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The Chess Project: 12 Months With the Most Beautiful Game

The goal: To learn how to play a decent game of chess.

Cover photo: @jerrysilfwer

I’ve star­ted to learn chess.

After hav­ing watched The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix in 2020, chess caught my interest. Since I had just fin­ished my Sudoku Project, I was open to a new challenge.

The Queen's Gambit - The Chess Project - Doctor Spin
The phe­nomen­on that brought chess into the main­stream spotlight.

The pop­u­lar tv show coin­cided with the pro­lif­er­a­tion of stream­ing genres bey­ond gam­ing. Turns out that stream­ing and chess are a match made in heaven.

Of course, I wasn’t the only one who dis­covered chess after The Queen’s Gambit — just as I wasn’t the only one who dis­covered Sudoku after find­ing the YouTube chan­nel Cracking the Cryptic.

Read also: The Sudoku Project: 18 Months of Amazement

Still, I decided to teach myself more about chess.

Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

The Three Parts of Chess

There are three parts to a game of chess. The open­ing, the middle game, and the end game. I didn’t know this. The say­ing goes that you should play the open­ing like a book, the middle game like a magi­cian, and the end game like a machine. I didn’t know any of that, either.

Still, I found these three parts to be good start­ing points. 1I had the same approach when learn­ing pho­to­graphy as I star­ted my jour­ney by focus­ing (pun inten­ded!) on aper­ture, shut­ter speed, and ISO.

The Opening Like a Book

Computers have cal­cu­lated all pos­sible chess open­ings. So, you can play a par­tic­u­lar open­ing to give your­self a favour­able pos­i­tion on the board. If white plays a spe­cif­ic open­ing per­fectly, you must counter it per­fectly to min­im­ise white’s advantage.

You could play an open­ing without know­ing any open­ings by find­ing good moves. However, your oppon­ent will likely gain a sub­stan­tial advant­age from know­ing their open­ing the­ory by heart. There are too many vari­ations for a human brain to cal­cu­late over the board.

So, if you want to play a decent chess game, you must study open­ings. Simple as that.

The Middle Game Like a Magician

Both sides will soon run out of pre­pared moves with all pos­sible vari­ations. It typ­ic­ally hap­pens when most pieces are developed. So, when you enter the middle game, you’re left with only your stra­tegic bril­liance, your cre­at­ive ideas, and your abil­ity to do cal­cu­la­tions. And so is your opponent.

And in the middle game, lots of pieces are still left on the board. And lots of pieces on the board mean — complexity.

Is there a way to invoke magic? Well, hav­ing played thou­sands and thou­sands of chess games will help. Being a bon­afide geni­us doesn’t hurt, either. If you haven’t had time to play that many games and weren’t blessed with men­tal super­powers at birth, a sol­id under­stand­ing of chess prin­ciples will go a long way.

The End Game Like a Machine

Most end games have already been solved. So, if you’ve man­aged to sur­vive until most pieces are off the board and you’ve got the advant­age in terms of mater­i­al or pos­i­tion, the game is yours to lose. It’s like an equa­tion wait­ing to be solved. You need to enter the cor­rect answer — and the win is yours.

Mess up, and you’re hand­ing a draw or a loss over to your oppon­ent on a sil­ver platter.

You either con­vert a win­ning pos­i­tion into a win or defend ideally to increase the odds of hav­ing your oppon­ent make a mis­take. Alas, it would help if you prac­tised how to solve end games, prefer­ably under time pressure.

Chess and Time

Here’s anoth­er crit­ic­al aspect of the game I had nev­er con­sidered before watch­ing The Queen’s Gambit:

Chess is a timed game.

I had seen chess clocks in movies before, of course. But it had nev­er occurred to me that time was a huge factor to con­sider in play­ing the game.

In clas­sic­al chess, play­ers typ­ic­ally get lots of time to think. Players do run out of time. For some reas­on, I thought all chess matches ended with a check­mate or a draw.

