Monday, November 1, 2010


This Monday morning, after finishing a class, a fellow I know a few years older than me told a story about FEAR. This can be a killer in chess and I invite viewers/readers to send me theirs.

When he was a little older than college age a fellow who was a former marine joined their group of chess players. For a reason only known to this type, he announced to everyone there that he was the Marine Chess Champ of his unit in "Somewhereville, USA. He had heard that my friend Gene was supposed to be a pretty good player and Gene was challenged to play him at some specified time.

Gene was pretty nervous about this as the guy clearly made it known he was a first class butt-kicker. It was easy for Gene to believe this guy because he had made such a federal case out of his chest beatings.

The final day arrived and Gene, playing White, beat him in 4 moves with the Fool's Mate (no joke!). For the first couple of moves Gene just played like he knew what he was doing but with no hope for survival. When the guy playing black lost, the loser immediately challenged him to another game and like the magician who refuses to do the same trick twice for the same audience, he declined. The guy's face had gone beet red because a host of people were standing around to watch the Big Game, almost as if it were a publicity stunt, which, it wasn't.

Some people really believe that being the champion of their block, or their school, or scout troop means something. They have no outside experience so they legitimately do not know better. The problem is, they can't imagine anyone else beating them simply because they have been the beatings' administrator in their encounters. And if they tell you they've NEVER lost, that too is another lie.

Gene was infinitely the better player but he was fearful this guy would make such a big deal out of it that he would have to hang up his chess spikes.

When I ran a games' store I had run into these types, many times. Their ego literally had no focus on reality. Even though they would lose every time, they would stop coming back, therefore they turned to believing in luck. These yokels COULD be sold the Brooklyn Bridge with the right persuasion.

I remember one fellow who stopped in; a great big fat guy from Louisiana. Told me he could carry 7 games around in his head at all times. Wanted to know where the chess club met. His lucky day! It met that night at 7 p.m. He DID show up and was soundly beaten by our weakest regular player there, a guy rated about 1400. We never saw him again.

Boasting from an unknown means nothing. Don't fear the unproven. Talk is tough. Laugh a lot, especially when it is over and you've won, but not before then. Then leave.

These guys are pathetically insecure. No truly good player I've ever known ever announced that he was a good player--there is no "money" in that! Pool hustlers don't do that and neither do good chess players. As SOON as I hear that, the advice I give to myself is this: "Don't play them if you don't have to." Or, "They may be full of baloney, but they may also know a little something, just don't get over confident because you can be sure that at some time during the game, they will be (overconfident)." Only fool's would get beaten by the Fool's Mate.

Please send me your stories.

1 comment:

  1. Some folks fear losing to lower rated players so they seldom play. However that is the wrong approach, all of us will lose to those rated lower on occasion; it could be bad experience with a rising star or just a bad day.

    However in the long run you will beat lower rated players more often than not, and by reducing your games not only are missing opportunities to gain experience (and your own rating points) but your statistically defeating yourself. In statistical terms in the variance and it will always be high when your samples are low; in stocks its called the beta (or risk factor). When the variance is high, your loses to lower rated players in only heightened in important instead of just being an anomaly.

    My own story is that I don't play much OTB, so the variance there is more than I would want it to be; however I have been playing a lot of correspondence; there the occasional loss to a lower rated player is more than offset by victories against experts and the occasional (but not often enough) masters, so that my rating has been consistently rising and I should make expert in about 2 years (I hope).