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Starting all Over

Before last night, the last time I had played a serious, competitive game of chess was August 2012. Over a year. It's the longest gap since my first tournament as a 12 year old.

This past week, as I prepared myself to play, it was a very strange feeling. I had no idea what to expect. I did not know if I would be stronger or weaker than my opponent. I did not know any openings. I wondered what it would be like to play a serious game. It was refreshing and new: like entering the chess world for the very first time again.

I remembered the first time I walked into the kids' chess club, and the first time I went onto the UC campus for an adult quad. The feelings matched what I was feeling now.

My principal chess preparation was to do tactics trainer. I did badly on each occasion. I had little patience (the ticking timer did not help with that). I overlooked obvious things for myself and for my opponent. The experience gave me no confidence at all.

And so I went into my game with a mental approach that I have found helpful across a wide variety of competitions and challenges, and now dub "the humble approach." It's to assume that you are in a tough situation, that your opponent (or the challenge you face) is superior to you, and that you should just do as well as you can. Play as many good moves as possible, or score as many points as possible, or make the game as long and difficult for your opponent as possible. Eventually you will lose, but you are not afraid of losing, you are just trying to make a good match of it. This approach brings a surprising number of wins Wink

Playing was really fun. My patience and concentration reappeared from out of nowhere about 10 minutes into the game. I was still nervous, and double-checking, and calculating poorly, but I was trying. I calculated something, rather than totally giving up on calculation and avoiding confrontation. And while there were some holes in it, I was not mad at myself for that: I had lowered my expectations. I just think it will be fun to learn to play chess again, and rebuild a few of the skills that I used to have. I'm really looking forward to playing more.

Here's my game from last night:

 

 

The match was incredibly tense. A few minutes in, I considered us serious underdogs, since our rating advantage was on the first two boards, and I knew my rating no longer meant anything, while Jesse was struggling with repeated lengthy disconnections. These would have thrown anybody off-- I could even imagine just giving up and walking out when you can't even see your chessboard or make moves. He had to move into a rowdy room with a hundred other people to be closer to the internet and finally "settle in." Ultimately, he hung in there, and defended his horrible position for a long time. With the match tied 1.5-1.5 he even turned it around, and won a very close endgame with both players on their last seconds. The whole Mechanics family rushed to congratulate him on his heroics as he lifted us to a 3-0 start on the season.

Nice. At least we won 3 matches this year, that's something!

Comments


  • 12 months ago

    sven00100

    Hey, David!  Glad to see you're back in it. . . I've definitely benefitted from your videos, and I hope you're having fun getting back into this :)

  • 12 months ago

    Chessmo

    Nicely done and congrats on getting back to playing the game.

  • 12 months ago

    Mr_Tarkanian

    OFF TOPIC:  When you see the name Irina Krush in print, do you immediately go to the Deep Purple song, 'Hush', in your head? Or is that just me? 

     "Krush, Krush.....I thought I heard her callin ma name now, Krush Krush"

  • 12 months ago

    philidor_position

    I love these personal introductions to games and tournaments, explaining how you approached the game, what kind of mental state you tried to adopt etc. Those make the most interesting game analysis, I think. I second ozzie_c_cobblepot's comment, Krush's recap of her tournament where she achieved the GM title was similar in that aspect.

    I'm now on my way to looking at your other games in the league, and hope to see more frequent blog posts. Smile

  • 12 months ago

    IM dpruess

    Thanks, Ozzie. She's a very good writer, i appreciate the comparison :)

  • 12 months ago

    NM ozzie_c_cobblepot

    Great blog, David. Enjoyable to read, very accessible. Your writing style is very conversational.

    Have you ever considered a collaboration with Irina Krush? Your writing styles are similar, in my opinion.

  • 13 months ago

    pdela

    Two thumbs up!

    Irina Krush got GM norm maybe I am wrong, thought you worked with her

  • 13 months ago

    IM dpruess

    thanks :-) it's a possibility...

  • 13 months ago

    hicetnunc

    Agreed, a book on your approach to chess with a selection of your games would certainly have some success Smile

  • 13 months ago

    NM linlaoda

    nice game! I wish you would write a book or something.

  • 13 months ago

    IM dpruess

    yes, he does remind me of Garfunkel ;-)

  • 13 months ago

    Mr_Tarkanian

    Harper Blynn - that is probably a better choice.  Side note, doesn't that lead singer in that group remind you of a young Art Garfunkel?  Natalie has nothing on them.

  • 13 months ago

    IM dpruess

    Cam lost a wild game with black on 3, Kesav drew a not very interesting game with white on 4.

    MrTarkanian, i dont know that song. i was thinking of a Harper Blynn song :-)

  • 13 months ago

    Mr_Tarkanian

    David, remember that silly Natalie Cole song, "Starting over Again"??  I picture that song playing in the background as you begin this game.....

    and then someone immediately shuts off the radio because the song is too weird for this occasion.

    I picture these lyrics as you gaze at the chess board:

    "and now we're starting over again
    it's not the easiest thing to do
    i'm feeling inside again
    'coz everytime i look at you ( chessboard )
    i know we're starting over again
    this time we'll leave all the pain away
    welcome home my lover and friend
    'coz we are starting over over again...."

  • 13 months ago

    GM dbojkov

    David, good job both otb and blogwise Wink ! How did the kids in the team do?

  • 13 months ago

    negotiate

    gl with the humble approach rensch, pruess, well doing

  • 13 months ago

    NM fpawn

    Boy it has been a while since I saw Pruess in action.  Based on the first impression, he is still the same player: a beast with initiative.  Go David!

  • 13 months ago

    IM dpruess

    thanks everyone :-)

  • 13 months ago

    piotr

    Good job! :) Great to see you in action!

  • 13 months ago

    hicetnunc

    Bravo David !

    Dommage que tu ne donnes pas de cours, ce serait vraiment intéressant d'apprendre avec toi, car ton approche et ta philosophie du jeu sont fascinantes. Smile

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