Instead, I dis­covered the fant­ast­ic world of bul­let, rap­id, and blitz games. 

And I learned that the clock decides lots of games. You could have a win­ning pos­i­tion, but that doesn’t mat­ter if your clock runs out. 

So, how did I go about improv­ing my game?

Chess Openings

I’m pas­sion­ate about learn­ing new things, but my motiv­a­tion has lim­its. To put it mildly, study­ing chess open­ings en masse isn’t my idea of a good time.

So, I learned about open­ings involving mov­ing the pawn in front of my white king first. I’ve only just scratched the sur­face here. But I prefer to know more about one spe­cif­ic type of open­ing than too little about too many openings.

As for open­ings with black? I’ve picked up a few fam­ous lines, but only a small num­ber of turns deep. Work in progress.

Still, a little know­ledge about open­ings goes a long way, espe­cially if you’re play­ing against people without the slight­est idea about openings.

General Chess Knowledge

But the most sig­ni­fic­ant improve­ment in my chess game was learn­ing a few basic chess prin­ciples. Such prin­ciples won’t apply to every scen­ario, but they’re still good to know.

Here’s a quick run­down of some basic chess prin­ciples that have served me well dur­ing my first twelve months of play:

  • Make sure your king is safe.
  • Don’t get suck­er-punched by unpleas­ant pins and forks.
  • Minimise your blun­ders by mak­ing it a habit to scan the board prop­erly before every move.
  • If you’re up on mater­i­al, trade pieces to simplify.
  • You might also want to trade pieces if it gives you a clear pos­i­tion­al advantage.
  • Early on, fight a little extra to gain con­trol of those four centre squares.
  • Getting a check­mate by your oppon­ent in three moves is noth­ing to fear — not if you can check­mate your oppon­ent in two.
  • Bishops are more potent in pos­i­tions with long open lines, and horses are more valu­able in closed-off positions.
  • One of your bish­ops is typ­ic­ally much bet­ter than the oth­er. And the same can be said about your opponent’s bish­ops. It all depends on the rest of your pieces; do they form a more robust dark or light square com­plex? You might be able to make an intel­li­gent trade here!
  • Having more pieces left on the board is often less favour­able than hav­ing your pieces be more active.
  • Never under­es­tim­ate the import­ance of your pawn structure.
  • There are oth­er ways to defend a piece under attack than mov­ing the piece out of harm’s way.
  • Giving your rook an open file is often a good idea if there’s no obvi­ous bet­ter move.
  • Chess experts find cer­tain moves to be ugly. It’s not a bad idea to think twice before mak­ing such moves.
  • Some moves are con­sidered slow because some moves are pre­par­ing for pos­sible ideas without pos­ing any imme­di­ate threats. Slow play can be wise, but you could get in trouble if your oppon­ent plays more aggressively.

Watching Chess Streamers

I should also men­tion that I’ve learned most of what I know from watch­ing chess stream­ers play and ana­lyse games. It’s not just about the know­ledge they share, but to hear them think out loud through­out games has helped me devel­op an inner chess voice that speaks to me dur­ing play.

Weird, I know. 2My inner chess voice sounds like Levy “GothamChess” Rozman!
But it helps me find bet­ter moves and blun­der less.

And it’s great entertainment!

Read also: “For Content!”

How My Chess Game Is Doing

I don’t know what my chess rat­ing is yet. I can com­fort­ably beat the 1300 – 1500 chess bots on Chess​.com. Twelve months ago, I lost three times against a bot ranked at 700. That’s pro­gress, indeed.

My idea for the next 12 months is to begin play­ing online against people I don’t know — and get a rat­ing. At this point, I should men­tion that I’m unsure how the chess rank­ing sys­tem works.

Still, my over­all goal for this pro­ject is to be able to play a decent game of chess. If I could get a rat­ing of 1000+ in the next twelve months, I’d con­sider this whole effort a success.


