Friday, August 21, 2009

Still on break, still tending my wounds

A recent commenter asked if I'm coming back. Yes, but not yet. Probably a few more months.

I am still not recovered from the World Open. It wrecked me, frankly. I was confident going in (I had recently got a clear win in an U1300 tournament, drawn against a 1900 player in a slow tourny game, I was no longer dropping pieces). I was really starting to improve in my chess. Then I just got smacked down from Caissa at the WO and I still just feel awful about it, like all that time was wasted. Objectively, my play wasn't actually that bad, but it is hard to stomach that I sucked so poorly there (3/9). I still haven't even had the stomach to go look over my games, it just makes me feel dizzy like I'm looking into Dante's hell to think about it. The worst thing is, I actually have to work to maintain even that sucky performance level. That really makes it seem pathetic.

Luckily, I am actually good at some other stuff, like neuroscience, math, etc., so I have been putting my time into writing stuff up in those topics (in addition, of course, to work I have to do in lab!). As you can see at my neuroscience blog (here) I am working up a bunch of notes on the biology/psychology of consciousness that ultimately will probably become a book. Also, I'm writing a linear algebra manuscript for when I teach tech-geeky neuroscience courses. I am actually good at these things, and it is just more rewarding (right now) to focus on those than to focus intensely just to get back to a substandard chess skill. Frankly, it is somewhat humiliating that I suck so much at chess after over four years.

I'll probably come back though. It draws me, I still play a little blitz. I probably will take about three more months off though. I probably need a freakin' psychotherapist (though I admit the comments on my confession post were extremely helpful for getting me back on my feet--I just need some time I think).

Lesson learned: no more overdose tournaments for me. From now on, I don't want to play in tournaments that are more than two days long, preferable just one day long, and even more preferably one day a week spread out over multiple weeks.

33 Comments:

Blogger BlunderProne said...

Caissa is cunning and baffling. She will taunt you and lure you back in time allowing you to think you may very well have your wits about this game. You will get that draw or win with a player several hundred points higher than you in some battle. With a wink and Caissa saying “ Come here sweetie!”, you will get lured again to jousting in the tournament field.

So, the question remains: how not to suck at chess? I can only speak from my experience strength and hope. I am a mere amateur who’s last tournament results was abysmal. The siren call of the ratings game makes us think that the ONLY measurable metric we have in our growth as improvement seekers. This drives people to play only in tournament sections that they feel is “safe”. This will make grown ups cry like children when a child whose age doesn’t even match the years of practice and studying one puts into the game, beats them rather effortlessly. People will pay 300 bucks to enter a mega-tournament, lose 2 rounds, then pay an additional 250 bucks to re-enter with quicker time control in hopes to (1) win the money they think is owed to them and (2) once they realize they aren’t in the money they drastically try to salvage what is left of the precious metric called ratings.

If you focus on ratings as a gage to how well you do at chess, you will suck. It’s like day trading, you’d better have a bottle of Excedrin and some antacid because it’s going to be a rough ride, not for the feint of heart.

I have learned to focus on other less tangible metrics to gage how well I am not sucking at chess. I tend to look at how my understanding of the game is improving. There used to be a time when I was freaked out by openings and not knowing the line. After spending time studying and developing an appreciation for going over whole games, I realized I am no longer at odds with that unknown. When I face a situation that is unfamiliar, I can evaluate the position and make reasonably good moves and make it to a playable middle game. That’s progress. Also, my losses tend to be more of inaccurate plans rather than a hanging piece. As hard as it is to look at, my losses are much better. How you lose can be a good indication of your improvement.

So, if my positional play is better, my opening understanding is better, and my endgame play is better, why is I don’t show that in my rating? I believe in time it will. Human factors are at play that skew a linear progression. I am Blunderprone… meaning I am human and prone to make errors. Looking at the types of errors I make today and comparing them with how I lost a year or two ago, makes me feel better than looking at losing 70 rating points in a tournament.

