The Casual Gamer #2: SLOW DOWN!
Hmmm, okay, I got him now. Swing my Queen in for the kill after he moves---WHAT?
How the....Oh, how did I miss THAT?!?!?
I've always been a charge-out-of-the-gate type of guy. Open with my queen pawn, move a bishop out for an early check, then start 'playing the game' for real. I've been the recipient of a Fool's Mate on more occasions than I'd care to admit to the chess community at large. I've also lost many, many more games than I've won. On one site that I play on, I'm ranked in the 6th percentile...as in 94% of the other players are better than I am.
So, yeah. I suck. Like, black hole level suckage. Small planetoids disappear everytime I play, and are never seen again.
The past few weeks, however, I became so frustrated with my playing that I finally decided to do something about it. I picked up one Bruce Pandolfini's books. At first, I HATED it. I couldn't understand why the first chapter didn't delve right into openings, and gambits, and other 'cool' chess terms! No, it was the basics. Bleagh....basics...who needs'em!!!!
So, I read on. Grudgingly, I read on.
...and I started to learn something. A common theme throughout the entire book. The theme was two very simple words that I use EVERY DAY at work.
That's it. Its THAT SIMPLE! I tell my employees that every single day. Slow down, think about what you are doing, formulate plan. Slow down, step back, and see it from the other person's point of view. Slow down, take a deep breath, and remember that you can handle this.
So, why wasn't I applying this to chess?
I thought about this for many days. No, not constantly like some monk at a cloister, silly, but..ok yeah kind of like a monk. I studied my active games, and went through my recent game history examining my moves. I found mistakes that could easily have been avoided had I not been in such a rush. If I hadn't been so intent on 'looking ahead 4 moves' to actually look at the 3 moves BEFORE that move.
<-----That's my King. He falls down alot.
So, after watching my rating cruise down to an uncomfortable 898, I started paying attention to what I was doing, and those two prolific words presented to me by Mr. Pandolfini. I started watching, taking my time, and slowing down my game.
I try and envision each 'player' in the dance on the board, and what they can do in reference to what I want to do. I visualize the board from my opponent's perspective, and try to think through what HE is trying to do.
It is simply slowing down that has allowed me to bring my rating up over 100 points in the past few weeks. I continue to battle my aggressive nature, and have to remind myself that I can be aggressive AND calculating, by taking it slow and finding out what is more aggressive...the brash pawn capture, or the checkmate.
Mate beats material any day.
So, the Casual Gamer's pearl of wisdom for today is two words.