Please sup­port my blog by shar­ing it with oth­er PR- and com­mu­nic­a­tion pro­fes­sion­als. For ques­tions or PR sup­port, con­tact me via jerry@​spinfactory.​com.

More Creative Projects

My Creative Projects

I strive to keep learn­ing to enhance my cre­ativ­ity. Here are a few of my more focused projects:

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PR Resource: Mental Models

Mental Models: How To Think Better — Faster

You only have to do a few things right in your life so long as you don’t do too many things wrong.”
— Warren Buffett

Mental mod­els emphas­ize the import­ance of view­ing prob­lems from mul­tiple per­spect­ives, recog­niz­ing per­son­al lim­it­a­tions, and under­stand­ing the often unfore­seen inter­ac­tions between dif­fer­ent factors. 

These mod­els are inspired heav­ily by the writ­ings of Charlie Munger, Vice Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway and long-time col­lab­or­at­or of Warren Buffett and many oth­ers.3It’s worth not­ing that these mod­els are not exclus­ively Charlie Munger’s inven­tions but tools he advoc­ates for effect­ive think­ing and decision-mak­ing.

Here’s a list of my favour­ite men­tal models: 

The Iron Prescription—This men­tal mod­el sug­gests that some­times, the most chal­len­ging actions or decisions yield the best long-term res­ults. Sticking to a tough workout involves push­ing through dif­fi­culties and res­ist­ance to achieve great­er rewards. It’s about dis­cip­line, per­sever­ance, and the will­ing­ness to under­take hard tasks for future gain.

The Red Queen Effect—Originating from Lewis Carroll’s “Through the Looking-Glass,” this meta­phor describes a situ­ation where one must con­tinu­ously adapt, evolve, and work to main­tain their pos­i­tion. It’s often used in the con­text of busi­nesses need­ing to innov­ate con­stantly to stay competitive.

Occam’s Razor—This prin­ciple sug­gests that the simplest explan­a­tion is usu­ally cor­rect. The one with the few­est assump­tions should be selec­ted when presen­ted with com­pet­ing hypo­theses. It’s a tool for cut­ting through com­plex­ity and focus­ing on what’s most likely true.

Hanlon’s Razor—This mod­el advises not to attrib­ute to malice what can be adequately explained by incom­pet­ence or mis­take. It’s a remind­er to look for sim­pler explan­a­tions before jump­ing to con­clu­sions about someone’s intentions.

Vaguely Right vs Precisely Wrong—This prin­ciple sug­gests it is bet­ter to be approx­im­ately cor­rect than exactly incor­rect. In many situ­ations, seek­ing pre­ci­sion can lead to errors if the under­ly­ing assump­tions or data are flawed. Sometimes, a rough estim­ate is more use­ful than a pre­cise but poten­tially mis­lead­ing figure.

Fat Pitch—Borrowed from base­ball, this concept refers to wait­ing patiently for the per­fect oppor­tun­ity — a situ­ation where the chances of suc­cess are excep­tion­ally high. It sug­gests the import­ance of patience and strik­ing when the time is right.

Chesterton’s Fence—A prin­ciple stat­ing that reforms should not be made until the reas­on­ing behind the exist­ing state of affairs is under­stood. It’s about respect­ing the wis­dom embed­ded in estab­lished prac­tices and con­ven­tions before mak­ing changes.

First-Conclusion Bias—This is the tend­ency to stick with the first con­clu­sion reached without con­sid­er­ing altern­at­ive pos­sib­il­it­ies or addi­tion­al inform­a­tion. It’s a cog­nit­ive bias that can impede crit­ic­al think­ing and thor­ough analysis.

First Principles Thinking—This approach involves break­ing down com­plex prob­lems into their most basic ele­ments and then reas­sembling them from the ground up. It’s about get­ting to the fun­da­ment­al truths of a situ­ation and build­ing your under­stand­ing from there rather than rely­ing on assump­tions or con­ven­tion­al wisdom.

