The Root of the Problem

After losing a chess game, a beginner will often ask “Where did I go wrong?” The truth is most often a player will not lose a game because of 1 bad move. While it is true one major blunder can ruin a game, generally speaking a better player wins because he makes better moves to than his opponent on the whole. Tomorrow on the 10th of Tevet ,Jews observe a minor fast as it was this day in 3336/590 BCE when the Babylonian Emperor Nebuchadnezzar  layed seize of Jerusalem.  30 months later the temple was destroyed and the Jews were exiled to Babylon for 70 years. This fast day teaches us the importance of going back to the initial step, as taught by the Manhattan Jewish Experience.

At Kotel During Selichot Services in August 2018 When analyzing with my coach Grandmaster Leonid Yudasin, I would often state I lost a game because of a simple blunder. While such statements had some wait, Yudasin would force me to figure out each time specifically why I made such mistakes. More often than not, there would be clear answers, such as I was distracted thinking of something unrelated to the board, I got overconfident and misevaluated the position, etc.

Consider this game I played against International Master Max Cornejo in the 2012 Northern California Interational:

One can state I simply lost this game because I made a blunder,  making  20. Bxe6, an unsound sacrifice. I absentmindedly played the sacrifice, thinking I could either create a perpetual or take enough pawns to make the piece sacrifice work. However the two pawns I ended up getting piece were certainly not sufficient for the piece.

In reality, I made my first major mistake of the game several moves earlier  as I played 14. d4. I was in too much of a rush to open up my bishop on f1 and free the rest of the pieces. Had I played a3, with the simple plan of taking advantage of the queen being exposed on a5 by playing b4, I would have had a better position.

A few moves later, I allowed a domino effect by making a much bigger mistake. I should have not overthink my options and made a normal developing move like 20. Rad1 when white’s position would be fine. I should have reassessed the position and realized it was just equal.

Just like in chess, businesses should constantly re-evaluate their positions. Blockbuster collapsed because over time it failed to innovate like its competitior Netflix. No longer were its clients interested in going into the store and taking out a film.  Blockbuster should have performed more market research on its customer base and realize what changes would be necessary to maintain a decent market share. That is why yellow cabs today need to continue to develop technologies, lower cost, and become more convenient if they want to compete with Uber, Lyft Via, etc.

Similarly in negotiation, one will go nowhere with his opponent if all he does is repeat his side of an argument:

Person A: ”I need the $100 right now.” 

Person B: “No you do not.”

Person A: “Yes, I do.”

Person B: “ You most definitely not.”

Person A and B will get no where if all they do is essentially say “yes” and “no”. In Getting to Yes, Roger Fisher and William Ury explain the importance of focusing on interests, not positions. Likewise, in a chess game, one should not just look at where he blundered but figure out the fundamental mistakes/misevaluations he made that led up to the final losing move.

24 thoughts on “The Root of the Problem”

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