Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn.
This is a very popular saying that’s even more popular among chess players. As good as you get, you can’t help but lose a game from time to time or draw a completely winning position which, to be honest, sometimes feels just as bad as a loss. Defeat is part of the game and in my opinion, one of the most notable characteristics of a sports person is knowing how to deal with it and accepting it with grace.
It is never easy to lose a game, but there is nobody else to blame for it but yourself, so there is no point in taking it on your opponent or somebody else.
The best thing you can do is take a deep breath, calm down and analyze your mistakes. In this article I am going to share a few things I’ve learnt from my experience as a player and coach:
1.Identify your mistakes and learn from them
This is something we’ve constantly underlined in our articles.
The best thing you can do once a tournament is over is analyze your games and see where you’ve gone wrong and why. See what your faults are and try to cover them accordingly in your future training sessions.
- But what if you’re having a bad tournament, how can this advice help you during the tournament?
You don’t need to analyze the games deeply, but try to be objective and see what’s really going on.
- Are you wasting too much time in the opening and end up in time trouble?
Try to play the logical moves if you’ve forgotten the theory and keep more time for the critical moments in the middlegame.
- Are you missing candidate moves?
This is usually a long term fix, but on a short term (tournament) you can try to pay more attention to your calculation and be less superficial.
And the list can go on.
2.Reset your training routine
Is it more than just a few bad games, are you having a streak of bad tournaments?
Check your training schedule, there’s probably something you’ve been doing wrong. Look at your games, identify the most common mistakes and see if your usual training is still appropriate.
If it’s not, change it!
3.Reset your mindset
Chess is such a complex game; sometimes the actual chess training is not really what you need. It is a mind game for a reason.
Psychology plays a very important part in every game. Sometimes your mistakes have to do with your brain relaxing too soon (see winning positions) or getting too stressed about it (again, see winning positions where we suddenly start playing with TOO much care).
To fix this, I find it useful to not only analyze your games, but how you felt during the game – what were you worried about, were the moves you were considering really dangerous or were you seeing ghosts?
All this can help you understand how your brain works and it’s up to you to find the right way to “train” it to react otherwise.
It’s normal that having a bad tournament and failing to win even against lower rated players will increase your desire to win a game.
So much, you will try to win at all costs. You will be searching and calculating even when there’s nothing to calculate. Sometimes you will force matters when it wasn’t really necessary and you’ll end up trading pieces or in a worse position.
This is not, of course, the road to winning a game. The best thing you can do is to relax. Remember how much you enjoy playing chess and go little by little. Build your position and play logical moves without thinking about the final result. Enjoy its beauty!
Self-confidence is perhaps the most important trait of a chess player. No matter how many games you’ve lost before or who your rival is, be confident that you can beat him/her. Remember – if you believe it, you can achieve it!