The Map Is Not the Territory—This mod­el reminds us that rep­res­ent­a­tions of real­ity are not real­ity itself. Maps, mod­els, and descrip­tions are sim­pli­fic­a­tions and can­not cap­ture every aspect of the actu­al ter­rit­ory or situ­ation. It’s a cau­tion against over-rely­ing on mod­els and the­or­ies without con­sid­er­ing the nuances of real-world situ­ations. 4Silfwer, J. (2022, November 3). Walter Lippmann: Public Opinion and Perception Management. Doctor Spin | The PR Blog. https://​doc​tor​spin​.net/​w​a​l​t​e​r​-​l​i​p​p​m​a​nn/

Bell Curve—This curve is a graph­ic­al depic­tion of a nor­mal dis­tri­bu­tion, show­ing how many occur­rences fall near the mean value and few­er occur as you move away from the mean. In decision-mak­ing, it’s used to under­stand and anti­cip­ate vari­ab­il­ity and to recog­nize that while extreme cases exist, most out­comes will cluster around the average.

Compounding—Often used in the con­text of fin­ance, com­pound­ing refers to the pro­cess where the value of an invest­ment increases because the earn­ings on an invest­ment, both cap­it­al gains and interest, earn interest as time passes. This prin­ciple can be applied more broadly to under­stand how small, con­sist­ent efforts can yield sig­ni­fic­ant long-term results.

Survival of the Fittest—Borrowed from evol­u­tion­ary bio­logy, this men­tal mod­el sug­gests that only those best adap­ted to their envir­on­ment sur­vive and thrive. In a busi­ness con­text, it can refer to com­pan­ies that adapt to chan­ging mar­ket con­di­tions and are more likely to succeed.

Mr. Market—A meta­phor cre­ated by Benjamin Graham, rep­res­ent­ing the stock mar­ket’s mood swings from optim­ism to pess­im­ism. It’s used to illus­trate emo­tion­al reac­tions in the mar­ket and the import­ance of main­tain­ing objectivity.

Second-Order Thinking—This kind of think­ing goes bey­ond the imme­di­ate effects of an action to con­sider the sub­sequent effects. It’s about think­ing ahead and under­stand­ing the longer-term con­sequences of decisions bey­ond just the imme­di­ate results.

Law of Diminishing Returns—This eco­nom­ic prin­ciple states that as invest­ment in a par­tic­u­lar area increases, the rate of profit from that invest­ment, after a cer­tain point, can­not increase pro­por­tion­ally and may even decrease. It’s import­ant to under­stand when addi­tion­al invest­ment yields pro­gress­ively smal­ler returns.

Opportunity Cost—This concept refers to the poten­tial bene­fits that one misses out on when choos­ing one altern­at­ive over anoth­er. It’s the cost of the next best option fore­gone. Understanding oppor­tun­ity costs helps make informed decisions by con­sid­er­ing what you must give up when choosing.

Swiss Army Knife Approach—This concept emphas­izes the import­ance of hav­ing diverse tools (or skills). Being ver­sat­ile and adapt­able in vari­ous situ­ations is valu­able, like a Swiss Army knife. This mod­el is par­tic­u­larly use­ful for uncer­tain and volat­ile situations.

Acceleration Theory—This concept indic­ates that the win­ner mustn’t lead the race from start to fin­ish. Mathematically, delay­ing max­im­um “speed” by pro­long­ing the slower accel­er­a­tion phase cor­rectly will get you across the fin­ish line faster. 5Silfwer, J. (2012, October 31). The Acceleration Theory: Use Momentum To Finish First. Doctor Spin | The PR Blog. https://​doc​tor​spin​.net/​a​c​c​e​l​e​r​a​t​i​o​n​-​t​h​e​o​ry/

Manage Expectations—This concept involves set­ting real­ist­ic expect­a­tions for your­self and oth­ers. It’s about align­ing hopes and pre­dic­tions with what is achiev­able and prob­able, thus redu­cing dis­ap­point­ment and increas­ing sat­is­fac­tion. Effective expect­a­tion man­age­ment can lead to bet­ter per­son­al and pro­fes­sion­al rela­tion­ships and outcomes.

