Rival Revival

That’s what chess is all about. One day you give your opponent a lesson, the next day he gives you one – Bobby Fischer

Today I want to talk about the idea of having rivals in chess.

In today’s politically correct world, we often hear about things like “participation ribbons”, and the idea that “everyone is a winner”.
Participation Ribbon 
In this bizzarro world, there are no winners and losers, everyone is equally good, and the most important thing is that no one’s feelings are hurt, and their self esteem is boosted at every opportunity, reminding them that they are a special snowflake.

For a lot of people from the “old school” these ideas make them sick to their stomach. 
I think having rivals is good. 

I think clearly winning and losing is good. 

If you want to build your self esteem, listen to some Tony Robbins tapes.
 The sports world has lots of famous rivalries.  There is even a Wikipedia page that lists them: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_sports_rivalries.

There have been studies that show having a rival can boost performance. Kasparov has said that his rivalry with Karpov made him a much stronger player than he would have been without this rivalry.
 Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov in 1984
My friend Paul Anderson keeps a “list of enemies”, which is a tip he learned from Richard Nixon.
 I have had rivals over the years in the chess world, and they have motivated me to play my best, and were often some of my closest friends off the board.
So don’t be afraid of having rivals.  They can help take your game to the next level.


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4 thoughts on “Rival Revival

  1. Having a rival was very important to my chess development. I might not have entered the world of tournament chess had it not been for a coworker who wanted some one to play chess with at work during breaks and lunchs.

    I’ve told this story several times now, and may have even mentioned it to you once. I told my coworker that I wasn’t a real chess player, that I had learned the moves when I was about 8 years old and had played only a hand full of games up to that time. I was 24 then.

    When we first played I won two out of the first three games. After that I went a solid week without winning a single game! We usually played a couple games a day, and friend started announcing the various openings we were playing. I had no idea they had names! Once I learned that, and because I had beat him a couple games, I figured I needed to do some study to get better. That’s when I started buying and studying chess books. To keep this story short, within a year I was beating him all the time. He directed and competed in our annual workplace chess tournament, and over the years I was paired against him 9 times and didn’t lose a single game. I’m kind of proud of that small accomplishment.

    It was my competition with him that pushed me to be a better player. It was also valuable having him as a friend, because he introduced me to correspondence and over-the-board tournament chess. This all started back during the Fischer boom in 1972. I’ve been playing every since, and now daily on the Internet.

    Anyway, the point is that having a rivalry with another chess player can definitely push you to a higher level, whether it be grandmasters against each other or two wood pushers like myself and my friend. Rivalries are good.

  2. Nice little article. And I agree. Since shortly after joining http://www.chess.com, I made friends with and have been battling ipspatski there. So far, we have played 14 games (7-7-0) and have another in the works. As soon as one ends, whoever lost challenges the other. We aren’t complete rivals in some senses. We share other games and tidbits of chess knowledge with each other. Anyway, just wanted to add my 2 cents worth and say YES! :)

  3. What more should be added? :)

    I have a friend and we are rivalry since 1997. I bet a few years ago that he will not beat me (in a tournament game with obligatory score – I mean “classical game”) up to 2020. I have played him many time – but in tournaments with classical games just 6-7 times. I have drawn a few bad looking games and escaped with one miracle (some might say “swindle”). Every time we play against each other – I am pushing my level to the highest of my abilities.
    Just one final note: I have to stress (underline), that we respect each other – no matter what is the score and how great/bad we were playing. It is a king of mutual respect and knowing that we compete to our benefits – not destroying.

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