He who seeketh, findeth

August 12, 2007

Wisdom from the game of Chess

Filed under: Life Lessons from Chess,Reason for Breathing,Thoughts and Reflections — Steve (Chessiq) @ 1:15 am

We know from playing Chess that a “check” is not a checkmate. It is just a bump in life. Take care of it, and the game continues. What other checks do we get in life, and what do we do about them? (It is for you to answer.)

We know from playing Chess that sometimes it just doesn’t rain, it pours. Your King may come under the most vicious of attacks, and when you address those attacks, the calm comes. What attacks have come into your life, and how have you handled them?

We know from Chess that it is not over until it’s over. If you think it’s over, that you are set or damned for life, you may be disappointed. If you give up too soon, you may be disheartened further by the realization that there was a creative way to resolve your game (position). If you celebrate too soon, the victory may be ripped from your hands. When in your life have you come to a point of giving up, what did you do? Do you celebrate too soon?

We know from playing Chess that there are up and downs, and we take them in our stride. We enjoy the journey. (There is no destination? May be each game is a journey and a destination.) Do you enjoy the journey of life?

We know from Chess that we have to focus on this game. Give this game all you have. In life, do you give each day all the attention it needs. Do you just focus on just this day and do the best you can on this particular day?

We know from Chess, that each move deserves all the attention; we cannot choose and pick when to pay attention. How about the tasks of this day? Do you give each one special attention, completing it to the best of your ability? As if the life of the day depended on it?

We know from Chess that we cannot just live for today, that we make preparations for the future: you develop your pieces well, you coordinate your pieces, you try to predict the future and act accordingly. In life, how strong is your foundation? Are you living this day as if it’s your last, trading the futures happiness for today’s?

We know from Chess that for most of us, to be good, we have to perspire a lot. In life, do we perspire to get where we want?

We know from Chess that we don’t create gems from nothing, that we build brilliancies move by move. What are our expectations of life? How are we building our dreams?

We know from Chess that we play to win, and we give our best and hope for a miracle win when we face a much higher rated player. In life, do we get up each morning with a winning attitude? Do we still hope for the miracle win when we face the seemingly insurmountable?

I am not saying Chess is life, or “life is like the game of chess”, but we can get a lot of Wisdom by meditating on the game of Chess.


Does God answer sports prayers?

Filed under: Life Lessons from Chess,Meditation,Thoughts and Reflections — Steve (Chessiq) @ 12:48 am

There were times when I knew things were beyond my control when I played sports/games, especially Chess. So I would go to Church to pray. Usually during Mass, I would make sure I confessed all my sins, and asked God to bestow his favor and grace upon me or my team so that we would win whatever game(s) we had. There were also times when I prayed during the game itself. Most of the time, my prayers were answered in the affirmative. I would then thank God quickly (as usual!) and move on to the next thing.

I was meditating on this, and I wondered, what if all these people that I competed against prayed too? Did they reach a conclusion that God does not answer (sports) prayers? Was I an exception? Of course, there were a couple of things that worked in my favor: I worked hard, I was somewhat good at basketball, soccer, and volleyball, and I was pretty good at Chess. How about the times I prayed for an exam to be easy enough for me to get an A? May be I was somewhat smart enough?! Anyway, let’s stick to sports.

Why would God answer my prayer and not the other guy’s? Is it because I have more faith? Why doesn’t He spread out the love? This guy wins today, the other wins tomorrow? Does He get involved? Why would He get involved in sports? For people who play any game, they usually end up saying: it’s only a game! So if it’s just a game, why would God be involved? How about people who play these games as professionals? It ceases to be a game, I believe. It is work. It is livelihood. Is it okay if they pray? Is it okay if God answers only those prayers by professionals? What if professionals of different teams are praying to win? Does He offer a draw (based on faith)? It must be tough to be God! May be not. I don’t know.

I believe God answered my sports prayers. I don’t know why He did it. I don’t believe He owes me an explanation. I am glad he answered my prayers the way He did; both when He said “No” and when He said “Yes”.

Will I pray again? Yes! For sports? Yes! Will answer my prayer? I don’t know!

What are your thoughts on God and sports prayers?

What are you giving up your life for? (Parallels between Life and Chess# 4)

Filed under: Life Lessons from Chess — Steve (Chessiq) @ 12:25 am

“Life energy” is a term or concept that is introduced in (Chapter 2 of) Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin. Simply put, when we spend time for something (money, for example) we give up time to do it. The effort and time spent is life energy. So if you are spending spending time – past, present and future – unwisely, you are wasting your life away.

My definition of time:

Past time: Time that you cannot claim because it’s gone. The only way to show something for it is what from what you currently ‘own’ from your past efforts.

Present time: The now. It will be gone before you know it, and you will know whether you wasted it or not when you need to show what you have from the past at a future point in time.

Future time: It is yet to come. However, you can decide now how you want to live/spend that time.

Parallel#4 is to analyze how you spend your money/time. When you play (competitive) Chess, you record your moves. Serious players go home and play through the recorded game. They can then tell if they missed an opportunity to win more quickly. If there are some mistakes that they made and they should learn from and not repeat. This is an example of analyzing the past time in the present time to affect the future time.

