“The comprehensive scientific monograph “Improve Your Life by Playing a Game” by Dr. Jana Krivec brings new insights into the connection between psychological concepts and chess. She focuses in detail on various aspects of chess and combines them meaningfully with various aspects of the psychological functioning of an individual in daily life. It covers both cognitive and non-cognitive areas of human functioning. It combines the cognitive aspect of chess with an individual’s ability to identify a problem and analyzes the ways and methods of searching for and evaluating the solutions. In doing so she illuminates the concept of decision making and the question of facing up to wrong decisions. The author originally relates the rules and required skills in chess to the non-cognitive characteristics of the individual. The correct handling of emotions in solving problems and possibly wrong decisions is only one of the personality traits she considers to be extremely important for (chess) success in life. The author adds that a successful person (and chess player) is certainly characterized by a high degree of self-reflection, perseverance in overcoming obstacles and achieving their goals. However, the latter are not only set in form of learned techniques and strategies, but they conceal within themselves a curious individual who is always searching for the meaning of his work. In this scientific monograph, Dr. Jana Krivec, a psychologist, and women’s chess grandmaster clarifies new insights and presents them in a new way for the psychological field. The monograph thus represents an important milestone for various applied aspects of psychological knowledge (e.g. pedagogy, clinical psychology) and provides new insights for the professional and lay public.” ~ Dr. Sonja Čotar Konrad (University professor of psychology)
“The process of acquiring chess skills and gaining a deep insight into the thinking of chess masters has always been an exciting topic. What are the special skills, talents and habits that distinguish great chess players from club players has long been the subject of intense discussion. Little scientific work has been devoted to this question, and there are practically no books that would combine knowledge of psychology and the development of strategic thinking skills in a textbook of high educational value. The greatest obstacle was that most psychologists who dealt with this question were not strong chess players themselves and therefore had no direct access to the mental processes of chess at the master level. On the other hand, it is also difficult to find first-class cognitive psychologists among the chess players. Dr. Jana Krivec is a unique exception to this rule: a strong chess player, a woman grandmaster with extensive experience in competitive chess, and a university professor in the field of cognitive psychology, who devoted most of her research to understanding cognitive processes in the minds of chess players. The book “Improve Your Life by Playing a Game” takes us on an exciting journey through a wide range of topics from psychology and explains these topics by putting the reader in the role of a tournament chess player. Gaining a deeper understanding of the mind of a chess player during training, playing and analyzing chess games suddenly takes on a different dimension when explained through the lens of modern psychology. Even non chess players can now deeply understand the famous quote that chess is life in miniature. Throughout the book life, chess and cognitive psychology are so intimately connected that the reader is given plenty of food for thought and valuable life lessons. All this makes this book surprisingly interesting for a truly diverse audience including: • students of cognitive psychology who want to deepen their knowledge through case studies from real life • students of business administration and economics who want to develop and strengthen their strategic thinking skills • trainers and coaches in various sports (including chess, of course), who are aware that psychology plays a decisive role in every competition • chess players who want to improve their game by better understanding the role of psychology on their way to mastery.” ~ Dr. Matej Guid (University professor and FIDE master)
This book is partly designed as an autobiographical experience focusing on the processes that arise in the life of a chess player that have be translated into everyday life. In part, the book incorporates psychological theories that generally explain these processes, but overall it can be seen as a guide on how to use any activity to learn skills that will enrich your life. There are several activities in life which can be seen in the same way if we know where and how to exploit the opportunities. The truth is that all aspirations are interconnected when we keep an eye on the thematic links. I believe that this book will give you a new insight into how any ability can be transferred from a particular activity to the universal wisdom of life. It will awaken your networking skills and teach you how to turn life activities into lifelong skills that will improve your well-being. The course of the book follows the typical process of playing chess, starting with training, followed by the tournament situation, the course of the game, the time after the game and the tournament. Since I am not a poet, I have often borrowed some quotations from famous, imaginative and clever people from all over the world. I believe that these valuable thoughts have enriched the book. One thing I ask you to do while reading this book is to open your mind and enjoy the inner journey. So let us go and try to become aware of the processes behind our life activities. Let us find out what and why we do what we do in our daily lives.