Thursday, January 5, 2017

Fixed Problem and Pre-First Tournament Nerves

It is 11:05pm the night before I leave for a three day tournament in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Over the past week there has been an important development in my chess understanding that I wanted to share. Let me backtrack and give a bit of my own personal history. Not long after I first learned chess I wanted to play all the time. At that time (the dark ages) my family had a dial-up internet connection which was "ok" but not the best. The result was that I could not play chess live. My connection was constantly dropping off and I would become increasingly agitated with it as I lost games just from my poor internet. The solution came in the form of correspondence chess. I could play chess for hours, play well, and if my internet wasn't working I could come back the next day and not lose a game.

Looking at those early correspondence games I played horribly. In fact, I played worse than even bullet or blitz games these days. However, on the site I chose I was one of the strongest on the forums. That's another story ...

Back to this week. I caved and fell back into the old habit of playing correspondence chess. I started twenty games in a matter of two or three days. My play suffered. I was not properly focused on any of the games and made some howlers. I made moves on my phone and spent only a few minutes on a position. Essentially, I was playing one long simultaneous exhibition match. I was winning a few but mostly losing. I was happy to see games end and start new games. My opponents weren't taking enough time either. I did zero analysis in the post-mortem of the games. Therefore, what was the point of the games? And then the big epiphany hit me ... and the reason for this post ... correspondence chess AND blitz chess are not comparable skills to standard time control over-the-board chess. Sure, they have uses, I will still use blitz in my preparation and to keep me tactically sharp but correspondence is out. The return on the time investment in correspondence is just not sufficient. That's my sacrifice for the cause of mastery this year. I loved my time playing correspondence chess but I just can't do it and work on my OTB game. Sacrifices must be made.

My final note is on my nerves, Because of all this terrible correspondence business my ego had taken a huge blow, If you can't beat 1800s in correspondence then how can you hope to make master in a  year. I see now that this was an oversimplification and that in fact any master might have trouble playing twenty 1800-1900s at once. I reduced the number of games immediately. Games with poor positions that might be saved or even won were immediately resigned and I started no more games. I played a few blitz games and impressed myself with my focus. Even the losses were of better quality playing only five games or so in a session. My confidence has been restored and I know I'm ready for the event starting tomorrow.

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