3 Ways to Build Confidence

By CEO National Master Evan Rabin 

Last weekend I was screaming on the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at the Magic Kingdom in Disney World. It was my first time in years riding a roller coaster and was certainly out on my comfort zone. The truth of the matter was that I did not have to scream; while the ride can intimidating, thousands of people take it each year and almost no one gets hurt. Later that day, I rode several other thrilling rides and I started to feel fine; the biggest challenge is taking that first big step! Confidence was a key topic of my recent podcast episode with Grandmaster Alexander Shabalov. On or off the chess board, here are three tips to become confident: the 50 point rule, repetition and self-reflection. 

 

On my first day working at Oracle, my sales trainer Bill Petersen taught an important business phrase: “Underpromise, overdeliver.” It is a lot better to forecast a smaller dollar amount of revenue and exceed it than the opposite. Chess players need to focus on appropriate expectations; one way to do that is use my famous 50-point rule. No matter what your opponent’s rating actually is, play as if he is rated 50-points higher rated than you. That way you give them a little respect and are not overconfident but do not get nervous and play passively.

On our last Annual Make a Difference Teaching Chess in Africa Trip, Luis Cuerdo asked a kid “do you know your name?” in front of the whole class. Confused as to why Luis would ask such a simple question, the student said, “yes, of course.” Luis thank asked the student what a a pin is in chess. While the student knew the answer, it took him a while to figure out how to explain it. It is not enough to the know what a pin or any other tactical theme is; it is important to review ideas many times to make sure they we know them, almost just as well as we know our name! Some good ways to repeat these ideas is to solve lots of puzzles and review whole games. You can find some good books for game collections here.

In this podcast episode, Elliott Neff shared how in chess you “win, draw” or learn.” There is no such thing as losing in chess. As long as you have a growth mindset and constantly self-reflect, there is no need to have any fears. One area I have always struggled with is last-round situations where all the money is on the line. Often a win will equate to a substantial prize and a loss will leave you with nothing at all. However, U.S Women’s World Champion Grandmaster Irina Krush recently shared on a Facebook post how you should treat each last round as any other as there will always be more last rounds. Compared to other masters, I have read very few chess games but I have improved in the game and gained confidence by playing in over 950 tournaments and reviewing all my games, by myself, with coaches and using the engine.

Draw the curtains I don’t care ’cause it’s alright
I will get by I will get by
I will get by I will survive
As the Grateful Dead teaches in “Touch of Grey”, if we set our mind to it, we can get by! The highest rated player in a tournament often will not finish in first place; the winner is usually the one who controls his emotions the most. As our close education partner Michael Deutsch tells his basketball students, they just need to say “we can do it” and the magic happens. Now, go ahead and use the 50 point rule, repetition and self reflection to be confident and win! 

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