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I recently sat down with world champion chess player Sergei Lobatomov as he explained his five secrets for reaching the top of his game. Although he comes from the world of chess, Sergei’s insights can be applied to any endeavor.
Here is Sergei in his own words:
The top of your game is a subjective term. If you set your “top” to be 10 year olds who don’t play chess, you’ll reach your goals faster.
Identify the worst players near you and beat them over and over again. This will make you feel much better about yourself. You’ll feel like you’re at the top of your game even if you’re not.
Pay off opponents who are better than you. You could waste time by practicing but these days, who has the time? A few extra numbers in someone’s account makes for a stress free match. Pro tip: Use a low interest credit card to take out a personal cash advance. Don’t worry. Look at it as an investment in your future.
Learn what the queen can do. After 17 years of playing chess I finally asked someone and it has revolutionized the game for me. I was like, really? Any direction?
Learn to think several steps ahead of your opponent. For example, when I think my opponent is catching on that I’m cheating by moving his pawns when he’s not looking, I anticipate his anger and subsequent reaction of punching me in the face. This allows me to excuse myself to go to the bathroom where I slip out of the window and order an Uber.
Even mental athletes need physical exercise. I went to the gym last month and won a game yesterday. Aside from my expert level skill in chess, I attribute the win to my superior physique. I’m not entirely sure why though.
Try playing speed chess. Speed chess is a unique version of the game where players have to make their move in a certain amount of time. Playing with a time limit gives you a built-in excuse for losing. You never want to admit you opponent is a better player than you. Doing so dilutes people’s perception of you being the best.
It’s better to blame it on the stress of an arbitrary time limit. Explain that your mind works best unfettered by such constraints. And if it weren’t for that constant ticking, you would have run away with the match.
Onlookers will be impressed by your insightful self-analysis. They will assume that everything you said is true (chess players are all brilliant) and will eagerly await a rematch where you can prove your true abilities. Of course you should never show up for rematches because the potential for humiliation is too high.
Before I end I want to leave you with this final question. Why do you want to play chess anyway? You have so much to live for. But who am I to judge? You do what you want. Just remember you must be motivated to achieve great heights in the game of chess.
Your motivation should come from a deep seated desire to be a top competitor. That, or the need to pay back your bookie with tournament winnings so he doesn’t break your legs.