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Michael Song has a pretty good read on which of his students will succeed in chess – the ones who have a hatred of losing.

The 23-year-old international master, who came to Canada at the age of two from Nanjing, China, said his family instilled a solid work ethic in him. He credits that mindset with his success at the game.

“If I do something wrong, I’ll work hard to see what I can correct for the next time,” he says.

Song studied computer science and finance at the University of Waterloo and has always done well academically. But he isn’t sold on the theory that people who are good at math will also excel at chess, or vice versa.

He thinks the best players are the ones who work hard, try to find the reasons for their mistakes, and take the competitive aspect of the game seriously. Even though success at the board came early for him, winning several Canadian and North American youth events, he continues to train with Canada’s top-rated player to improve his game.

Song knows the working world will soon take priority, but in the meantime he continues coaching and playing in as many tournaments as he can.

Michael Song v Diwen Shi, Windsor, 2016

Handout

How does White gain a decisive advantage?

White played 15. Nxf7! And if Kxf7 White wins with 16. Qb3+ e6 17. Nxe6 Rxe6 18. Qxe6+ Kf8 19. Bf4! Instead, Black declined the sacrifice but lost soon after.