My Chess Psychology

Oct 27, 2008, 6:23 PM |

Since starting a year ago, I have learned a lot about how to deal with chess psychology mentally and what to do.  Let me share with you some of my insights.  My very first tournament started very badly.  I lost to a 900 in the first round and hung a rook due to tactics.  I was mortified that I had lost to such a terrible player.  A real crux took place in the 3rd round when I played a 700.  I pinned her queen to her king and won it.  I became quite cocky and hung my queen, losing the game.  I was simply at a crossroads because I knew I was so much better than what I had done the first time.  Cockiness would tend to be my undoing; even now I really make a goof.

My first issue in chess was the fear of losing.  At the Junior High Nationals, I was whipping everybody, but accepted draw offers time after time because I did not want to risk losing.  I came out of that tournament with 2 wins and 5 draws.  I was not very satisfied.  I continued to try not to lose instead of win on several occasions and began breaking out of that habit this summer.  This also ties into the next point I want to make.  Fear of higher rated players.

I always had a big fear of higher rated players.  I always tried to scrunch up like an armadillo and hold up on a draw.  Sometimes I would be in a rook ending in which I had drawing chances and trade into a king and pawn ending just to say I got that far.  It was really quite sad.  I have played the state champion three times now.  The first two times were earlier and I always reached playable positions, but played passively and got hammered.  This time around, I played with a mean intensity I have never played with before and ended up winning.  This is the end of my eternal struggle with fear.

I also used to get into severe time trouble.  I would be winning, but would often times blow the win on time scrambles.  This was really annoying, as I would outplay people but still lose.  Finally, after losing two games because of that, I made my moves decisively and intuitively.  It paid off.  I am now doing really well at OTB tournaments, playing quickly and with fire on the board. 

I would also like to talk about cockiness one more time.  This is by far my biggest area of concern right now.  In June, I blew two games in which I had a decisive material advantage (up a piece and a couple pawns) in the endgame because I did not think and allowed my opponent too much play.  Plus I made a bunch of blunders.  NOT GOOD!  I blew it this Saturday when I was up an exchange and two pawns and totally forgot that my opponent could advance his passed pawn and I couldn't stop it.  I was pretty embarrassed.  I still need work on winning the won game.

I hope that other people just starting out in tournament play can learn something from this and never to be afraid, don't get in too much time trouble, and don't be overconfident.  Thanks!