Losing at Chess. (A Lot. And Loving It.)

A couple of months ago I started playing chess on chess.com. I hadn’t played regularly or at all seriously since school – probably 30 years or so ago. Nonetheless, being an arrogant sort I felt sure I’d pretty quickly become reasonably good.  Instead, I’ve had the far more valuable and humbling experience of consistently losing.  I’m currently on a 12-game losing streak.  Surprisingly, I am really enjoying it.
It has revealed to me just how sloppy my thinking has become. One of the lessons I took away from Richard Rumelt’s Good Strategy, Bad Strategy was the need to overcome the human tendency to go with the first plausible idea that one has. It’s far, far easier and, from my memory of Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow, seems to be how our brain has evolved to work in order to conserve energy. I found myself doing this a lot at first, and could feel the effort involved in setting aside this first seemingly reasonable move, and instead working more rigorously through the options.
I’m still struggling to make myself think more than a few moves ahead, sometimes even more than a couple, and I’m still making blunders from not thinking through the implications of a move properly.  I do feel myself developing and becoming ore disciplined in this though – slowly – and, results notwithstanding, feel myself improving. I’m not yet approaching playing strategically, but there’s definitely been an improvement in tactical play.
I’m not purely a masochist – I have taken real pleasure in the few occasions when I’ve won! – but I am also really enjoying the slightly painful way it is forcing greater rigour and discipline in my thinking, and stretching my focus and concentration.  I have no illusions that I will ever become a really good player, but with chess I’m enjoying this journey of simply trying to play better than I did last time.