Analyzing your expenses will show you how you are spending money. This money is what you gave up your life for (at work). Whatever you buy with that money is worth your life. Now, THINK: what are you giving up your life for?

Add a Third Constant to Your Life: Thinking

Filed under: Life Lessons from Chess,Thoughts and Reflections — Steve (Chessiq) @ 12:24 am

Depending on who you speak to or read, you may be told that there is only one constant: Change.

Others will say, Time. (I haven’t read the theories of relativity… Is time a constant? Let’s assume it is!)

So we have two constants – I.M.H.O!

I would like to add a third – that is important to us all: THINKING.

A constant is something that remains the same while other things are changing – (other people even consider “love” a constant.) No comment. So, we can make THINKING a constant in our lives by continuously thinking about stuff that matter to us. May be even think about what it is that matters to us. For example, you could start with a question like, “Why Do I Want to be Happy?” then “What is Happiness for Me?” then “What Can I Do/Not Do to be Happy?” It is a good starting point especially if you write down your answers.

Like most things in life, you have to keep doing it to get better. You have to practice thinking. Don’t just ask the questions, you have to come up with answers to the best of your ability. You can even spare 10 to 15 minutes every day where you sit down and write your thoughts. This is for your benefit. You don’t have to show your notes to anybody. In due time, you will not even have to think about thinking.

If you get really good at it, you will be like a good Chess player. In Chess, you cannot take a break from thinking. The times that I switched off my brain during a Chess game, I paid for it dearly. Thinking is a constant in our game. Chess players think without thinking about it. What a good habit! One of my favorite writers, PICK THE BRAIN, wrote a nice piece about THINKING FOR YOURSELF . Try it, it works!

My 101 Goals in 1001 Days (Parallels between Life and Chess #11: Goal Setting)

Filed under: Life Lessons from Chess — Steve (Chessiq) @ 12:03 am

I assume that everybody knows the importance of goal setting in life- if not in life (outside Chess), then at least in Chess. Way back when I used to play in (local) tournaments regularly, I would decide in advance what my goals were. My goal would either be to win the tournament (almost invariably the goal), or be in the top x, to be guaranteed prize money, or just to have fun. The last one almost meant I would watch, help with organizing and play casual games. The goals helped me to focus when I was playing. Every move I made was driving me towards my goal of winning the tournament. A time came when the money didn’t matter, but the reputation did. In life, I set goals, even though I don’t always follow through. That is the one thing I am changing. That every goal is written down for a reason and it has to be attained if I can help it. Below is my list of 101 goals to be accomplished in the next 1001 days.

This is not an original idea. I believe I first saw it at Get Rich Slowly. Actually, I started my list several weeks ago. I haven’t decided what I will do for every goal that I don’t attain at the end of the 1001 days. I guess as I become more technically sophisticated, I will add a counter to see how much time is remaining, and something against each goal to show whether the goal has been attained or not. I do not believe I will write about why I/you need to have goals. I will probably include links in the near future:

These goals are meaningful to ME. Some of them are not original at all.

Here come my goals:

1. Let go of “attachments”.

2. Call family at least once a week.

3. Forgive and forget past hurts.

4. Pass CPA exams within the next year.

5. Read the Bible cover to cover.

6. Get married.

7. Speed up my reading (need to come up with wpm here…)

8. Speed up my typing (need to come up with wpm here…)

9. Keep in touch with all my friends at least once a month. Will do a list and check mark when done.

10. Save $AE,000.00 (Strive for $E00.00/month – I have the figures!) -)

11. Drink water as the only beverage for 52 weeks.

12. Devote 1 month to each of “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.”

13. Get up (Out of Bed) at 6am or earlier at least 5 days a week.

14. Get rid of physical, emotional, social, intellectual, spiritual clutter in my life. I will start with the physical, and then move to the other aspects.

15. Get FICO score >=GE0 (I know the credit score I am shooting for…)

16. Buy a house.

17. Visit family.

18. Spend a day at an aquarium.

19. Go to Las Vegas.

20. Go to Grand Canyon.

21. Go to Yellowstone National Park(?).

22. Write my Mission Statement.

23. Dance (Slow Dance) once a month.

24. Cook for more than 10 people.

25. Go on a “family trip” with my friends.

26. Be/Live Clean (physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally.)

27. Help 10 people reach their goals.

28. Work as volunteer.

29. Play blindfold simultaneous Chess.

30. Learn about meditation and meditate for 15 minutes every day for 30 days.

31. Do 75 sit-ups in one go. (Believe it or not, I am not even close here!)

32. Read an Economics book from cover to cover.

33. Read a Statistics book from cover to cover.

34. Practice keyboarding (music) once a week for 52 weeks – one hour per session.

35. Spend one week without watching TV.

36. Read world news at BBC everyday.

37. Say the rosary for 60 days straight.

38. Get to work by 7 a.m. every day for one month.

39. Clean up dishes before going to bed for 60 days straight.

40. Use only 1 light bulb at a time for 1 month. (Only light that’s on will be the one in the room/area I am working in.)