8/21/2009 02:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are always going to be phases like this and they don't mean that it's all in vain, just that there's always going to be a long road ahead.
I have a rating of around 1800 and I still feel I completely suck at chess sometimes. You now have reached a level that it is justified for you to get angry at yourself when you blunder. In the past maybe you would have been lucky when you didn't blunder at times.

Also, it may be that you are actually getting more of a grip on the game like you wrote. If that implies changing your thought process or doing more during one move it can result in excess strain that results in a dismal performance. For every two steps forward there's one step back.
There's also over-expectation, physical stress, nervousness and all kind of outside factors when it comes to big events.

Don't be too harsh on yourself. Take your time, remember you do this for fun and then come back with a vangeance. Good luck!

8/21/2009 05:54:00 PM  
Blogger chesstiger said...

I cannot help to think that you put to much importance on chess that you forgot that its your hobby and that a hobby suppose to be fun.

Its oke to want to get better and to want a certain rating but dont think the world end is near if it takes time. Nothing comes easy, it takes time to become good. And frankly speaking, 4 years is nothing compared with the 20 years i have put in chess.

So lets talk again over 16 years and see how good you implemented all the chess knowlegde you possess, which is alott.

8/21/2009 05:55:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

BP: This should be required reading for the adult chess improver. Seriously, very good stuff. I know you have said some of it before, but it is so important, so easy to forget, that I should tattoo some bits like that guy from Memento.

I was improving. There is no doubt. My results were better. I wasn't dropping pieces. I was starting to play based on plans and strategy rather than just reckless nutball craziness (not that there's anything wrong with crazy wreckless chess, it's just that I want to savor the strategy a bit more). I thought, I have to get at least 5 points at the World Open.

Then I hit the wall of riduclous talent in the U1200 section. Humbled, I crawl away, but I do want to joust again. I need to look at all my games. They are all instructive. Except for the ninth game, where I just frankly wanted to get the F out of there, I put up a decent fight.

A dog, when kicked, will either run away yelping with his tail between his legs, or he will bare his teeth, raise his hackles, and put up one hell of a fight.

I need to get my tail out from between my legs and bare my freaking fangs again!

8/21/2009 05:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I enjoy your blog and frequent it often. I’ve read what you’ve had to say about chess and like I said, have enjoyed what you say. Having said that, I have a question that I would like to ask you. Why don’t you get better at chess, and how long have you been playing? I’m far from being that good and I’m not trying to be offensive, but why don’t you get better? Maybe all the things you are doing are not what you should be doing?? I started chess two years ago, my rating runs about 1450+. I put maybe an hour or so a day into chess, either playing online, studying tactics or going over my games. I’ve bought many chess books, but honestly have not completed one. The closest I have come to reading the books I have are the tactic ones.

I’m an OLD (LOL) beginner player. A fellow that I met at our local mall (rated around 1650/1700) took me under his wing and has helped me out a ton. The guys that play at the mall are brutal, and, they also have a tournament once a month, they are TOUGH!!
I play online, at the mall and NOT at the tournament. I’ve never been in a USCF tournament and I’m not a member. My ranking comes from online games. I don’t have the experience to compare a tournament with either OTB games or online games, I imagine that a tournament brings more pressure to the table. The guys I do play against are the mall/tournament guys, and I think that is just as tough as a tournament. Again, I’m not writing this to be offensive to you, but to quickly drop my two cents worth.

Things started to really change for me when I finally stopped thinking ME, ME, ME during the game. Does this always work? Of course not, but it IS helping… me, me, me.
Think about it.

8/21/2009 07:17:00 PM  
Blogger BlunderProne said...

Huzzah! That’s the spirit!

I also believe, as my father told me, “ You have to get your face rubbed in the mud in order to get better.” Practice putting the theory in practice.

