Board game: Make the right move

An article from Economic TImes


IT IS not everyday that the world’s greatest in the most popular game of the mind lets you in on moves that will help you excel in the business world. So pause and take a deep breath. Be prepared to chew on every word said, for every sentence could be a rung to rise in the corporate world. Viswanathan Anand, the just crowned king of chess, gave a master class to ETon how to become the best in business. Vishy Anand occupied centrestage in the Indian chess scene when he became the youngest Indian to win the international master title at the age of 15 years, in 1984. He went on to win more titles since. The crowning glory came this year in Mexico City, when Anand became the undisputed world chess champion. One will expect a sportsperson to use the most eloquent terms to weave business and chess. However, Anand chose to bring out the parallels in a simple, straightforward manner frequently interspersed with examples and anecdotes. Some of them may seem counterintuitive. Take for example: “A lot of chess players get too absorbed in the game, and try to get to the bottom of it. But, that’s essentially a distraction.” This may fly in the face of perfectionists — it’s not the perfectionists who get the market share, but those who give the right stuff at the right time. Take his views on tension — it helps you concentrate and be alert. Those who espouse relaxation and wellness classes may disagree. But it’s the likes of Anand who keep chanting ‘I should not relax’ who manage to conquer world championships. Anand gives the readers of ET seven lessons — simple and powerful. Know what your goals are: Seeking perfection may be a distraction: In chess, you have to learn what your goal is. Win the game, score points. It is a fascinating game and you can get lost in it. But the goal is not to make the perfect move, not to get into the bottom of a position. It’s simply to trick the opponent to win the game. Again, you have to make your best decisions in two hours. A lot of chess players get too absorbed in the game and try to get to the bottom of it. But, that’s essentially a distraction. Strive for objectivity: You may be optimistic or pessimistic, but be realistic: In chess, two players can look at the same position and come up with completely different ideas. But, if you are excessively optimistic or pessimistic, you will lose many points. Few chess players tend to feel lucky, and decide they can take a gamble. But even then, you must know where you stand. First analyse your position and get an objective feel of it. Objectivity is a face you show to yourself. In the heat of the game, it’s difficult to be objective. You tend to get emotional. So, it’s important to analyse after a chess game. Remember, an advantage need not be an advantage at all times. Being realistic is not easy. It demands constant analytical work. Be merciless with yourself. That is when you grow as a chess player. Feel the pressure, but don’t worry about things you can’t control: Tension helps you concentrate well. Being relaxed may be dangerous. Often, after a wild success you will have a failure. Winning the fifth round recently, relaxed me so much that I lost the next two. You may say, I shouldn’t relax. But it’s difficult. Performance goes down with satisfaction. When you have that feeling, you will not think of the optimal move. You will make easy moves. When you are relaxed, you are offguard, your sense of danger comes down. After every success you should be wary of becoming too relaxed. The way out is to be engrossed. There is no point in worrying about things you can’t control. Know your opponent: What is his goal, what are his favourite lines, is he deviating, why? Look beyond the board: Chess is all about applying game theory. You always think in terms of what your opponent will do, how he will respond. Again, in chess, most people specialise in something. Nobody does everything. Understanding that is important. If your opponent does something out of his normal range, ask why? And the answer could be — he’s now trying to specialise in a new area; he’s trying to expand his game; his favourite line, at the moment, is in trouble and he’s not done repair work or he could be bluffing. Analysis and sharpen intuition: Intuition is often used as a substitute for calculation. If there is some move that’s winning, and you know it’s winning, that’s not intuition. Intuition is when you make leaps into the dark. But it’s very difficult to draw lines between intuition and strategic thinking. If you calculate a lot, even if you don’t get till the end, your guess is going to be better. Expand your horizons: There may be gems in the garbage you have discarded: In chess, humans generally analyse two positions per second. Computers can analyse two-three million positions per second. Even at two positions per second, we can compete with computers. If something doesn’t work six out of 10 times, we discard it. But computers constantly look for unusual moves. We discard the rubbish efficiently. But that rubbish is not all rubbish. There could be a lot of gems in that. Very often a computer will tell you something that challenges your opinion. When you lose, move on to the next battle: Handling defeat is usually just impossible. You are totally depressed and the defeat is going over and over like a tape in your head. It’s useful to learn to be disciplined and put it out of your head. Perhaps it’s in business life as well. You have to say ‘okay, this battle is over’ and move on to the next one.

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Vocab Power Updated Daily

  • COBBLED - Repair or mend
  • ABHORRENCE - Hate coupled with disgust
  • INCUMBENCY - The term during which some position is held
  • MITIGATE -Lessen or to try to lessen the seriousness or extent of
  • dubious - Open to doubt or suspicion
  • FOSTERING - Encouragement; aiding the development of something
  • ELICIT- Call forth (emotions, feelings, and responses)
  • PLAUSIBLE - Apparently reasonable and valid, and truthful
  • FORGE - Move ahead steadily
  • BOLSTER (V)-Support and strengthen
  • ECCENTRIC- A person with an unusual or odd personality
  • PATRONAGE - The act of providing approval and support
  • IMPERVIOUS - Not admitting of passage or capable of being affected

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