41. Take stuff that I don’t use to Salvation Army or the Red Cross.

42. Buy a new DVD player for my family.

43. Send money to cousins.

44. Eat healthier//Buy food from Trader Joe’s or Global Foods or Farmer’s Markets.

45. Go through VCR’s to see what’s on them and get rid of what I will never watch again//Related to clutter goal.

46. Run for 30 minutes every day for 1 month.

47. Shoot and make 25 straight free-throws (basketball).

48. Spend no more than 10 minutes per day doing personal stuff at work.

49. Stay 15 days straight without complaining or saying something negative.

50. Memorize the beatitudes.

51. Memorize the Apostle’s Creed and 5 other Catholic Prayers.

52. Go to church every Sunday for 6 months.

53. Clear desk at work. Only work should be what’s in my in-basket.

54. Don’t carry work home for 3 months.

55. Take food to work for 1 month.

56. Watch over 25 movies from the library.

57. Go to the library at least once a week.

58. Buy a new computer (preferably laptop) from non-work sources or non-emergency fund sources.

59. Track every cent that I spend/earn for 3 months.

60. Balance check book at least once a week.

61. Get a nice gift for friends/family who are getting married.

62. Avoid late fees (Library, Bank, etc.) and tickets (traffic) for 1 year.

63. Review my goals at least once a day.

64. Keep learning about going green (saving the Earth). Keep a list of things I can do and adopt what I can.

65. Learn about 401K, Index Funds, Vanguard 500, etc. Keep learning about financial stuff.

66. Repair seal for my car’s windshield.

67. Remove stains on car seats… May be buy seat covers.

68. Get car window fixed (power button not working… NOW YOU KNOW WHAT SHAPE MY CAR IS IN!!)

69. Get a license plate put at the rear of the car.

70. Invest in some fund/Vanguard 500 per simple dollar. Need to read how this works first.

71. Find real wage rate//Life Energy spend on items etc. per “Your Life or Your Money”.

72. Think/Act positively.

73. Sell items on ebay.

74. Find mentors (Trent is one of them).

75. Blog my life so far.

76. Review daily goals:

a) Leave Clean

b) Pray

c) Balance check book

d) Track expenses

e) Speed read self-development book (1 chapter)

f) CPA test prep

g) CPA study

h) CPA Audio

i) Clean/Organize home for at least 15 minutes

j) Meditate

k) Evaluate day

l) Plan next day

m) Thou hast to write for blog

77. Eliminate procrastination

78. Reflect on what it means to be made in the image of God. How do I reflect the character of God in life. (idea from 101 ways to make a difference today.)

79. Analyze Bobby Fischer’s games. (Fischer move by move).

80. Start a blog /// Get my own domain.

81. Learn HTML and other stuff in order to better manage my website and writing.

More to come -)

82. Finish Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life. (Goal added 6.11.07)

More to come…

83. Revisit my life and come up with at least 50 things that happened to me that I didn’t deserve. Things that I would call luck or whatever. Meditate on these and hopefully be humbled by the experience. (Goal added 6.12.07)

More to come…

84. Be a CHUCK (Goal added 6/12/07)

More to come…

Do you have goals to share? How are you doing? What has been your motivating factor/factors?

August 11, 2007

Chess Greats as Mentors in Life

Filed under: Life Lessons from Chess — Steve (Chessiq) @ 11:42 pm

Early on in life, as much as I wanted to be the World Chess Champion some day, I knew that a lot of things would have to go my way for it to happen. What if I didn’t make it to GrandMaster? Or International Master? Or Master? What would I be if I didn’t have anything to show for my efforts at the chessboard? What if I could not support myself with Chess? That was always depressing because it took me a long time to figure out what I was good at. Even today, I still have my doubts. Whether my accounting knowledge is good enough? If I become a CPA, will I be just another CPA? What impact will I have on kids’ life? etc.

Despite the doubts, I kept playing Chess, and because I loved the game, I read about other Chess players, especially the greats. I saw that we (Chess players) have great Engineers, Architects, Mathematians, Physicists, Musicians, Ph.D s, M.D.s etc – the list goes on. The people who love chess go on to do other things. Life isn’t just about Chess. I can’t believe I said that because Chess was my everything at one point. I still think that I will get back to it some day. I have talked about the chess greats, but there are a million other people whom we do not read about their chess accomplishments but they are or were very good, but they went on to do other things without losing their love for the game.

While writing this piece I decided to research and come up with a comprehensive list of Chess players and what they did for a living in addition to playing Chess. Luckily, I found a nice piece written by Leopold Lacrimosa at Chessville

What I am trying to say is that I looked at all these people, and told myself that I had to have a back up plan to Chess. I had to work hard at school – -) I had to make sure that I was good enough to make it in college and graduate school. I had to develop the skills that are needed to survive in the work place. Just in case. Here I am not yet a World Chess Champion, but I am paying my bills and looking forward to a brighter day every day/night.

Who were/are your mentors? Were you ever at crossroads between chess and life? What did you do?

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