Techlash—This men­tal mod­el acknow­ledges that while tech­no­logy can provide solu­tions, it can cre­ate anti­cip­ated and unanti­cip­ated prob­lems. It’s a remind­er to approach tech­no­lo­gic­al innov­a­tions cau­tiously, con­sid­er­ing poten­tial neg­at­ive impacts along­side the benefits.

World’s Most Intelligent Question—This men­tal mod­el refers to repeatedly ask­ing “Why?” to delve deep­er into a prob­lem and under­stand its root causes. One can uncov­er lay­ers of under­stand­ing that might remain hid­den by con­tinu­ally ask­ing why some­thing happens.

Regression to the Mean—This stat­ist­ic­al prin­ciple states that extreme events are likely to be fol­lowed by more mod­er­ate ones. Over time, val­ues tend to revert to the aver­age, a concept rel­ev­ant in many areas, from sports per­form­ance to busi­ness metrics.

False Dichotomy—This logic­al fal­lacy occurs when a situ­ation is presen­ted as hav­ing only two exclus­ive and mutu­ally exhaust­ive options when oth­er pos­sib­il­it­ies exist. It over­sim­pli­fies com­plex issues into an “either/​or” choice. For instance, say­ing, “You are either with us or against us”, ignores the pos­sib­il­ity of neut­ral or altern­at­ive positions.

Inversion—Inversion involves look­ing at prob­lems back­wards or from the end goal. Instead of think­ing about how to achieve some­thing, you con­sider what would pre­vent it from hap­pen­ing. This can reveal hid­den obstacles and altern­at­ive solutions.

Psychology of Human Misjudgment—This men­tal mod­el refers to under­stand­ing the com­mon biases and errors in human think­ing. One can make more ration­al and object­ive decisions by know­ing how cog­nit­ive biases, like con­firm­a­tion bias or the anchor­ing effect, can lead to flawed reasoning.

Slow is Smooth, Smooth is Fast—Often used in mil­it­ary and tac­tic­al train­ing, this phrase encap­su­lates the idea that some­times, slow­ing down can lead to faster over­all pro­gress. The prin­ciple is that tak­ing delib­er­ate, con­sidered actions reduces mis­takes and inef­fi­cien­cies, which can lead to faster out­comes in the long run. In prac­tice, it means plan­ning, train­ing, and execut­ing with care, lead­ing to smooth­er, more effi­cient oper­a­tions that achieve object­ives faster than rushed, less thought­ful efforts. 6Silfwer, J. (2020, April 24). Slow is Smooth, Smooth is Fast. Doctor Spin | The PR Blog. https://​doc​tor​spin​.net/​s​l​o​w​-​i​s​-​s​m​o​o​th/

Because You Are Worth It—This men­tal mod­el focuses on self-worth and invest­ing in one­self. It sug­gests recog­niz­ing and affirm­ing one’s value is cru­cial for per­son­al growth, hap­pi­ness, and suc­cess. This can involve self-care, edu­ca­tion, or simply mak­ing choices that reflect one’s own value and potential.

Physics Envy—This term describes the desire to apply the pre­ci­sion and cer­tainty of phys­ics to fields where such exactitude is impossible, like eco­nom­ics or social sci­ences. It’s a cau­tion against over­re­li­ance on quant­it­at­ive meth­ods in areas where qual­it­at­ive aspects play a sig­ni­fic­ant role.

