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Win Chess and Life Games with a smile: 6 Lessons from Africa’s greatest chess hero

Here’s what you can learn from the incredible journey of doctor and Grandmaster Bassem Amin.

Improvement Hacks | 3 min read
Win Chess and Life Games with a smile: 6 Lessons from Africa’s greatest chess hero

Becoming a top 50 player in chess is extremely hard.
Becoming a doctor is not easy either.
Serving in the army is tough too.

Achieving just one of the above would be considered a success.

GM Bassem Amin from Egypt has done it all!
And as he was speaking with GM Avetik on the ChessMood Podcast, you’ll discover how humble he is.

Despite all his extraordinary achievements, there’s no arrogance. No ego. Just a warm smile.

We’ve extracted 6 valuable lessons you can use in your chess and life from Dr-GM Bassem Amin, who’s also one of the strongest ChessMoodians.

1. Consistency is the key

Many can work hard for a day, a week, or a short period of time.

But what happens when the motivation fades? Or when you don’t get the results you desire? Can you still continue working?

To improve your chess, no matter what your level, Bassem believes the most important thing is consistency.

Motivation is what gets you started. Consistency is what keeps you going. - Jin Ryun

He even shared the problem with taking a long break, “Sometimes players take a one-month break after a tournament. That's too long. You lose a lot of what you have studied before. You can take a 2-3 day break, maximum a week. Then you have to get back to work.”

2. Detach from the results

Everyone wants to increase their rating, win tournaments or achieve whatever goal they have with chess.

It’s very easy and tempting to get obsessed with the final outcome.

But when you’re on the journey of improvement, that’s not where your focus should be.

Don't think too much about the results. They will come if you are working in the right direction.”

Kobe Bryant's quote on constant improvement and staying detached from the result.

3. The process makes you a champion, not the medal

To become a stronger player, you’ll have to improve your game.

The improvement process could look like studying the game, fixing your mistakes, developing a better mindset, etc. For this, you’ll need to work on your game regularly. Sometimes you may even need to make sacrifices.

Ultimately, it’s these things that bring a change in your game and make you a champion.

“People who win medals, you see the final product. But what happened in the process? The world doesn’t see.”

Quote by Dr. N Grigoryan on chess rating

4. Find stronger opponents no matter where you are

A young player grows faster when exposed to stronger opponents.
For Bassem, finding them in his country was hard. But not on the internet!

“In the 2000s, the ICC (Internet Chess Club) was the main playing website. It was a dream for me to get the IM title just to get my free account.

“If you get 2700 and 3000 and then 3200, you play with all the top grandmasters and the best list of the website.”

This experience proved invaluable. Two years after becoming an IM, Bassem achieved the Grandmaster title in 2006, when he was just 18!

I’m competing with what I’m capable of. - Michael Jordan

5. Don’t chase perfection in everything

To succeed in life, know your priorities.

When Bassem had to balance between chess and medicine, he knew where he didn’t need to chase perfection.

“To get the highest grade in medicine, you’ve to be studying full-time. It's very tough. My goal was just to pass every year until I graduate.”

This approach allowed Bassem to focus more on his chess while studying.

As a result, he almost touched 2650 in chess by the time he became a doctor in 2012.

6. Be grateful

In 2015, Bassem was the best player in his country and continent. Yet, he had to serve his nation as part of the compulsory military service.

There he couldn’t use the phone, had to sleep in a room with 30 other soldiers and get ready in the cold early morning. It was tough.

But it gave him his best physical shape and reminded him of the valuable gratitude lessons.

“When I went back home, it was a very happy moment for me! To be at home, at my bed, at my toilet. It's a blessing! You realize the little things you take for granted that don't exist for so many people.”

***

In the podcast episode, you’ll also find many more stories and words of wisdom from GM Bassem Amin, including:

  • How he used the computer in his early days to improve.
  • What changes he made to reach 2700 elo.
  • The chess academy in Egypt where he’s training the new generation.
  • His favorite ChessMood resources that he uses for himself and for his students,

And more…

You can also tune in:
The interview on Apple Podcast
The interview on Spotify

Share your thoughts with us in the forum.

Originally published Dec 15, 2023

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