Notes at 1200
So after studying tactics for about a week, I went up above 1200 for the first time since I started. My happiness was short-lived, however, as halfway through most of my games against 1200+ players, I felt like my opponents suddenly pulled out a bigger brain.
Where did I go wrong? Was it a pacing thing, did I need to slow down? Or was I distracted? I recently started a new shift at work, so maybe I was a little lagged from the sleep change. But the more I thought about it, the more stoked I felt. Yet I was losing games that I felt I “should” have won. How was I going to ever reach 1300 (or higher) if I couldn’t stay above the 1200 provisional players?
To some extent, I began to realize that I was over-analyzing a lot of the game. No matter how much I could study Openings, Tactics and Endgames, I would never get any better until I was willing to take risks – that meant undertaking a denial of everything I had learned to this point, and playing from the heart (or from the hip, if that style suits your thinking). How do the good players do it? It’s nice to be born with an innate sense, or intuition about what constitutes a good move in chess, but most of us are never going to play without highly-focused, conscious thought. So where is the balance between the foolhardy and the genius?
So then I looked at the games that I did win, on the road to 1200. It was amazing that most of my wins happened due to luck, time, or blunders. Could it be that my opponents were doing the very same thing that I had been doing? Over-analyzing, and excessively pondering even the simplest of moves? I needed to make a pact with myself: that I would get better in spite of the very things I feared. I was bound to lose some games, and lose rating on top of that, but I have a newfound faith that I’ll be able to win some really good ones, too.
Does it work? Only time will tell. I’ll let you know when I get to 1300 and stay there.