09 April 2022

"The Rule of the Chess Player" - Inc.com article

From the Village Sun

I came across an Inc.com article "How Emotionally Intelligent People Use the Rule of the Chess Player to Strengthen Relationships and Perform Under Pressure" which is quite a mouthful of a title. The main idea of the author is what he calls the "Rule of the Chess Player", based on what he saw happen at the chess tables in Washington Square Park in New York:

Whenever a player made a big mistake, the rest of us recoiled in horror. We'd let out loud gasps of exasperation, as if to say: How could they make that move? 

Of course, the funny thing is while we were all astonished that a skilled player could make such a thoughtless mistake, we often made the same mistakes ourselves when we were in the player's chair. 

There's an easy explanation for why this happens: It's easier to see potential mistakes when we're not in the hot seat. We're not emotionally attached to the game. Our heartbeat doesn't quicken when we see a potential good move. And we don't feel the stress once the pressure mounts.

I like to refer to this as "the rule of the chess player."

While this seems a rather obvious observation, the further point made by the author is actually a good one: you need to train yourself to master your emotional and stress responses, so that when you are in the seat yourself, you can use the full extent of your skills. Which means that it isn't simply a matter of training your chess skills, but also adopting the necessary mental toughness and cross-training in other mental and physical disciplines.

Although there is a bit of business buzzword fluff in the article, it's still better than most chess-related business advice. Unfortunately, however, if you look at the full article link they have another picture of a chessboard set up incorrectly, like other fails related to chess imagery in popular culture.

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