Focus Early or Get Lost on the Chess Journey
I'll never forget pursuing the 50-mile hike merit badge with my Scout troop. It was a beautiful day. We had packed our backpacks with food and supplies for our day-long hike through a beautiful forest. We hiked to a waterfall. I remember some were slower and others faster. Some needed more frequent stops to rest and catch their breath than I preferred.
On our way back, somehow we missed a turn on the trail. We got disoriented. Scouts never get lost! We walked and walked and could not figure out where we were. Eventually night fell. Rain began. The Scoutmaster and I (as the oldest Scout) got the guys settled, covered with a couple of ground covers (plastic sheets) and left them to sleep while we continued looking for the way out. At one point, we found a hollow tree in which we slept for 30 minutes while it poured down.
Finally, the Scoutmaster and I discovered a farm house. We made a call. We figured out where we had gone wrong. We went back to retrieve the group. Obviously, when we did not return at our scheduled time, parents had become worried, and people were scouring the woods looking for us. When we called, they came and got us to take us to our vehicle.
If we are only wrong by 2% in our direction, we can miss our destination by hundreds of miles. It is important that we make adjustments early! Otherwise, it will be harder to reach our destination than it would have been.
The same is true in chess. One wrong move and the whole game can come crumbling down. Two moves with one in the wrong order can do the same. Focusing on one aspect (offense or defense) carries the same consequences. I played a game this week in which I carelessly lost a knight to take a pawn. The game went from my ability to comfortably attack to having to be more defensive because I was no longer ahead.
Make sure your early moves are solid. Consider seriously every move by your opponent. Don't become so absorbed in your own plans that you lose the game. Don't focus so much on your plans that you miss better plans and moves if they come up. For instance, in a game earlier today, I had checkmate in one but missed it. Stay focused, especially as you flip back and forth between games here on chess.com.