SGChess Blog #2 – Building a Winning Mentality – A Champion’s Mindset

October 11, 2023

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The Singapore Chess Federation and SGChessHub@JurongSpring collaborated to bring a debut forum for chess players and parents.

Titled ‘Building a Winning Mentality – A Champion’s Mindset’, our guest speakers shared their experiences, with tips on how to evolve one’s mindset to become not just a better chess player, but also a resilient individual in overcoming the many hurdles and obstacles in life.

Forum host GM Kevin Goh kickstarted the forum with some over-the-board real life examples drawn from his chess career. He emphasised how one’s mindset can switch instantaneously during a game, and shared critical moments where his confidence turned to self-defeating despair when games were seemingly lost. However, post-game analyses revealed that there were resources available to convert or draw the game had he maintained focus and composure. GM Kevin also drew examples from GM Jingyao, who in the face of losing battles, would always find ways to complicate the game and refused to gift his opponent an easy win. This all-or-nothing mindset in the face of strong opposition is a decisive factor in games.

In the second segment, our host interviewed guest speaker and SEA Games medalist, WGM Gong Qianyun, who is well known in the chess community having won 9 National Championships under her belt. We got insight on how the mother of two does not force a strict regimen onto her children and emphasised that kids should innately grow to love the game (a stark contrast to her olden training days of forced toilet scrubbing). Qianyun also revealed how she places her mind in serenity before a game and does not allow trivialities like rating differences throw off her principle of treating every opponent with utmost seriousness and respect. She also shared that her sense of independence and responsibility came from her childhood, when she left her family to join the Guangdong team at a very young age.

The interview segment transitioned into a presentation by GM Andrey Kvon, who in his ten years of spending time in Singapore, drew comparisons to his upbringing in Uzbekistan. The guest speaker, at many times, jokingly chided parents for influencing their children’s mindset and recounted many anecdotes on how he heard parents discussing how people in certain countries are more naturally gifted at the game – a fallacy which Andrey was not shy in lambasting. He also pointed out many myths about ratings and titles, and why he feels there is an over-emphasis on these things for young children in Singapore.

In the third segment, we introduced Ms Levyn Wong, who despite not having a background in chess, broke myths surrounding the Singaporean Kiasu mentality on giving up sports during examination time – Ms Levyn proved that it is possible to have success in both academics and sports simultaneously if one structures his/her time properly and diligently follows the timetable set. She also attributed her success to having like-minded peers, her coach, and family – especially her Dad who was in attendance, who were wholeheartedly supportive of her goals.

The forum then concluded with a Q&A with our guest speakers and GM Thomas Luther. Attendees took the last chance to further probe the minds of the panelists and got further individual insights on how to improve their mindsets and become better chess players.

We hope the attendees found the forum enriching, and the SCF looks forward to having more such engaging talks with the community in the future.