Do you remember your early Calculus classes? Learning chess is like working with a new formula. You may find that after doing a few problems, you will remember it the next day or week. ( Solving tactical puzzles for instance, is like doing problem sets but the gain is short term)

You may even find that manipulating the formula differently and approaching it with varied complexities left you feeling that you almost have a grasp of what is involved and think you mastered the concept. Sure if the test came up within the week, you’d nail it. ( this is similar to studying endgame positions and varying the king position slightly)

But now, let’s say, you’ve compounded the problem and have new concepts you are juggling, similar formulas but for different functions, “Should I use a Fourier transform or the Laplace” For a moment of time, you have that distinction down despite the similarities. A month down the road, if you haven’t used either of these formulas, it would take some effort to recall, and work through a problem. ( This is similar to studying an opening and depending on how your opponent responds, you reach a crucial branch)

Now, say, you had a job that required you to use the Fourier series on a regular basis to analyze and process waveforms to determine the types of filters required to meet a regulatory requirement. Then you design a filter and use the Laplace transform to characterize the transfer function of the filter you designed with it. It would become routine because you use it on a regular basis.

Do you get where I am going? Theory doesn’t work unless you balance it with practice. In order to get better, one needs to play more serious games. You know more than I do about the neural process of the frontal cortex. But what little I do know, with new concepts, the synapses are still finding the pathways. It’s only after working the new concept over time on a regular basis, the forest of synapses finds a clearer path.

I'm sure you knew all this... but you may have needed to hear it again.

8/21/2009 10:58:00 PM  
Blogger BlunderProne said...

One last extension on the calculus analogy: Its not the number of equations you get right, its the fact that you are learning how to use the equations and understanding where you make the mistakes that count.

8/21/2009 11:01:00 PM  
Blogger CHESSX said...

Take your time and get back to the reason you play chess in the first place,enjoyment.

We all need time out now and again.

Chill and see you soon.

8/22/2009 11:02:00 AM  
Anonymous J.A. Topfke said...

Scaaars? You wanna see psychological scaaars?

With my apologies to Robert Shaw, from the movie Jaws:

HOOPER: You were at the World Open?

BRODY: What happened?

QUINT: Asian scholastic player sacrificed two pawns for an attack on the kingside, Chief. I was on my way back from the fourth round where I’d delivered mate, Anastasia’s Mate. Eleven hundred men signed up for the tournament. My opponent only used twelve minutes. Didn’t see the first scholastic player until the fifth round: Asian kid, thirteen years old. You know how you tell that when you’re at the chessboard, Chief? You tell by looking at how well they play the endgame. Well, we didn’t know. Because our tournament had been so successful, no re-entry had been paid for. Heh, heh. They didn’t even post the tournament results for a week.

Very first round, Chief, scholastic players come cruisin’. So we were cordoned off into tight groups, according to rating. You know, it’s kinda like old square, like you see on the calendar in the Battle of Waterloo, and the idea was Asian kid plays the nearest man that man he start attacking and counter-attacking and defending and sometimes that Asian kid get beat…sometimes he wouldn’t get beat. Sometimes that Asian kid, he looks right into you, right into your eyes. You know the thing about an Asian kid? He’s got lifeless eyes. Black eyes, like a doll’s eyes. When he attacks your king, he doesn’t seem to be livin’. Until he mates you. And then those black eyes roll over white. And then…ah, then you hear that terrible, high-pitched screaming. Your face turns red. In spite of all the studyin’ and the practicin’, they all know opening theory to the twentieth move and they rip you to pieces.

Out of book in the first few moves. Lost an entire piece! I don’t know how many entries; I don’t know, maybe a thousand. I don’t know how many games the Asian kids won; they averaged six points per section.

On Thursday morning, Chief, I was seated next to a friend of mine, Herbie Robinson, “Moonbat” on ICC. King’s Indian player. Boden’s mate. I thought he was asleep. I reached over to wake him up -- bobbed up and down at the chessboard just like a kind of top. Resigned. Well, he’d thrown away a huge material advantage.

July the third, Mr. Hooper, a tournament director watched us. We were in time trouble and he walked over to our section and watched the games. He was a young tournament director, a lot younger than Mr. Hooper. Anyway, he watched us and he monitored the games and three hours later a big, fat volunteer in a yellow t-shirt comes in and starts to post the pairings for the next round. You know, that was that time I was the most frightened…waiting to see who I was paired against.

I’ll never play the Scotch Gambit again.

