“For me, it’s not so important to become world champion. I always wanted to become the best player in the world.”Ding Liren.
As the World Chess Championship is over, it is now time to reflect and analyze. One winner, one loses. We always tend to think that the winner must have done things correctly and the loser incorrectly. We need to take a step back
In 2013 Sam Hinkie, the general manager of the basketball team Philadelphia 76ers started a multi-year rebuild. Crazy in the world of sports where short terms results trump everything eventually he got fired and wrote an open resignation letter that became viral extolling the virtue of sticking to a process-driven long term strategy.
If you have some time, I’d recommend brewing a large cup of tea and reading it. This will be 100x more valuable time than a broetry Twitter thread from a productivity expert.
What does science says?
Meta-analysis of published articles finds that “ Process goals had the largest effect on performance (d = 1.36) compared to performance goals (d = 0.44) and outcome goals (d = 0.09).”
Short-term results are dominated by variance
[this paragraph is from a previous post but fits nicely in this discussion]
I think most people and especially amateurs play way too little. I appreciate that life gets in the way, but you must make sure that you don’t draw incorrect conclusions from a small sample size. I ran the numbers in the following scenario: let’s say a dedicated improver has increased his true chess strength by about 50 Elo with diligent hard work. They go to their local weekend tournament where they face opposition with similar published ratings. With a 50 points advantage in true strength, we expect a 50 points Elo rise, but the probability of not winning any Elo through variance alone is 45% over one million simulations. For a 9-round tournament, the probability drops to 37% which is still significant. Needless to say, this can feel very demoralising to work hard, increase in strength and play good chess but have a poor tournament. Very tempting to drop a successful training programme with no basis because of bad variance.
Why Trust the process?
Well, there’s really no other alternative.
You always have a process, even if that process is ‘headless chicken mode’, or ‘I just do whatever I feel like whenever I feel like’.
Process is the only thing in your control. Not results. Not even performance! Some days you just play badly. But your mindset and processes is always in control.
And trust your own process.