Still Curious S3E3 - John Fawole
Intro
John Fawole

The better player is always lucky. A better player can be losing a game, and they're able to save it. There are some positions you can't save, especially if your opponent is playing correctly, but your opponent is excited, then it becomes really very difficult for them to win. There's always that saying that the hardest game to win in chess is won game, because now, oh, you feel like you are winning this game and you're not putting in the effort to bring out the best moves that can win the game. You're just assuming, oh, I'm winning, I'm winning. But if you're opponent does not resign, the game is not over. So you need to like make sure you fight to the end to make sure the game is over.

Danu Poyner

You're listening to the Still Curious Podcast with me. Danu Poyner. My guest today is John Fawole who is an International Chess Federation master, US national master 2003, Nigeria junior chess champion and the 2013 Nigeria chess champion. John is an international chess Federation instructor, chess in education lecturer, and the founder of Bruvs Chess Media and its sister company Bruvs Chess educational services. John also holds an executive master's degree in business administration and a bachelor's degree in computer science.

Today's conversation is unsurprisingly all about chess. But it's also about effort obsession and how the love of something can keep us going and take us to places we never imagined were possible. It's about how achievements arise from patience and commitment and the interesting dynamics between professional competition and play.

John Fawole

If you wanna be a good player with chess, you need to be obsessed with it. And I believe it applies to everything in life. If you want to be great at anything, you have to be obsessed with it and make sure you're able to do it well. it's only when you do what you love that you are able to commit to it. You are happy about it, you have passion for it. and you don't see it like a joke. It's just like a normal part of you So just do what you love and you are able to just achieve things you want to achieve in life.

Danu Poyner

John discovered his love of chess very early on. And while he was fortunate enough to have parents who were very supportive. It wasn't always straightforward.

John Fawole

my academics was failing because, I was doing more time on chess than on academics, so it really affected my studies in uni. I was going to represent Nigeria in the World Junior Chess Championship. A very great opportunity for me to play with the best junior chess players in the world. I took a leave of absence for school for six months just to go to play in this tournament. But the main problem was I didn't tell them that I took a leave of absence. They've got to find out, and they were really mad about that. It was just so much passion for chess and you made some crazy decisions,

Danu Poyner

At its heart though, this isn't a story of one person's quest for ultimate success. While John's initial ambition was to become a Grandmaster, he lights up most when talking about his grassroots education and advocacy work and how he's able to use his accomplishments and expertise to help others, whether it's building capacity to put his country's achievements on the map, or using chess as a way to teach young people important life skills like creativity, innovation, and pattern recognition.

John Fawole

You know, they have to like, okay, jump like a knight, and they're moving from one square, to another. Oh, move like a bishop. And they're going on the dark corner on the squares. it's just so interesting for kids and once you enter the class, they just want to like, oh, chess, chess, chess. They always look forward to it.

Danu Poyner

I learned a lot from John who was very gracious in answering my many newbie questions about how chess works. We also had a good discussion about how the game is evolving, thanks to software tools, AI and representation in popular culture. Enjoy, it's my conversation with John Fawole coming up after the music on today's episode of the Still Curious Podcast.

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