100 Rating Points in 2 weeks

Oct 17, 2010, 9:36 AM |

In a two-week period this month, I gained 100 rating points.  I chalk it up to two very different factors - one unlucky, the other good planning.

While playing softball on our company team last month, I ran in from my centerfield position on a pop fly.  Unfortunately, our shortstop was running out to catch it.  We hit at full speed with his shoulder hitting me flush on the jaw.  Result: concussion.  I took some time off work due to the physical aftereffects (nausea, headaches, etc.).  Seeing that I couldn't do much else (and seeing that most TV is complete crap), chess.com became my refuge while I was off work. 

With nothing to do but play chess, my distractions were limited.  My planning was a bit deeper, and I had more time to check for tactics - both mine, and my opponents.  I've always suffered from "chess blindness", and regularly dropped pieces in my games to simple tactics.  However, with the distractions removed, this happened a lot less frequently.

The other factor was my decision to switch how I play my games.  Instead of making my move, then immediately switching to the next available game, I opted to play through several moves in one game.  Sometime, my opponent and I played as many as 20 moves in a day.  Again, playing this way reduced the number of distractions.  I also found it much simpler to maintain the concept of the games.  Rather than trying to remember what my plan was in 20 simultaneous games, concentrating on 1-3 games at a time is much easier on the brain.

Psychologists tell us that the interruptions in our day (e-mails, texts, phone calls, etc) reduce our effective IQ by interrupting concentration.  It appears that my recent hot spell here at chess.com is consistent with that.  I had one stretch of 10 wins in a row, which was part of a longer run of 14 wins and 2 draws in 17 games.  Most of these games were played against opponents in a 1400-1600 tournament.

We'll see what happens now that my life is back to normal.  Sadly, since returning to work and all of the other distractions, I've already played a game where I dropped my Queen.  Note to self: stop trying to make a quick move while you're on hold.........