successful in games and other ventures. It is hard to improve if you
are not objective, because you may assign wrong reasons to your losses
and fail to learn from mistakes. On the other hand, if you are
objective, many lessons can be learned from games won and lost, making
improvement almost inevitable.
Being objective is very important in games like chess or go, where
positions must be analyzed and judgments made about the final
position of said analysis.
Judgment is related to all this. Experience and mathematical analysis
can help you make an objective decision. The difference between judgment and being
that to have "good judgment" we must remain objective and use the data
we have correctly.
How do we remain objective? How can we have any clue if we are being
objective or not?
1. Remain unattached to a particular course of action until it
is determined by you to be the best course. Often people will make the
first move they see, even if they start to see or suspect problems with
2. Remain somewhat unemotional; otherwise, emotions rather than
rational thought may cause many bad plays.
3. If you can use analysis or math to solve a problem then do
so; hunches can be very important but cannot override facts.
4. If you can devise a point count system for hard positions or, again,
use math to solve a problem, why not do it? Chess computers are programmed
this way: first they look for a forced win and if they cannot find one,
they weigh all aspects of the position, assigning points to things such
as control of the center, king weakness, piece activity, pawns about to queen, etc.
5. Know when math is of no help and when using hunches and other clues is best.
If the odds are equal for two courses of actions, and you have some
clue as to the likely course of action for your opponent, use this
information; it could tip the balance in your favor.
6. Knowledge is key. If you know nothing, then you will be guessing
anyway in many situations. The more you know and the more you use the
knowledge you possess, the better you will be, you will see.
7. Results. If you have good results or poor results, this is a clue to
how you are doing. In many games you can look at the game later and
see where you went right and where you went wrong.
Now look at why you went wrong: Was it a mistake? Or was it a case of
being unobjective or making an assumption that could not be
supported by analysis? Maybe you like to sacrifice material in chess and therefore sacked
even though you could tell your opponent had a good defense. Maybe you
bluffed in poker against someone you knew would always call, but you
hoped and convinced yourself that they would not.
8. Assumptions clearly can be helpful when correct but are often just
a dangerous shortcut to actual analysis.
9. Use history. While this is a form of assuming if a
certain position wins in master practice over and over again, then it
would be desirable to be on the winning side of it. In chess there are
opening books and databases which state the historical averages of
certain positions. If a grandmaster cannot win from a certain position
in a hundred tries, it is unlikely that against decent competition you
will able to either, so avoid known "bad positions" and strive for
"good positions." It took me a while to figure out why many of these
positions were bad, or why people always said not to play weak hands
out of position in poker or not to double into a game unless absolutely
certain of defeating a contract in bridge, etc.
If you have time and money to spare, feel free to reinvent the wheel.
Otherwise, I advise in important situations, and where you don't have
a very good reason to deviate, to accept what is known.