Cockroach Theory: How to use it in Chess?

There is a nice Cockroach Theory. Many say that it has been told by Sundar Pichai, Google CEO. But we do not have any references to prove that he indeed coined this theory. Who has coined this theory is not important. What is important is the essence of this theory and how we can apply this theory to Chess too. But before we do that, we first need to understand the Cockroach Theory.

What is The Cockroach Theory?

Here is the Cockroach theory, (as narrated by Sundar Pichai according to few sources):

Cockroach theory in chess

The Cockroach theory

At a restaurant, a cockroach suddenly flew from somewhere and sat on a lady.

She started screaming out of fear.

With a panic stricken face and trembling voice, she started jumping, with both her hands desperately trying to get rid of the cockroach.

Her reaction was contagious, as everyone in her group also got panicky.

The lady finally managed to push the cockroach away but landed on another lady in the group.

Now, it was the turn of the other lady in the group to continue the drama.

The waiter rushed forward to their rescue.

In the relay of throwing, the cockroach next fell upon the waiter.

The waiter stood firm, composed himself and observed the behavior of the cockroach on his shirt.

When he was confident enough, he grabbed it with his fingers and threw it out of the restaurant.

Sipping my coffee and watching the amusement, the antenna of my mind picked up a few thoughts and started wondering, was the cockroach responsible for their histrionic behavior?

If so, then why was the waiter not disturbed?

He handled it near to perfection, without any chaos.

It is not the cockroach, but the inability of those people to handle the disturbance caused by the cockroach, that disturbed the ladies.

I realized that, it is not the shouting of my father or my boss or my wife that disturbs me, but it's my inability to handle the disturbances caused by their shouting that disturbs me.

It's not the traffic jams on the road that disturbs me, but my inability to handle the disturbance caused by the traffic jam that disturbs me.

More than the problem, it's my reaction to the problem that creates chaos in my life.

Lessons learnt from the story:

I understood, I should not react in life.

I should always respond.

The women reacted, whereas the waiter responded.

Reactions are always instinctive whereas responses are always well thought of.

How do we apply The Cockroach Theory to Chess?

This Cockroach theory has many lessons for chess players to learn.

We should understand that in Chess, there will be many times that the opponent can try to create problems, traps and threats to your pieces. It is not the opponent or his moves that is the problem here. It is quite natural for the opponent to do that. So he is not the problem. The problem is our reaction to the opponent’s moves.

If we react, we get into a panic mode. We will make wrong moves because we are not thinking any more and our focus is completely on the panic or fear of losing. More wrong moves leads to more trouble to us and then, we end up losing the game.

Instead of reacting, good chess players “respond” to the situation. When a response is given, it is always a well thought move because you will take time to think, you will have patience and your focus will be on the game rather than managing panic. Infact, there will not be any panic. And, there are higher chances of you winning the game because you made your best effort in responding to the situation.

So dear chess players,

  1. “Do not” be like the women who “reacted” with panic when the cockroach jumped on them. It is not the cockroach that is the problem. It is their instant reaction that was bigger problem.
  2. “Do” like the waiter who “responded” with patience and then see the results. Your Chess will always improve if you follow this golden rule.

Okay now don't be too much disturbed with the cockroach on the chess board. Remember, don't react. Just respond patiently.

And, write comments below on your experiences and how many times you had reacted rather than responded in chess games that you played.

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