So eleven hundred men signed up for the tournament, one hundred and sixteen men won prize money and the Asian kids took the rest, July the fifth, two thousand and nine.

Anyway, we got drunk at the bar.

8/22/2009 02:45:00 PM  
Blogger CMoB said...

Well, glad to hear you are comming back. I was starting to worry. Your departure would be a great loss to the chess blogosphere.

8/23/2009 09:09:00 AM  
Blogger Tommyg said...

Hey BDK!

I think taking time to lick our wounds is a good thing. Heck I have had to do that with music on many occasion and that is my profession. Chess and Music are BOTH capable of being VERY frustrating. They are both based on logical mathematical rules but at the same time one must transcend the rules at the time of performance. This can be very counter intuitive.

Enjoy the time off and come back firing. I am performing in and around the Grand Tetons and The Rockies this week and their sheer beauty and grandeur are more than enough to put chess in it's proper place for awhile! :)

8/23/2009 10:45:00 AM  
Anonymous linuxguyonfics said...

I don't know how people play multi-day tournaments as I have a mild headache the next day after just one day; it must be a stamina event.

Last "multi-day" tournament I played, I took the middle day off and went to a 4th of July party, and was braindead enough to have needed it. When I got back, I easily won my first game against an A player who was playing all the rounds, and he had even beaten a Master earlier.

I understand about taking a break because for me it's more draining to play OTB than online. But when I am playing OTB, I don't really plan on playing any online now during the week.

8/24/2009 07:54:00 AM  
Blogger Zweiblumen said...

I stepped away from chess for a bit, in part because I was too busy to put in the time to play at a level that satisfied me, and in part because I decided I needed a hobby that didn't hinge on competition. I'm back now, but the process of coming back has been painful (board vision definitely takes a hit).

On the topic of the large tournaments, you have to take them with grains of salt. My experiences have taught me that the large events bring out a different class of player and that a 1300 at my local club is not the same as a 1300 at a big tourney. I don't know if it's sandbagging or just that the big money brings better players, but I feel that my effective rating is dropped a fair bit in these events.

Finally, and this I feel is a critical thing for any chess player to come to grips with, we must always expect to lose as much we win. For all practical purposes, the ladder of players above us class players is infinite. You'll never get to the top. You may slowly improve your play, but as you improve there's always more folks at your new level. If the rating system is accurate, and you play people rated about your level, you should win about half the time. Worse, if you're in the business of trying to play up to improve, well, you're going to lose more than you win.

For this reason, your win/loss record _cannot_ be your metric for success. You have to look for other evidence of your improvement. Deeper understanding of your positions, becoming aware of more and more subtle errors in your play, and so forth. Yes, over the very long term your rating will improve if your chess does, but it will fluctuate greatly as you have good and bad tournament results, so that is also a tough thing to watch too closely.

I've got more to say but this is getting too long....soon my new and improved blog will be up and I'll discourse at length on these topics.

My final advice is to take your chess slow and steady. I didn't kick my improvement into high gear until I stopped doing big weekender's once every few months and started playing in the month-long swiss tournaments that are nearby. Playing exactly one serious game per week over a long stretch has done good things for me. I have enough time to process each game and learn from it before being thrown back into the fire, and it has become part of my routine rather than something that happens in fits and starts. What's good for me isn't good for everyone, I know, but that's been my experience.

Good luck!

8/24/2009 08:43:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

I'm not ignoring all your great comments, just been extremely busy will have to respond later tonight or tomorrow (have been helping someone with a move).

Great stuff though.

8/24/2009 11:47:00 AM  
Blogger es_trick said...

As a person of Asian descent, I must lodge a complaint against some of the comments posted by J.A. Topfke about chess players who happen to be Asian. They are offensive and inappropriate.

