It's Not How Many Times You Get Kicked
...But how many times you get up, right? Or is that just something losers tell themselves after a particularly hard beating? Well, in any case, it's a saying I have used to remind myself of the big picture whenever things get tough. Right now, as I recover from a poor performace at the first ever Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St Louis GM Norm Inviational!, I am eager to play in my next event -- The Northern California International (starting in roughly 4 hours from now).
I will freely admit that I struggled to keep myself focused and calm after losing my first five games in a row in St Louis. After "letting it all hang out" so to speak, I did eventually find myself on the other side of my "chess tantrum". Which if you're wondering what that looks like, it basically consists of me crying to my wife about how hard I have it competing against other chess professionals (ie not being able to study more or as much as them, having a full time job that doesn't involve playing chess more often, not being good enough anyway so why am I even doing this, I should quit chess forever, why I am even on this planet, the world is ending, etc, etc, etc ).
But before giving you some games and "food for thought" in regards to where my mind set currently rests, I'd like to thank the CCSCSL and it's Executive Director, Tony Rich, for inviting me to the prestigious event mentioned above. To say I am excited about what is going on in St Louis and their involvment in the chess community would be a gross understatement.
The club is amazing, the staff professional, they have great visions and goals for improving the American Chess Scene, and I wish them nothing but the best. I hope to return to St Louis in the near future, and maybe even play a little better next time. I also enjoyed taking a tour of the World Chess Hall of Fame. See the outside (located right across the street from the club) of the Hall of Fame below:
In general -- back to me now -- I would say I am looking forward to "the-year-of-chess-that-will-be-2012". As mentioned in the first paragraph, I am about to play in a major tournament here in Freemont, California that - regardless of the results - should serve as a good stepping stone towards getting my head screwed on a little tighter when it comes to my chess improvement. I think it would be fair to say that my experience in St Louis reminded me of how much work I need to do if I am going to make real strides towards the GM Title.
Specifically, the work that needs to be done is over the chess board: Playing in more tournaments (which by itself is my 2012 resolution, as simply playing more, for me, will represent a deeper commitment to the game than I have shown for almost 3 years); building my mental discipline and stamina back to where it was when I was playing all the time and earning my IM Norms (2009); and making an effort to disect my games in search of mistakes, repeating patterns, weaknesses in my opening repertoire and approach, etc
Exactly how that process looks from here, I don't know. I do know that playing more would be a step in the right direction, and hopefully, I can build up the muscles of good study habits (in order to accomplish the other things I listed) along the way... What I do know -- and learned/was reminded of again in St Louis -- is that freaking out over every loss, throwing tantrums at every bump in the road, and losing the sight of what's most important in life when things aren't going as planned, is exactly what I can't to do.
So, long story short: It's time to get back up again! It starts this week in California and will continue at the next event of 2012 (not known at this time). Enjoying the journey is going to be key to keeping me on this long, and potentially very hard road, towards achieving my goals. All I can do is focus on the next tournament... the next game... the next move... and control my own focus and discipline. Add a little hard work to that mindset, and the results I want should come with time.
Wish me luck and expect a post tournament blog. Until next time...
PS -- Oh yeah, here are some games from St Louis I analyzed and some more pictures from the Hall of Fame...