When I talk to people about chess often a remark will be made about needing to be intelligent to be good at the game. Certainly, being smart and having to exercise your brain really helps you in the game, but I’d argue that experience matters more than intelligence itself. Just like any game in order to be good in chess you need to get good by playing the game. There is no shortcut to becoming great in chess other than to play the game and learn from your mistakes.
In elementary school there was an afterschool chess club that I joined and us kids would play against each other. I don’t remember ever being thought anything like principles of the game, I think I got more of that from my father, but I was able to win at first and I enjoyed myself. But of course, sooner or later I was going to suffer big loses, and I my last game in the club I swiped the pieces off the board and left crying. I’d play the game again off and on, but I haven’t played seriously until late last year.
Gopher and Tuker Lucy did a let’s play of It Takes Two and in one episode of their Let’s Play they played a game of chess. This led to a lot of my online friends and I playing Chess on Lichess. I was losing most of the time, but I didn’t take it as bad decades ago, and it also impossible to swipe the pieces off the board in a online game. A bug bit me, I wanted to get better at the game, so I looked up videos on YouTube and found agadmator’s Chess Channel. His videos are incredible, and I’d argue he posts the best chess videos on the platform.
I made an account on Chess.com and jumped into rapid games, and I had a hard time winning games. I was losing some games to someone playing a Joker’s Mate, and that’s embarrassing! I needed help and searched on YouTube again, that’s when I found Levy Rozman’s GothamChess channel and watched his video on stopping early queen attacks. His videos have really helped me improve in chess, it’s great to see grandmasters games, but his Guess The Elo series and how to win at chess helped me see what I was doing wrong in games that are being played at my level.
I had gotten really frustrated with losing streaks, but I didn’t want to just throw in the towel like I did back when I was in the elementary school’s chess club. I decided I needed to find another YouTube video, and that’s when I discovered Ben Finegold. He pointed out it’s necessary to play games and analyze them. And I remember a video Levy did pointing out that it’s impossible to get better without playing the game and losing. Everyone suffers a loss, even Magnus Carlson. The key to getting better was learning from the mistakes you made.
Chess is like any other game, like many things in life, if you don’t try and work at it, you’re not going to get good at it. Sure, there’s prodigies but they had to play and learn the game as well. What I’m saying here is there’s probably no reason you couldn’t be good at chess, unless you just don’t enjoy the game. I don’t believe people are born any more or less intelligent, some people just have an advantage because they are a member of the lucky sperm club, or they have a great family. If you’re bad at chess and you want to get better, I believe it’s absolutely possible.
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