Spur of the Moment: Over-Adjusting Your Play

May 22, 2014, 1:59 PM |

I've been training lately for the Washington Open, taking place this weekend in Seattle.


For the most part I've been playing 15 0 games on ICC (username thchozenOne), but I plan on doing other things such as a 15 0 game against myself and analyzing recent games in depth.


The key is to make adjustments. Every 15 minute game I play (especially ones I lose) I find my most critical weaknesses that affected my performance during the game, and the next day try to overcompensate those weaknesses.


For example, a lot of my losses (and wins) are caused by my poor time management earlier in the game during non-critical positions. I will then have to blitz out late-middlegames and endgames with less than 3 minutes left on the clock (out of 15 at the start). You can tell when the postions are critical thanks to ICC's built-in computer analysis feature. Only in the late middlegame or endgame, computer evals go from -3 to +10 in a single move! Anyway, after the game I try to adjust my play to not have the same thing happen in the following game.


Why do I say OVER-adjust? It comes from something I learned at Band Camp my freshman year at Kamiak High School. We had the type of marching band that did competitive field shows. You were supposed to march to your next "dot" from your previous dot in a certain number of counts. While we were learning drill, sometimes you would overshoot your dot, and other times (more often) undershoot it. All paths between dots varied greatly in direction, number of counts, tempo, and distance. Therefore, the key was to develop muscle memory with your legs and feet, effectively hit every dot at the exact right moment.


If you undershot your dot this time, you had to overshoot it next time. If you went too far left last time, try to go a little too far right the next time, and vice versa. With many practice reps, you would eventually get closer and closer to your dot until you hit it precisely every time, in theory.


This is opposed to if you DON'T over-adjust. You make same mistakes over and over again. In marching band, that may mean undershooting your dot every single time, but by varying degrees. In chess, that may mean getting into time trouble every single game.


Making adjustments is good, but if you don't over-adjust, you will never get that sense of balance, the "Goldilocks" zone, of where you need to be. You need to speed up, for example, but not so much that you blunder in the middlegame as in the last game. That is how you improve.