Zugzwang

There’s a term used in chess to describe a situation in which the player will regret any move they make because of the position it will put them in. It’s a tough situation because the decision-making process is focused on finding the move resulting in a better position despite the fact that each position is undesirable. If only you could take-back the moves that led up to this, because now you concretely realize the moves you wanted to make. And it doesn’t really help when you keep thinking about how the position would be so much better had you decided on the other variation. Alas, the game must progress and a move must be made unless you want to sit there and think in misery until time runs out.

I think the most annoying thing is the loss of tempos. I feel regret over wasted opportunities and I’m starting in the exact position that I was already in before. It’s like I wasted a bunch of moves and time. And then there’s also the irony and the paradoxes floating around in my mind. On one hand, I wouldn’t be in this situation if I hadn’t blindly followed some opening someone suggested to use; I’d be better off if I took the time to understand the theory behind it, or if I paved the foundation for my own journey. On the other hand, I want to be in this situation because it confirms the intuition I had beforehand; I learned so much and gained experience I wouldn’t have without it, and I’d have it no other way.

Against all odds, when things seem stacked against you, in bleak situations. People will say you can’t do something, they’ll think they have you trapped and in zugzwang, and expect you to resign. Search for the context and find your move. It’s almost your turn. Be prepared.