8/24/2009 12:57:00 PM  
Blogger david_korn said...

it truly hurts me to hear this, but you know what you need.

especially as men, we dont need advice, but friendship and having those around us believe in us.

i believe in you. i know that you are a brilliant man who can do whatever he chooses.

no advise. the question simply is, what do you want, and of what you want, in life--work, love, leisure per Wilhelm Reich,--what can you share about what you seek in leisure, among chess, that you can share here?

i will never be a big wall rock climber. if i kept taking a winger or a big wall with a spry lithe wizzened coach, would never be said that i wasnt good, but learn to do it so that if i am stuck on a glacier, can get down in a pinch without dying of head injuries or terror or both!

you get fun, or heuristics, or community, or strain, or physical stimulation, there are many. i am willing to guess your needs and wants are fulfilled and as you know better than me for sure, as a scientific psychologist, its all about expectations.

as a man, in love for the first time in ten years, probably found the woman i will marry, a mrs transformation much as there is a blunderwife and mrs BDk, cannot expect to make love like i did at age 25 but can still enjoy it :). age 51 the body changes!

much love, dk

8/24/2009 03:03:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

If you know the movie Jaws it's pretty damned funny.

For those born after 1975 or so, here's the eference.

My dad's favorite scene from Jaws (don't know why he liked it so much perhaps because he was in the military and it reminded him of hanging with his buds during 'nam)

8/24/2009 03:06:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

J.A. Topfke, that is truly hilarious.

8/24/2009 03:10:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

David: congrats on finding Mrs DK!!!

8/24/2009 03:28:00 PM  
Blogger es_trick said...

I'm disappointed that you find Topfke's post hilarious.

The comments are, in my view, dehumanizing.

8/24/2009 05:36:00 PM  
Blogger katar said...

Don't overthink things. When snotty kids ask me what my rating is (in order to size me up or assess my worth as a human being) my answer is always the same: "I'm rated PG-13." If they act confused, i clarify, "for graphic violence." :) It's all just a big absurd joke. Chess is fun, remember to have fun. For me the fun is tied to the social and artistic aspects of the game. As for the competitive side... My friend played a Vegas tournament and had the eventual winner ON THE ROPES in round 1, missing several wins, and then my friend finished the tournament like 2.5/7 while the other guy won with 6.5/7.

Congrats on your candor, modesty and honesty in this blog. No surprise this is one of the best and most popular chess blogs on the whole internet.

8/24/2009 08:40:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

BP: The Calculus analogy is excellent, I'm going to steal it. More good stuff you could make into a whole post.


ChessX: Good point. It's about having fun. I started playing chess because I wanted a surefire way to relax and have a fun game. An unwinding mechanism that I can take part in 24/7 because of the magic of the interwebs. I thought I would get really good really fast. Ha! When that didn't happen, I got more serious, more invested, it started to feel less like a game and more like an IQ test or something, which got my ego involved, which made it less fun.

JA Tofke: Funny, and sorry es_trick I understand why you would be offended, but he had to pick someone to play the role of the shark. It's playing on a stereotype (the young Asian chess prodigy), which most of us have played against in tournaments (I played against at least two at the World Open). They are like sharks trying to tear you up. And then inserting that word-for-word into the Jaws script, I think you have to watch to appreciate it otherwise it would come off as racist.

Zweiblumen: I think playing one a week is a much better idea. I don't have the stamina that many people do, and got burnt.

Katar: Thanks for the nice comments. I don't know how you do it dude. Lawyering and chessing. As a friend of mine recently put it, I have a finite number of cognitive ergs to spend in my life, and I don't want to spend all that many on chess, which is largely a black hole of intellectual energy (though not quite, as some objects of intellectual interest are able to leave the hole and entertain or help others).

I much prefer being honest when I am on a roll, kicking ass. Being honest on a down turn is not so fun.

Anonymous asks: "I’m far from being that good and I’m not trying to be offensive, but why don’t you get better? Maybe all the things you are doing are not what you should be doing?"

Dude if I knew the freaking answer I would be rated higher than ~1500 at ICC and like 1100 at USCF after nearly five years of this fucking game!

Also, in my defense it's not that I haven't improved. My play going into WO (and during WO) was way better, not dropping pieces, starting to actually dislike games that I won by people just giving me pieces. I wanted more positional strategic fights and my play was good enough that I was getting them (even in the WO games people, including me, weren't dropping pieces--that is unheard of, in my experience, in the U1200 section of any tournament). Careful what you wish for, as my improved play was nowhere near enough for this class.

