remain today. Now I focus on precise play and structured analysis of the chess position.
In the end, chess has already made positive contributions to my daily life. So chess is important to me because it helps to develop my character and personal resolve. With a purpose defined, I began to take a more organized approach to chess and set higher expectations for my performance.
Written by: Kevin Monte de Ramos