4 Tips To Bounce Back From A Tough Tournament

4 Tips To Bounce Back From A Tough Tournament

Alisa_Melekhina
FM Alisa_Melekhina
May 16, 2015, 12:00 AM |
18 | Fun & Trivia

 The only thing worse than having a bad tournament is having to play another tournament immediately after. If you’re not careful, you may allow your poor performance to affect your subsequent results.

Follow the tips below to bounce back. These helped me recover from a devastating run at the U.S. Women’s Championship this year to being on track for medals and norms at the Women’s World Team Championships in Chengdu, China beginning a few days later.

I had a performance rating difference of around 300 points between the two events!

1. Analyze your losses.

As painful as it may be, it’s important to review your losses in their entirety. It may be worth getting the second opinion of a trusted coach or friend who will be candid with your mistakes.

It’s easy to blame losses on one-off factors: “I blundered in time-trouble” is the usual scapegoat. If you think in this way, then you may simply remember the one losing move, thinking that you won’t make the exact same blunder the next time. This only alleviates part of the problem. A loss is usually the result of a variety of factors, especially if you’re playing on a higher level.

Consider whether you were in an unfamiliar position or structure that led you to play the wrong plan. Did you miss your opponent’s counterplay? Why were you in time trouble? Were you spending too much time in an unfamiliar opening, or was it lack of confidence that prevented you from making moves quickly? There’s always more than originally meets the eye when it comes to losses.

2. Don’t isolate yourself.

It’s all too common to see chess players withdraw after a tough defeat. Part of it may be due to embarrassment, and part of it due to self-deprecation. After all, in chess you have no one to blame but yourself. This mindset cultivates a level of self-loathing not present in other sports. Don’t let it get to you.

The truth is that unless it’s the extreme scenario of being one of the tournament leaders vying for the top prize in the last round, your loss is not that significant to other players. We all lose − no one will think lower of you as a person.

Chess players are the only ones who fully understand each other’s ups and downs. Don’t cut yourself off from the social aspect of chess – it’s already enough of an isolated game as it is. Moreover, your peers can help offer insights about your games that you may be too biased to notice yourself.

3. It’s not the end of the world. 

Really. We’ve all experienced the suffering of a bad tournament: it seems like we can’t catch a break. However, a bad tournament is hardly the worst thing that can happen. I know it’s hard to accept that “chess is just a game” when you messed up a +10 position, but perspective is always important.

Think about it this way: You have the wits and luxury of taking the time to compete in a chess tournament. Don’t let the results of a game warp your senses of things really worth getting upset over.

4. Don't play for anyone but yourself.

On a related note, it’s important to not allow the pressure to get to you. Forget that your friends may be checking in on your game, or that your colleagues will inquire about how you played this weekend. Tournaments like the U.S. Championship have the extreme case of broadcasting the games to an audience of 500,000 viewers accompanied by player interviews. Even in these situations, you cannot let anything but the position in front of you inform which moves to play.

There is a beauty in the painstaking process of outwitting your opponent in chess. Chess is not played to win money or to please others. If you’re not playing for the love of the game, you’re playing for the wrong reasons. 

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