You should play in a rated USCF tournament it is not comparable to online or buddy-chess in terms of intensity/fun. If you played in the WO you could enter any division (U1200, U900, etc) if you haven't any USCF games. But I wouldn't recommend starting there it's rough.

8/25/2009 11:47:00 AM  
Blogger es_trick said...

OK, I'll back down. I did see Jaws, (about 30 years ago) but didn't recognize the script, even though that's probably one of the more famous passages from the film.

8/25/2009 03:10:00 PM  
Blogger Chessaholic said...

I know it's easier said than done, but just forget about those results. It's just a board game after all :)

I am still amazed/mystified by the fact that this funny game can be mastered by some people that otherwise seem to be, well, not the brightest human beings, while some otherwise very smart people struggle with it beyond comprehension. Chess seems to have its very own lex naturalis.

8/25/2009 03:49:00 PM  
Blogger LinuxGuy said...

"Things started to really change for me when I finally stopped thinking ME, ME, ME during the game."

Yes, it's easy to stop thinking about how people will make fun of you on your blog, if you lose...not.

"and like 1100 at USCF after nearly five years of this fucking game!"

I believe my first rating was around 1340 or higher and I bounced around up to 1380 before dropping down to 1338 after about 5 years of studying and tournament play. Chess saw more time given than my college homework, probably.

What did I get better at? Probably calculation. I've picked up the tactics thing more recently. Certainly playing thousands of games of chess online has helped my endgame and strengthened my opening repertoire or at least confidence somewhat. Studying my games more, particularly slow games, has helped my sense of "what is (possible)".

I remember a friend at the time, he was around 1070, pshh, seemed quite strong. He even knew how to offer pawn sacs that were sound, and was better at the endgame than me. He was playing a 900 level player and we went over their game. They both played it really strong. I had a better sense of where the pieces should post for sacs to come, but as it was in calculation, there was seemingly nothing better than what had been played. I was only 1338 or so at the time, too, but couldn't really find anything other than develop stronger and not to worry as much about certain threats.

The difference between a couple rating classes can all come down to a single move, which means that things like time-trouble can influence the outcome of the game sometimes.

8/26/2009 08:17:00 PM  
Blogger Nezha said...

Nezha here

First of, as a pure-blooded asian, I found the script funny as hell. If only I can be that kid.

Second of all, BDK remember that while you might be improving, the folks you play with are prolly improving as well. They might even be working harder than you on chess right now. Seeing as you have another profession to think about. For all we know, some of them folks you played with are even now shut inside an apartment contemplating the secrets of the dragon.

'Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!'
The Red Queen - Through the looking glass

8/26/2009 11:45:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Nezha: great to see you, and thanks for the comment!

8/27/2009 02:43:00 PM  
Blogger es_trick said...

Have you heard of this research?


HOW GAMES CHANGE YOUR BRAIN

http://cosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2009/09/01/2049186.aspx

9/01/2009 05:08:00 PM  
Blogger Polly said...

I'm late in jumping in on this comment stream. I was not doing much blog reading on my recent trip. It was tough enough writing what I did.

Blunder hit the nail on the head. We have to look at the parts where we have made improvements in our understanding of the game. We have to look objectively at what was right and was was wrong.

There are similarities in how chess players get ready for the big tournament, and an athlete prepares for the big race. Both the chess player and the athlete does the training to prepare for the big event.

In my experience as a competitive age group triathlete there was a very important part to my race preparation that I think chess players don't think about as much. The taper. This is the period a week or two before the big race where one starts to ease back on the training to give the muscles a chance to be refreshed and recovered from the hard efforts leading to to the event. Doing an effective taper is crucial to feeling one's best on race day.

I think as chess players we often go into a big event without giving our mind a chance to be refreshed and recovered from our efforts. We may be cramming in bunches of tactics puzzles the night before. We might be playing lots of blitz games on ICC to keep our minds "sharp" or try an experiment on some new line we've been working on. During the tournament itself we may be playing blitz between rounds, or perhaps overdosing on analysis of our game or watching others' games.