Easy Street Strategy—This prin­ciple sug­gests that sim­pler solu­tions are often bet­ter and more effect­ive than com­plex ones. In decision-mak­ing and prob­lem-solv­ing, seek­ing straight­for­ward, clear-cut solu­tions can often lead to bet­ter out­comes than pur­su­ing overly com­plic­ated strategies. 7Silfwer, J. (2021, January 27). The Easy Street PR Strategy: Keep It Simple To Win. Doctor Spin | The PR Blog. https://​doc​tor​spin​.net/​e​a​s​y​-​s​t​r​e​e​t​-​p​r​-​s​t​r​a​t​e​gy/

Scale is Key—This concept high­lights how the impact of decisions or actions can vary dra­mat­ic­ally depend­ing on their scale. What works well on a small scale might not be effect­ive or feas­ible on a lar­ger scale, and vice versa. 

Circle of Competence—This concept involves recog­niz­ing and under­stand­ing one’s own areas of expert­ise and lim­it­a­tions. The idea is to focus on areas where you have the most know­ledge and exper­i­ence rather than ven­tur­ing into fields where you lack expert­ise, thereby increas­ing the like­li­hood of success.

Fail Fast, Fail Often—By fail­ing fast, you quickly learn what does­n’t work, which helps in refin­ing your approach or pivot­ing to some­thing more prom­ising. Failing often is seen not as a series of set­backs but as a neces­sary part of the pro­cess towards suc­cess. This mind­set encour­ages exper­i­ment­a­tion, risk-tak­ing, and learn­ing from mis­takes, emphas­ising agil­ity and adaptability.

Correlation Do Not Equal Causation—This prin­ciple is a crit­ic­al remind­er in data ana­lys­is and sci­entif­ic research. Just because two vari­ables show a cor­rel­a­tion (they seem to move togeth­er or oppose each oth­er) does not mean one causes the oth­er. Other vari­ables could be at play, or it might be a coincidence. 

Critical Mass—This men­tal mod­el emphas­izes the import­ance of reach­ing a cer­tain threshold to trig­ger a sig­ni­fic­ant change, wheth­er user adop­tion, mar­ket pen­et­ra­tion, or social move­ment growth. This mod­el guides stra­tegic decisions, such as resource alloc­a­tion, mar­ket­ing strategies, and tim­ing of ini­ti­at­ives, to effect­ively reach and sur­pass this cru­cial point. 8Silfwer, J. (2019, March 10). Critical Mass: How Many Social Media Followers Do You Need? Doctor Spin | The PR Blog. https://​doc​tor​spin​.net/​c​r​i​t​i​c​a​l​-​m​a​s​s​-​f​o​l​l​o​w​e​rs/

Sorites Paradox—Also known as the para­dox of the heap, this para­dox arises from vague pre­dic­ates. It involves a sequence of small changes that don’t seem to make a dif­fer­ence indi­vidu­ally but, when accu­mu­lated, lead to a sig­ni­fic­ant change where the exact point of change is indis­cern­ible. For example, if you keep remov­ing grains of sand from a heap, when does it stop being a heap? Each grain does­n’t seem to make a dif­fer­ence, but even­tu­ally, you’re left with no heap.

The Power of Cycle Times—Mathematically, redu­cing cycle times in a pro­cess that grows expo­nen­tially (like con­tent shar­ing on social net­works) drastic­ally increases the growth rate, lead­ing to faster and wider dis­sem­in­a­tion of the con­tent, thereby driv­ing vir­al­ity. The com­bin­a­tion of expo­nen­tial growth, net­work effects, and feed­back loops makes cycle time a crit­ic­al factor. 9Let’s say the num­ber of new social media shares per cycle is a con­stant mul­ti­pli­er, m. If the cycle time is t and the total time under con­sid­er­a­tion is T, the num­ber of cycles in this time is T/​t​. … Continue read­ing 10Silfwer, J. (2017, February 6). Viral Loops (or How to Incentivise Social Media Sharing). Doctor Spin | the PR Blog. https://​doc​tor​spin​.net/​v​i​r​a​l​-​l​o​op/

Non-Linearity—This men­tal mod­el recog­nises that out­comes in many situ­ations are not dir­ectly pro­por­tion­al to the inputs or efforts. It sug­gests that effects can be dis­pro­por­tion­ate to their causes, either escal­at­ing rap­idly with small changes or remain­ing stag­nant des­pite sig­ni­fic­ant efforts. Understanding non-lin­ear­ity helps in recog­niz­ing and anti­cip­at­ing com­plex pat­terns in vari­ous phenomena.

