Daily Speculations

The Web Site of Victor Niederhoffer & Laurel Kenner

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8/16/03 Reacting To Losses

One of the most important yet neglected aspects of competition is how players react to a loss. I recall one study (Divinsky?) which showed that of the World Champions all performed below expectation to some extent, except for Lasker. The worst was Bobby Fischer.

After a defeat there are many players want revenge on the next guy to sit opposite them. Others become cowed. But any reaction that puts you off your normal game is likely to worsen your play.

One thing you can do to reduce the impact of a loss is to prepare for it in advance. Being boastful or arrogant before a game increases the pain of your subsequent defeat and the odds of a damaging emotional reaction. Go about your business quietly and steadily, keep to your routine and avoid too much idle talk.