This past weekend I learned an interesting lesson. I was playing in the beginning section of the Mind Games Tournament held at Bethel College. Yes, I know my rating on here is much too high for that but my OTB rating is quite low (below 1000 at tournament time). The TD, a fellow team mate from the Indiana State Team Championships, was kind enough to get us a room on the campus for the tournament.
In the intermezzo between Rounds 3 and 4 I have become quite relaxed. At this time I had a score of 2.5/3, including a draw acquired in extreme time trouble against a superior opponent. Needless to say, I was quite content with myself at this point. In the next round I was paired up with another team member from the previously mentioned Team Tournament. My rating was higher then his and my game seemed to be on the mark for the day so I felt no fear. In the opening I began with the Nizmo-Indian Defense and was developing naturally. All the sudden I got some bug that causes insanity in chessplayers. I decided, against all good common sense, to try some tactical tricks on my opponent in the hopes of pulling off a mate with a pawn grab. He was able to defend it quite naturally and all the sudden any hope of a win went out the window. After playing several mediocre moves I ended up in a lost endgame down a rook. At this point I essentially lost first place in my division to the very same opponent. The lessons learned were three-fold.
1. Do not become fixated on you score or the rating. Worry about each game as if your life depended on it.
2. If you have some information on your opponents choice of openings, play accordingly. Some players are notorious for playing the same openings against 1. e4 or 1. d4.
3. Do not become complacent and keep to your plan. Nothing will kill your game with a logicless plan at a quick mate like a sound defense.