The rise and fall of naïve romantics in my daily life

The rise and fall of naïve romantics in my daily life

April 29, 2013 6:20 pm

I believe that every time we see something that we don’t understand yet, we tend to see it in a more naïve romantic way. Below are two examples how I had to change my mentality about chess and billiards if I wanted to improve my game.

Let us first focus on the game of kings – chess. At first, I’d struggled even for moving the pieces around. I was a few years old and my grandfather tried to teach me how to play. After many games, I’d improved my game but still waited for my turn, thought for a moment what to do, and then made my move. In my mind, playing chess was still a wild guess, it depended greatly on the luck and on the lack of concentration or feeling the opponent had.


Years passed and just when I thought that I am getting the hang of it, somebody came along, who read a bunch of books about chess, who knew all the standard openings by heart and beat the romantics of chess from me in a second. Yes, talent is a good asset, yes experiences matter A LOT. But without the hard realistic systematic approach to the problem, you just can’t advance over a certain point that easy. I joined the chess club soon after that match.

What about playing billiards?

You have a stick (called a cue), a white ball (cue ball) and between two and fifteen playing balls (depends on the game you are playing).

At the beginning I took the stick, went to the white ball, fake the aiming from the white ball to the target ball (I didn’t have a clue how to aim), made a few swings towards the white ball (I saw people do it on the television) and then hit the white ball as hard as possible. If I was lucky, I hit the white ball. If I was even luckier, the white ball hit the target ball without a foul. If I was extremely lucky, the target ball went into the hole (I pocketed the ball!). I had no idea, why the white ball went where it went and I didn’t know which ball to target next before the pot.

I thought that practice was for losers so I never practiced by myself. After many games played, I was able to hit the white ball almost every time. I knew how to add some english (how to make the white ball spin to one side) and I even had a solid three balls streak (I could pocket three balls consecutively before I missed the fourth one).

billiardsWhat I saw in billiards at that time was a combination of luck and feeling. I didn’t care if the balls weren’t all touching each other before breaking them, I just hit the white ball as hard as I could and hoped that I will be lucky. When I played, I only used my gut feeling for each shot (when to apply spin, how hard to hit the white ball, where to hit the white ball…).

Just when I thought that I am getting the hang of it, somebody came along, who read a bunch of books about billiards, knew all the theories from how to stand by the table to best practices for a force-follow shot. From the first break of this crucial match up until about three minutes after, when I’d lost the game I could see the naïve romantics of billiards crush and shatter before my eyes.

It is probably not necessary to point out that I immediately started searching for any kind of theoretical information about billiards.

I still love to play chess occasionally and I still regularly play billiards, but the point of view has changed. Now I know exactly WHY I moved the horse rather than the queen and why the white ball went where it went.

Don’t reinvent the wheel, try to understand it.

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