All of these things can take a toll on us both mentally and physically. It's important to not only look at what we did in the tournament itself, but what we did to prepare for the tournament. Did we leave "our game" so to speak at ICC? That's often what happens to athletes who don't taper right. They've left their race at the track after doing extra intervals 3 days before the big race.

Tournaments like the World Open are brutal both physically and mentally. We can be the "big fish in the little pond" in our local clubs, but suddenly we're thrown into the ocean where the really big fish and sharks come to feed. There's also the added pressure of how much money we spent to travel to the tournament, stay in the hotel, eat our meals, and the big buck entry fee we payed for the privilege of getting smashed by some snot nosed little kid. We feel like we need to have something to show for all that money spent.

I went into the National Open feeling pretty good. I had just won my club championship. Even though I knew I was the big fish in the little pond, I felt I was playing pretty well and figured I could at least get an even score against my peers in class B. I even thought I could get a plus score. I did not envision starting off 0-3, losing to random players, none whom scored more then 2.5 points.

The main thing I learned from the experience is don't be so damn cheap. Fly out a day earlier and spend the money on the extra hotel night, and play the regular schedule. Playing the short schedule 3 time zones away just doesn't work when you show up the day before.

9/02/2009 02:43:00 PM  
Blogger david_korn said...

Dear BDK and friends, hope that neither you nor your community minds my sharing an active link here, but I have been away for SO long, after two days, one single comment at my chess blog post.

Oh well, as I wrote you, popularity is not an issue, I am far and away now mentally, but did want to be able to share my YouTube videos, both business and pleasure with a few friends, not all of whom but some of which, i am sure, read your wondefull blog.

If someone were to see one of the serious videos, that would be 'video 01 knowledge management' and for an outrageously funny one, "Flamming Cauldron".

jop markets are so net crowded and oversupplied, it seemed time well spent to make some business videos showing me speaking, since it is what I do best... and, in the end, hiding the idiosyncratic videos to my main google account off site here, not desired--as yet.

i am one person everywhere i go, and do not seek the mainstream, but the self actualized few who seek same.

warmly, dk

Be well, dk

9/03/2009 03:45:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Polly: That is awesome. You know, I once started a post about this very same topic, applying the principles of tri training to tournaments in chess (I have done three this season, will do one more this month). The toughest one for me was the taper--is that really helpful for chess, or does the rust accumulate so fast (i.e., days) that tapering is a mistake?

OTOH, if you train 3 hours a day, tapering down to .5 to 1 hours a day before the tournament, focusing on sleep and nutrition, would probably be very smart.

Just as you can't get in better shape in one week, there is no real chess improvement in one week (well, perhaps some opening stuff for the higher-level classes but at my level even that isn't important enough to justify it).

Very cool to hear you thinking about it this way too.

9/03/2009 03:56:00 PM  
Blogger Polly said...

When I speak about tapering in chess, I don't mean no chess activity whatsoever.

In triathlon training we don't completely stop doing any of the three sports, but in that week before the race we do less and we do it at an easier pace. If we stop all together there is too much of the de-training affect. On the other hand doing intense workouts such as intervals or a bike/run brick within that last week is going to do nothing for that race.

I think you're on the right track with your example. If one is accustomed to doing 3 hours of chess training a day, then cutting back to 1/2 hour or less a day in those days leading up to the tournament is a reasonable compromise between feeling like rust will set in, and having your brain overloaded with too much stuff.

Often I've seen kids on some of the teams I've worked with spend a half hour in the morning before their first round game, just do a few tactics puzzles or review the opening they possibly expect to play in that round.

The whole trick is to keep everything in balance as much as possible. Sometimes we can't control circumstances, but if we're confident in our preparation then that gives us the ability to deal with the crap.

9/03/2009 04:20:00 PM  
Blogger Gabriel said...

"The worst thing is, I actually have to work to maintain even that sucky performance level" That was sooo funnyyyyyy!!!!!!!!!!!!

9/09/2009 06:11:00 AM  

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