Only through our inevitable blunders shall we pave the road to mastery.

While it may seem counterintuitive at first, the concept of “blundering” is fundamental to my learning and teaching philosophy. In fact, it’s so fundamental that I can confidently state that without blunders – or more specifically, without taking the time to understand and correct our blunders – that we are unlikely to make further progress, whether in chess or in life at large.

Whether we are specifically talking about a defined blunder, mistake, or inaccuracy – it’s only when we take the time to explore and investigate where we went wrong, including how and why, that we are empowered to identify the gaps in our understanding, address the breakdowns in our mental models, and grow beyond our current skill level.

To learn more about this philosophy of mine, please feel free to read my Open Letter below. My goal is to help you not only understand the importance of blunders, but also to accept them – and more importantly, to accept yourself inclusive of your imperfections – so that you can get on with important work of improving your game. This is easier said than done, but with the right mindset and attitude, I truly believe that anyone can optimize their ability to learn, succeed, and unlock their true potential with this strategic approach to improvement.

An Open Letter: Empowering Mastery Through Hard Work, Shared Knowledge, and Self-Acceptance

For me, chess is more than just a game or career.

On the board, it’s a lifelong pursuit of understanding and growth, a labyrinth of endless learning and teaching, and a commitment to an intellectual journey. Off the board, it’s a means of self-discovery, a conduit to connect with others, and a catalyst for social and emotional growth.

And as many of you surely know already, my passion for chess is deeply intertwined with my love for teaching.

I discovered early on that teaching chess wasn’t just about guiding someone to make better moves – it was about unlocking a student’s potential, fostering a love for learning, and building a community around the shared quest for understanding. It was also about making sure that every student, regardless of rating or skill level, remained inspired by the game and did not get overly “down” on themselves about their mistakes.

It has always been my goal to approach teaching from a point of clarity, simplicity, and an intuitive approach rooted in basic chess principles.

Whether through one-on-one lessons, YouTube videos, or larger ventures like Chessable, my ultimate goal remains the same: to share chess knowledge in a manner that’s easily accessible and understood.

Integral to my philosophy, too, is the recognition and acceptance of our “inevitable blunders.” My core belief – Only Through Our Inevitable Blunders Shall We Pave the Road to Mastery – emphasizes the importance of self-awareness, reflection, and the acceptance of ourselves and others even when mistakes are made.

Just one of many examples of how we can learn from our blunders (and mistakes, and inaccuracies…)!

By fostering an environment that embraces rather than shames mistakes, I encourage my students, viewers, and followers to fully engage in the learning process, promoting growth both on and off the chessboard.

And in turn, I hope to empower them with the tools they need to genuinely improve. I also seek to empower them – to empower you – to connect with others in the chess community, in order to make new friends, help each other grow, and most importantly, to enjoy some fun and challenging games of chess!

As a vanguard of the game, I am committed to being a torchbearer of this rich tradition, leading the charge for a more connected and inclusive chess community. Chess, in my view, is a universal language: A language that has the power to unite us, to teach us about ourselves, and to inspire us to aim higher and dig deeper.

Looking towards the future, I intend to continue multiplying my impact and expanding my reach in new and different ways. My desire is to help as many people as possible make the right connections, improve their game, and ultimately, discover their own unique paths to mastery – both on and off the board.

And while I remain dedicated to my own growth as an international master, I primarily measure my success these days through my students’ achievements, my ability to unite people within the chess community, and my ability to facilitate learning and personal growth at scale.

More broadly, I intend to always keep my work aligned with the 5 Core Values that fuel my mission:

  1. Mistakes are fundamental to learning.
  2. Hard work maximizes personal fulfillment.
  3. Chess is a way to understand and improve oneself and connect with others.
  4. Chess knowledge is meant to be shared.
  5. We should seek to connect with others and build a positive community through our work.

I truly believe that through shared knowledge, hard work, and dedication, we can all be part of the bigger game – the game of continuous learning, growing, and helping each other out. After all, every master was once a learner who never gave up. And in this grand game of chess (and life!), we are all ultimately learners, united together on the journey towards mastery.