Checklists—This men­tal mod­el stresses the import­ance of sys­tem­at­ic approaches to pre­vent mis­takes and over­sights. Using check­lists in com­plex or repet­it­ive tasks ensures that all neces­sary steps are fol­lowed, and noth­ing is over­looked, thereby increas­ing effi­ciency and accuracy.

Lollapalooza—Coined by Munger, this term refers to situ­ations where mul­tiple factors, tend­en­cies, or biases inter­act so that the com­bined effect is much great­er than the sum of indi­vidu­al effects. It’s a remind­er of how vari­ous ele­ments can con­verge to cre­ate sig­ni­fic­ant impacts, often unex­pec­ted or unprecedented.

Limits—This men­tal mod­el acknow­ledges that everything has bound­ar­ies or lim­its, bey­ond which there can be neg­at­ive con­sequences. Recognizing and respect­ing per­son­al, pro­fes­sion­al, and phys­ic­al lim­its is essen­tial for sus­tain­able growth and success.

The 5Ws—This men­tal mod­el refers to the prac­tice of ask­ing “Who, What, When, Where, Why” (and some­times “How”) to under­stand a situ­ation or prob­lem fully. By sys­tem­at­ic­ally address­ing these ques­tions, one can com­pre­hens­ively under­stand an issue’s con­text, causes, and poten­tial solu­tions, lead­ing to more informed decision-making.

Chauffeur Knowledge—This men­tal mod­el dis­tin­guishes between hav­ing a sur­face-level under­stand­ing (like a chauf­feur who knows the route) and deep, genu­ine know­ledge (like an expert who under­stands the intric­a­cies of a sub­ject). It warns against the illu­sion of expert­ise based on super­fi­cial know­ledge and emphas­izes the import­ance of true, deep understanding.

Make Friends with Eminent Dead—This men­tal mod­el advoc­ates learn­ing from the past, par­tic­u­larly from sig­ni­fic­ant his­tor­ic­al fig­ures and their writ­ings. One can gain valu­able insights and wis­dom by study­ing the exper­i­ences and thoughts of those who have excelled in their fields.

Seizing the Middle—This strategy involves find­ing and main­tain­ing a bal­anced, mod­er­ate pos­i­tion, espe­cially in con­flict or nego­ti­ation. It’s about avoid­ing extremes and find­ing a sus­tain­able, middle-ground solu­tion. Also, centre pos­i­tions often offer the widest range of options.

Asymmetric Warfare—This refers to con­flict between parties of unequal strength, where the weak­er party uses uncon­ven­tion­al tac­tics to exploit the vul­ner­ab­il­it­ies of the stronger oppon­ent. It’s often dis­cussed in mil­it­ary and busi­ness contexts.

Boredom Syndrome—This term refers to the human tend­ency to seek stim­u­la­tion or change when things become routine or mono­ton­ous, which can lead to unne­ces­sary changes or risks. Sometimes, tak­ing no action is bet­ter than tak­ing action, but remain­ing idle is some­times difficult.

Survivorship Bias—This cog­nit­ive bias involves focus­ing on people or things that have “sur­vived” some pro­cess and inad­vert­ently over­look­ing those that did not due to their lack of vis­ib­il­ity. This can lead to false con­clu­sions because it ignores the exper­i­ences of those who did not make it through the pro­cess. 11Silfwer, J. (2019, October 17). Survivorship Bias — Correlation Does Not Equal Causation. Doctor Spin | The PR Blog. https://​doc​tor​spin​.net/​s​u​r​v​i​v​o​r​s​h​i​p​-​b​i​as/

Each men­tal mod­el offers a unique lens for view­ing prob­lems, mak­ing decisions, and strategiz­ing, reflect­ing the com­plex­ity and diversity of thought required in vari­ous fields and situations.

