An End to Nerves and How to Win with Black

An End to Nerves and How to Win with Black

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Doomclaw asks:

I am fairly new to tournament chess, but in the few OTB tournaments I have played I can’t seem to avoid getting very nervous before and during my games, which sometimes causes me to blunder. Can you make suggestions on how to stay calm and focus on the game?
Dear Mighty Doomclaw:

Doomclaw? I would think your opponents would be the ones who are nervous when facing a name like that!

Actually, frayed nerves in over-the-board play is very common. I remember having this problem in my first years of playing. In fact, I would literally be shaking from the mix of stark terror and competitive hormones coursing through my body that demanded I club my opponent to death with any weapon I could reach!

After several tournaments I finally calmed down and no longer had any problem in regard to nerves again – even in big game finals where a win would give me a tournament victory. However, I know of some seasoned veterans that still feel the attack of the butterflies at the start of each and every event!

I don’t think you will be able to cure this problem right away; it’s part of the whole tournament experience and will cure itself over time. However, there are some things that might help. Do you eat lots of sugar before or during play? If so, stop. Do you drink 50 cups of coffee before starting your over-the-board battles? Try to cut down to 20 cups. Is your mind a seething mass of chaos and, as a result, completely out of control? Heavy meds might be the answer, or (a far more healthy alternative) give meditation a try. If you view meditation as being some strange, anti-American thing, change the name! Call it “freedom thinking.”

Anyway, we’ve all been there and nerves are a natural part of the process. Enjoy the rush, and if you blunder … well, we all do that too!


Niranjan Navalgund asked:

May I know the best line for 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 g6 5.c4? Please recommend a line where Black has good chances to win.

Dear Mr. Navalgund:

Ah, a question about one of my favorite openings! Let's take a look (don't forget to click on MOVE LIST to see all the text and moves):


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