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Sportsmanship in chess


Are good chess sportsmanship days gone? Is the competitive level rising to an extreme? Or is there something we can all do to make sure that chess is still a fun game?

I started playing serious chess tournaments as a teenager. From the very beginning, I was taught to show respect to my opponents- shake hands, be polite, etc. So, I followed that advice- faithfully. In the last few years of my job as a chess teacher, I noticed a new and increasing trend- a lot of kids and young adolescents- mostly those who are serious tournament players- who would do anything to win. Some distract their opponents, some use false claims to stop the games, some slam the pieces and some even try to psyche out their opponents by talking to them when they really should not be talking at all. And if they lost, many of these kids would get up and walk away in a huff- no hand-shaking or the usual "Good game" compliment.
It seems that often they would do anything to accomplish a win- as if their entire lives depended on it. The act of losing a game seems really magnified, and ends with a dramatic scene- walking away, crying, screaming, dirty looks directed at their opponents, etc.
Winning is a display of triumphant looks and a lot of bragging.
As I started paying closer attention, I noticed those kids are actually trained and encouraged by their coaches and parents- who think that behavior is cute- yes, I saw some smile. Gone are the days of good sportsmanship.
So, I wish to remind those of you interested in the game of chess to please remember to be kind to yourself and the people you play- well, you do not have to shake hands anymore, but at least say hi before the game, focus on the quality of the game (not the result), be fair, be honest, and if you lose, try to learn from your mistakes and remember that it is up to you to improve.
Because, in the long run- there is only one person you are really competing against- and that is yourself.
So, be kind to yourself.






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