In addi­tion, numer­ous oth­er men­tal mod­els are used in vari­ous fields, such as eco­nom­ics, psy­cho­logy, and sys­tems thinking.

Learn more: Mental Models: How To Think Better — And Faster

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ANNOTATIONS
ANNOTATIONS
1 I had the same approach when learn­ing pho­to­graphy as I star­ted my jour­ney by focus­ing (pun inten­ded!) on aper­ture, shut­ter speed, and ISO.
2 My inner chess voice sounds like Levy “GothamChess” Rozman!
3 It’s worth not­ing that these mod­els are not exclus­ively Charlie Munger’s inven­tions but tools he advoc­ates for effect­ive think­ing and decision-making.
4 Silfwer, J. (2022, November 3). Walter Lippmann: Public Opinion and Perception Management. Doctor Spin | The PR Blog. https://​doc​tor​spin​.net/​w​a​l​t​e​r​-​l​i​p​p​m​a​nn/
5 Silfwer, J. (2012, October 31). The Acceleration Theory: Use Momentum To Finish First. Doctor Spin | The PR Blog. https://​doc​tor​spin​.net/​a​c​c​e​l​e​r​a​t​i​o​n​-​t​h​e​o​ry/
6 Silfwer, J. (2020, April 24). Slow is Smooth, Smooth is Fast. Doctor Spin | The PR Blog. https://​doc​tor​spin​.net/​s​l​o​w​-​i​s​-​s​m​o​o​th/
7 Silfwer, J. (2021, January 27). The Easy Street PR Strategy: Keep It Simple To Win. Doctor Spin | The PR Blog. https://​doc​tor​spin​.net/​e​a​s​y​-​s​t​r​e​e​t​-​p​r​-​s​t​r​a​t​e​gy/
8 Silfwer, J. (2019, March 10). Critical Mass: How Many Social Media Followers Do You Need? Doctor Spin | The PR Blog. https://​doc​tor​spin​.net/​c​r​i​t​i​c​a​l​-​m​a​s​s​-​f​o​l​l​o​w​e​rs/
9 Let’s say the num­ber of new social media shares per cycle is a con­stant mul­ti­pli­er, m. If the cycle time is t and the total time under con­sid­er­a­tion is T, the num­ber of cycles in this time is T/​t​. The total reach after time T can be approx­im­ated by m(T/​t), assum­ing one ini­tial share. When t decreases, T/​t​ increases, mean­ing more cycles occur in the same total time, T. This leads to a high­er power of m in the expres­sion m(T/​t), which means a sig­ni­fic­antly lar­ger reach.
10 Silfwer, J. (2017, February 6). Viral Loops (or How to Incentivise Social Media Sharing). Doctor Spin | the PR Blog. https://​doc​tor​spin​.net/​v​i​r​a​l​-​l​o​op/
11 Silfwer, J. (2019, October 17). Survivorship Bias — Correlation Does Not Equal Causation. Doctor Spin | The PR Blog. https://​doc​tor​spin​.net/​s​u​r​v​i​v​o​r​s​h​i​p​-​b​i​as/
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwerhttps://doctorspin.net/
Jerry Silfwer, alias Doctor Spin, is an awarded senior adviser specialising in public relations and digital strategy. Currently CEO at KIX Index and Spin Factory. Before that, he worked at Kaufmann, Whispr Group, Springtime PR, and Spotlight PR. Based in Stockholm, Sweden.

The Cover Photo

The cover photo has nothing to do with public relations, of course. I share for no other reason that I happen to enjoy photography. Call it an “ornamental distraction”—and a subtle reminder to appreciate nature.

The cover photo has

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