He said that Magnus says he beats opponents who are just as skilled as he is because they fear threats that do not exist. To win, he believes, you must be an optimist.
And in that moment, all I could see was Gatsby floating in his pool, along with his "incorruptible hope." Doesn't being an optimist make you a fool? Isn't that what everyone says? That to always look on the bright side and see silver linings and look for the good in everyone and constantly be Miss Merry Sunshine all the time - aren't you a target of pity and ridicule rather than the #1 Chess Player in the world? Aren't you someone whom people just take advantage of?
Maybe there's another piece - in the interview Magnus talked about how spectacularly disastrous it was when he first started harnessing that optimism. He lost a lot and in a grand fashion as his over-confidence wasn't matched with the strength of his playing skill. As time passed, his skill began to match his optimism. And instead of putting out the fire of his talent with fear and pessimism, he stoked it with opportunities and optimism.
"That's my belief. That I can beat him. Otherwise there wouldn't be any point in me playing the match."
What was interesting is in the comments - why I still read comments is beyond me - everyone wasn't talking about how great this kid is, how grounded he impossibly seems or what he's doing for the game of chess. They talked about his arrogance. Measuring it. Was he humble and arrogant or just plain arrogant? The threats of crashing and burning, the joy at watching this kid fall from dizzying heights. Once again, we're back to people believing someone is too high and mighty and missing the joy of watching someone amazing do what they're good at it - what they were born to do.
How much of this is entangled in our need to hide our collective lights under whatever bushel is most convenient? Do we not want to come off as arrogant, just because we're confident that the match is ours? How many times have we been maligned for just being good at something?
Uncomfortable with the prospect of continuing to hide my light under a bushel, I started thinking a lot about what Magnus said: Optimism is the true force behind success. Because, like he said, "if you're not optimistic, if you're not looking for your chances, you're going to miss opportunities."
Life can dole it out when it wants to. It can make us feel as unspecial and invisible as we sometimes fear we are. But, what if we switched that paradigm using Magnus' words?
Are we missing our chances and losing the match not because of our talent or skill, but because we're fearing threats that don't exist?
Because, we are not invisible and each one of us is breathtakingly special.
What if we embraced that? What if we center our pieces on their squares, move that pawn out two spaces and set out to take control of the center of the board with the unchallenged thought that we will win?
And in letting our light shine, we make a promise to stop reading the comments of those who couldn't make the climb.