Quote of the month - “Don’t be afraid of losing, be afraid of playing a game and not learning something” - Dan Heisman
August is almost over so it's time for my monthly update. It was a very interesting month, I've learned a lot of useful things and I'm grateful that I have discovered them early in my chess career. Why then bitter sweet you may ask.
The greatest Romanian football coach Emeric Jenei, who won the Champions League with Steaua Bucharest in 1986, was saying that he doesn't make illusions because he doesn't want to live disappointments. Some say that it's better to approach everything with a winner mentality but my opinion is that it always depends. If you're a person who doens't know how to handle downsides what will you do when you hit a streak of defeats? I've been there and I know it's damn hard to turn on the engines again. The passion and joy of playing chess is gone and you start questioning your hobby, wondering if there aren't any other pleasant activities out there.
I love to experiment new things so my approach starting September will be slightly different. I won't set anymore goals regarding my chess.com and chesstempo ratings. I'll forget about them and also about deadlines.
My only goal will be to focus each time I make a move and choose the best one. I'm pretty sure that this is a superior approach, I know where I want to be and I focus only on the steps (moves) that will lead me to my goal. I'm in this for the long term and the bonus of this method is that you can enjoy the road.
Pep Guardiola, my favorite coach, was never thinking about winning The Spanish League or The Champions League trophy. He was focusing only on the next game and on how to win it. I guess I don't need to mention his results.
Modifications in my study approach:
As you already know I spend 2 hours daily playing chess or reviewing my lost games and solving tactics problems. If this helps to get better there are a few tricks that can accelerate the learning process. Hicetnunc was kind enough to share them:
"I give my students to fight the chronic lack of focus that may affect you when playing online chess. Btw., this is a common problem, as the emotional involvement is usually low, and there's always the next game...
My recommendation is to have two separate sets of games : fun/training games and "serious games".
Fun and training games, you can play whenever you want and as you like. However, for "serious games", you can adopt a few rules :
- only 2 or 3 "serious games" a week
- longer time controls (30' is a minimum - I recommend 1hr +)
- time and date should be decided in advance (at least 48 hrs.)
- ideally, get a distinct rating for those (not easy on chess.com, but there are ways to do this by using other servers for those serious games)
This is meant to emulate real OTB competition, where the # of rated games is limited, and you must make those games count. If you arrive tired at your tournament games, well too bad for you, as you probably won't get the chance to play again before a couple weeks/months"
I'll try to follow as much as I can these suggestions and stop playing rated games on my mobile phone, at work or in pubs.
The other trick is about how to study tactics. The main goal of this is to memorize tactical patterns that might occur in a chess game. Instead of doing 60 minutes of problems I'll do only 45 minutes and the last 15 will be spent reviewing the missed exercises. Also, at the end of the week I'll dedicate 1 hour foe reviewing my missed puzzles, sorted by descendant rating. I think it's a good way to memorize them better.
My results in August:
As you may notice, after reaching the peak of 1321 I had a massive drop. I'm saturated of tactics problems at the moment and in the last days I've skipped them. It's strange that in this period my chess.com rating increased a lot. Breaks can be beneficial sometimes. My chesstempo rating is only 8 points higher than last month but I'm glad that I've reached that 1321 peak.
My chess.com rating increased with 154 points and I'm pretty sure that I'll reach 1200 pretty soon. This number is important because this means that I've doubled my chess knowledge. On 4th of July I had a ranking of 597.
I would like to thank Hicetnunc and gpobernardo for their help in analysis and for sharing their chess wisdom with me. Finally a big thank you for every person that defeated me online or OTB, you are one of the reasons why I continue to get better at chess. Thank you for awakening my competitive side!
See you at the end of September or in live games!
Later edit: I've just received an email from a friend. He is worried because I've skipped my rugby training, some drinking sessions related to this sport and he doesn't understand why I'm not attracted to rugby anymore. That's the bitter truth unfortunately, I'm not enjoying anymore a game like I used to do. But instead I can spend 4-5 hours analyzing a chess game and feel great after. One of the reasons is that I see many similarities between these 2 games: the pawns are the forwards, the bishops are the wingers, the knights are the centers, the queen is the fly half and the king is the full back. In chess you have tactics to break the opponent's pawn structure, same in rugby, you have pick&go to break the opponent defence line. I'll stop here and with the risk of being considered mentally ill maybe I'll post something in the future regarding this subject.