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Re-assess your chess happiness!

Enjoy the process of chess - not just the results !

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Index

Introduction
What is happiness?
How does happiness relate to chess?
Step 1 - Reassessing your chess happiness needs
Step 2 - Future independent needs
Step 3 - Past independent needs 
Step 4 - Develop the happiness action plan!
Summary and conclusions
Further reading


Introduction

This article is a guide to helping you enjoy chess to the maximum. It is not about winning in chess or improving your knowledge of chess. It is simply to help you get maximum happiness from chess. 

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What is happiness?

Happiness is abstract and as such doesn't have to be heavily influenced by the past / future...

"Happiness" is an abstract concept which reflects an abstract need. People, especially those in the Western world can often afford the luxury of thinking about "happiness" as opposed to "survival". Being an abstract need, Happiness is something which can be influenced strongly by oneself. If someone wanted to, they could try to be happy now independent of their past, and perceived future. It is up to them to make the decision to be happy now. Happiness is also independent of perceived needs. The marketing and media may convince people that they need mobile phones, etc, but really people can be happy without these gadgets, as long as their basic needs are met.

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How does happiness relate to chess?

Chess is abstract

Chess is not as abstract as happiness. However it is a game which has been revolutionised over the last few years, with the advent of the Internet. It has been revolutionised to such an extent that the processes associated with chess are now very easily achievable. Chess because of its information based nature is "revolutionisable", in the same way that Music is "revolutionisable" by for example MP3.

Examples of chess revolution include:-

The point here, is that references and experiences of the past relating to chess and chess enjoyment have to put in the context of this chess revolution. People that used to be put off chess, because of the hassle of going to a chess club and not enjoying it, need to be open minded enough give chess a second chance in its new form. Also if they begin to enjoy chess in its new form, e.g. on-line chess, they may become more motivated to play in real life tournaments.

Perceived needs which may pose a threat to chess happiness

The competitive nature of chess may be getting in the way of the real happiness producing things about chess. 

Examples include:-

The pursuit of other perceived chess needs which are really not that important include the pursuit of a high chess grading or the need to continually win every game we play. 

While these result-focused goals may meet be ego-satisfying and financially rewarding, the participants involved who are hung up on rating points, prizes, and ladder positions should consider enjoying the process of chess more. Enjoying the process of chess more may be a struggle to some to find out what their basic chess happiness needs are and try and ignore the hyped up needs such as getting a high rating. 

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Step 1 - Re-assess your key chess happiness needs

In order to reassess your chess happiness, try and answer the following questions:-

Chess need
Do you enjoy the process of playing the game purely for its own sake?
Do you enjoy the process of learning to be a better player?
Do you enjoy winning?
Do you enjoy your team winning?
Do you enjoy watching games and hearing what other people are saying about the moves?
Do you enjoy doing chess websites?
Do you like to play wild sacrifices and brilliant combinations?
Do you like a nice positional game with quiet maneuvering?
Do you enjoy the social side of chess such as going to a pub after the game or drinking during the game?
Do you like arcade-style chess like 3 minute chess and 5 minute chess?
Do you like long thought out moves, sometimes thought over for days?
Do you like to see brilliant players in action, like Kasparov?
Does having a high chess grade make you happy?
Does only winning 1st or 2nd prize in a tournament make you happy?
Do you like game with lots sustained tension?
Do you enjoy checkmating your opponents king?
Do you enjoy endings?
Do you enjoy chess literature?
Do you enjoy watching the expressions on the opponents face as the game evolves?
Will you only gain happiness from chess if you become the World Champion or a grandmaster? (VERY FUTURE DEPENDENT)



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Step 2: Future independent needs

This step is about help to re-assess the answers you provided to the above with respect to how conditional they are on future outcomes.

Chess happiness without conditions....

The only things you can be certain of in life, and in chess, is NOW! If you can enjoy the process of simply playing the game of chess, independent of the result, then this is great! That time was not wasted. You enjoyed that time playing that game. Happiness in chess stands more of a chance if it is qualified by less things. 

Enjoy chess for its own sake is a great goal, and therefore making happiness of chess as independent of grading systems, past results, future chess ambitions as possible is a logical step. You may not obtain your chess goals and ambitions, and if you do not, then those chess playing moments have disappeared forever, without you achieving the desired happiness.

