In reading the lives of great men, I found that the first victory they won was over themselves… self-discipline with all of them came first. – Harry S Truman
He that ruleth his spirit [is greater] than he that taketh a city. – Proverbs 16:32
U.S. President Harry S Truman (1945-1953) played chess on a bigger stage than most of us, but his advice has applicability to our art. While the technical craft of chess is a never-ending learning experience, the one ability precious above all others in chessplay is self-control.
Tying for first this past weekend in the Colorado Senior Championship (50 and over) was, for me, a triumph of self-control, a lesson learned late in life, at least as it pertains to chess. If there is one personal improvement tip I can offer up on Chess Improver out of my meager trove , it is that a certain conquest of one’s somatic being is essential in order to remain on point, to examine the variations fully, dispassionately, and without regard to any factor external to the chess struggle.
Here is my best game from that contest. My opponent makes one “funny” move, 4. h3, followed by a weak move, 12. Rc1. As Black equalizes, White loses his self-control and enters into an unsound sacrificial continuation 18. Bxb5, which might have succeeded had Black played 19 … Qb6 instead of 19 … Qb8.