Friday, November 11, 2005

Playing to win

What's the point of winning a game? When you think about it a win against a player of equal strength means little in retrospect. It doesn't elevate you to a new level.. It doesn't necessarily teach you more than a loss might. Many will argue to the contrary even. So, besides feeling good, what does winning a game do for you?

Of course on an isolated level, winning is the ultimate goal of the game. But to me that seems of little value. So what if you win? He might win the next time. What does it prove? What are the rewards?

Don't get me wrong I have never enjoyed losing. Quite the contrary. I have gotten carried away and been ready to throw stones at a dear friend who waited and baited me into self-atari. There has been situations were I have felt the competetive urge. But more typically I have been content in doing a close game. I tried to win, but it stayed at that. It's like running a 100meter dash. Trying to run fast won't cut it. You have to push yourself every inch of the way and really give it your best. Coming in second isn't an option!

Now, this all became the truth for me when I played my first real life tournament. Suddenly I felt that it wasn't enough to play close games to defend my rating. I had to win at least 3 out of 5 games! I would get my first EGF ranking. Winning meant proving something. This determination did alot for my game. The first game was against an opponent I hadn't played for several months, and the last time we played he gave me 5 stones. I was a little daunted as I had to take white against someone who beat me with 5 stones last we played. But I needed to win, and I did. Second game I had to give 3 stones to a 15k. He resigned in the middlegame. Third game I played an even game against a player who was typically 3 stones stronger on KGS. I won by 70 points or so. Fight after fight, I outread and proffited and a couple of big groups I outright captured. I could do no wrong.

Next day. Even game against a 10k who I had played once, and beat convincingly before. Looked like a 20 point win until... I said pass. He didn't take long to show me how wrong I was to pass. what looked like a 1 point ko was indeed something much worse. It could've been a close game, but I could feel the blood drain from my face and the moves I made after that were poorly made indeed. This rattled me greatly. Game 5 was in light of this probably lost before it even started. And it was a bittersweet matchup, since it was against a good friend who had made a terrible tournament to that match.

But I feel I grew during that tournament. Attitude, mental strength and even the desire to win are crucial to be the best you can be. Even though my goal is improving to new levels where I can enjoy the game better, I have to want to win. I have to be willing to put a little more of myself on the line. Dare to let myself vunerable to disappointment. I think I will I will grow from this as long as I'm willing to get back up every time I take a fall.

Now, my next and most difficult hurdle is to build a desire to play :)