3 "Mental Mistakes" costing you chess games!

3 "Mental Mistakes" costing you chess games!

NM BlakeyBChess

Most chess players spend their time practicing their calculation, playing chess games, and studying the nuts and bolts of the game.

This is all well and good - but today, I want to talk about 3 MENTAL mistakes that are costing you points!

Mental fortitude is critical to success in chess? How many of the following errors are YOU guilty of? Let me know in the comments below!

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1. Hopelessness

We've all been there. Perhaps it's late in a tournament and you haven't had the results you've wanted. Perhaps you're in a nearly-lost position, but you don't want to resign...so you play your moves lazily and quickly, and miss your chance to get back in the game.

I've played against players who hardly used 20 minutes of their clock time in the last round of a bad tournament, just wanting it to be over with. And you know what? I've been guilty of it too.

But you can't let these actions become habits! You're not only losing valuable rating points, but you're also missing out on even-more-valuable knowledge and experience you could have gained from playing your best in these games.

In my opinion, the best way to overcome this obstacle is with some pre-framing. Before going into a tournament, tell yourself that you WILL end up with some horrible positions - and that one of your big personal goals for this tournament is to play as well as possible in these positions.

When you get into a horrible position or are having a terrible tournament - don't view it as a nightmare, but rather a personal challenge.

2. "Pre-Time-Trouble" Trouble

We've all been told the dangers of playing too fast or too slow, but I wanted to talk about this because I've so rarely heard it discussed!

When analyzing my games many years ago, I noticed a pattern that was causing quite a few of my rudimentary tactical mistakes:

I'd be playing slowly, always asking for my opponent's reply before making the move, double-checking my calculation, and carefully navigating some complex position...and then I'd look at the clock and start to worry a bit.

"Oh no, I have 30 minutes left compared to my opponent's 42 now. Where'd my time advantage go? I have to make 11 more moves to reach the time control....that's less than 3 minutes per move - less than I've spend so far! I better speed up."

And then I do my best to avoid time trouble and play quickly...and blunder.

By trying to avoid time trouble...I've already incurred the disadvantages of time trouble! I sped up before I had to. Does this make any sense? I wanted to avoid feeling rushed...by purposefully rushing?

Getting into time trouble needlessly is a very bad trait, but far more chess players are plagued with the disease of playing too fast. Don't be so terrified of time trouble that you impose its downside on yourself prematurely!

3. Not playing enough

The number one killer of people's businesses, careers, and life goals is not incompetence.

It's inaction.

And your chess career is no different!

There are a lot of people out there looking for the "right time" to get serious about chess or to play in their first tournament. I'm here to tell you that it ain't coming.  If you're waiting for the perfect moment, you'll be waiting a long, long time.

If you're reading this article, you're probably ready to go out and play in a tournament - so go do it! What are you waiting for? Don't worry that you might "get a low rating." That's fixable. Get better at chess and your rating will inevitably follow.

If you really can't, "create" your own tournament here online. Commit to playing 5 games in the span of a weekend, with a time control of G/30 or longer. Then analyze your games, look for patterns in the mistakes you made, and come up with a plan to improve upon your weaknesses!


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