I will only be happy in chess when I become world chess champion...

In the extreme, you will only be happy when you are chess world champion. If this is the case, you are very likely to be disappointed, because there a large number of strong Grandmasters in this world. Examples include Kasparov, Karpov, Kramnik, Short, Adams, Speelman, etc..

I will only be happy in chess when I become a grandmaster....

At a slightly lesser extreme, you may only allowing yourself to be happy from chess if you achieve a chess title - such as the "Grandmaster" title. Unfortunately because of this heavy condition, what if you spent many years playing chess in the hope of achieving the sought after title, but died before achieving it. Your gravestone would read "This person would have enjoyed chess if he/she had become a grandmaster". 

If your happiness in chess is qualified by the future, then you may think to yourself, that you will never be a Grandmaster. Therefore you will always be a bunny or a fish. But so what? You may find yourself turning down opportunities to play for your local club, because your grading went down from last year, and you cannot be bothered any more with chess. Instead why don't you forgot your chess ambitions for the future and just concentrate on really enjoying every game of chess you play. 

I will only be happy in chess if I have a high chess grading....

In a lesser extreme, do you consider that having a high chess grade is a fundamental happiness producing chess need of yours. If it is then you may be in for a rough ride until you reach that grading. You may never achieve the high chess grading which will give you chess happiness. If you place less emphasis on gradings, greater chess playing happiness may result!


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Step 3 - Past independent needs

Look at those chess needs independent of the past - look at them in the light of the way chess has been revolutionised! Chess is now an anybody, any time and any place game! Changes in the environment, such as technology, databases, and other things may give good reason to re-assess chess avenues that stopped being attractive to you in the past. 

Examples include:-

In summary because of the chess revolution that has occurred, there is a case for reconsidering past chess decisions and avenues of interest. The environment may have changed to make those chess needs much more easily attainable and enjoyable. In particular, the Internet is reshaping chess enjoyment. You can easily see play anybody around the world on the various chess playing servers; play through the latest games from tournaments around the world; easily shop for the latest books, and see book reviews, and what other people thought of books; and much more. Chess, because it is an information based game, has benefited enormously from Information Technology, and especially the Internet.

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Step 4 - Develop the happiness action plan!

Here are some suggestions related to the audit of chess happiness above.

Do you enjoy the process of playing the game purely for its own sake?

Great! Because this goal is future-independent, it is much more achievable than some of the other goals. You may also be able to increase your enjoyment of the process of playing chess !

Do you enjoy the process of learning to be a better player?

This is a great goal, because it is independent of winning and losing. Losing is a great opportunity to learn more about chess. The Great chess player Capablanca really sought to learn from any losses he had. If you take a learning perspective to losses, then you will be less hurt by losing, and more able to see it as a positive learning experience. You will even think about playing in strong tournaments which you suspect you will be badly beaten, but you also suspect you have maximum opportunities to learn.

Do you enjoy winning?

Do you enjoy your team winning?

Just as rewarding as winning for oneself can be if the team we are in wins.

Do you enjoy watching games and hearing what other people are saying about the moves?

Do you enjoy doing chess websites?

Do you like to play wild sacrifices and brilliant combinations? 

Do you like a nice positional game with quiet maneuvering? 

Do you enjoy the social side of chess such as going to a pub after the game or drinking during the game?

Do you like arcade-style chess like 3 minute chess and 5 minute chess? 

Do you like long thought out moves, sometimes thought over for days? 

Do you like to see brilliant players in action, like Kasparov? 

Does having a high chess grade make you happy? 

Does only winning 1st or 2nd prize in a tournament make you happy?

Does earning chess titles make you happy?

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Summary and conclusions

This paper discussed how to get the most of chess for the benefit of your chess happiness. It recommends re-assessing your chess needs in the light of the dramatic changes in technology that have occurred, and the new avenues and opportunities that chess now offers as a result. It recommends critically examining your chess needs from the point of view of how future-dependent they are. Those chess needs which are based on the NOW are argued to be more valuable, because they place less emphasis on conditions which may never be met. It finally looks at developing a concrete action plan on the needs which you consider to be important for enjoying chess to its absolute maximum!

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Further reading

Being Happy! by Andrew Matthews (An international bestseller and the inspiration for this chess related article)

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