To Play or To Study: The Chessplayer's Dilemma
One of my New Year's resolutions was to play more chess this year. My problem was last year (2015), life, work, school, etc. got in the way of playing many rated games. I hadn't play a rated game since June 2015!
I got caught in a trap where I kept thinking I needed to study more before I could do well in a tournament. What you really need to do, is just "bite the bullet" and get in there and just play! Below are some tips that helped me get back to playing in tournaments.
Tips for Playing in a Tournament After a Long Break
- Lower your expectations: It's just a feat that you are playing in the tournament. Lower your expectations and just treat the tournament like a giant study session.
- Ask a friend to join you: If you have friends there, you have someone to go over your games with. If you are super rusty and having a bad tournament, you at least have people there to have fun with.
- It's more important to have fun: It's cliche but it really is more important to have fun at the tournament than doing well after a long break. If you are not having fun after a long break away, I'd really reevaluate whether you should even play chess anymore. After a long break, you should be craving some good chess competition.
- Go over your games intensely: Go over your games and find out your strengths and weaknesses. They might be different from before you took a break! You may find your opening knowledge is lacking or that you've suddenly become better at tactics! Go over your games with a friend, coach, teacher, computer, or just yourself and find out how to patch up your weaknesses and accentuate your strengths. Any competent coach/trainer/teacher can tell you what you are strengths and weaknesses are.
- Fake it until you make it: Even though you haven't played in a long time, you need to at least fake confidence. You cannot do well in chess without confidence, and it's not as fun to not believe in yourself.
Finally, don't let yourself take that long of a break again. Play 6 games at least every 3 months and you don't have to worry about this again!
Soon I will post some of my games from the MLK weekend tournament with puzzles and instructive points in each contest. Thanks and good luck in your future (chess) endeavors!
For Rounds 1 & 2 of the aforementioned tournament, click here
For Rounds 3-6 click here