OTB Anxiety


I almost quit chess (at least OTB chess) because of anxiety. I was afraid of loosing and making blunders. So much that I made even more simple blunders. I have an ELO about 1700, but I lost on simple ELO 1200 tactics!

So even before the game started, I got nervous and the game was already lost before it even started!

Some times I actually play an OTB game and play like 2000+, which makes my coach believe that I can get close to ELO 1900 and maybe more.

I have similar feelings regarding work etc. A pessimistic approach.

So what I am searching for, is some kind of tool to start believing in succes/win. Maybe a good book (not chess book) to turn my negative thoughts into positive ones. 


Maybe you need a magic feather.


In learning chess, we do not learn much if at all from our successes but can learn a lot from our mistakes/blunders (especially if we review our earlier lost games from time to time).  Winning a chess game consists of:  seeing our opponent's blunders early enough to do something about them, while avoiding making too many of our own blunders.

If you're focussed not on the game but self-consciously trying to avoid blunders, you'll not be thinking in an 'open' enough fashion to make the most of your OTB games imo. 

Learn to embrace mistakes as truly they're how we learn to do better, and to accept them (and eventually minimize them), even in a public setting.


ps.  It may help if you develop a 'routine' while contemplating making a move.   Such as a couple of questions to ask yourself:   What seems to have been the reason for your opponent's last move?  And, what are the obvious and not so obvious consequences of the move you're about to make.

Since your focus just now is to avoid blunders, it sounds like you'll not need to look more than one or two moves 'deep' for such questions.

pps.  And, I agree:  the magic feather approach has merit.


Thanks :)


Try some of the articles on lifehacker.com


Try some chamomile tea and valerian root.  It helps me.


I found playing a computer program wound down to a low level allowed me to reduce the number of blunders I was making; I'm still not playing well OTB but I don't blunder every game anymore.

I don't know if that's related to your problem, or if it might help anyway, but it's an idea.

Second suggestion: why do you get anxious? (You don't have to answer here; but it's a question you might ask yourself.) What does a loss mean to you? If you're anxious about losing, maybe go play some games and concentrate on something other than the result: play an opening you've learned, don't blunder, and if you win, great; if you don't, well, so what? Congratulate yourself on what you did right (maybe the opening, maybe parts of the middle game, maybe spotting some combination and playing it (or avoiding it) and don't fret too much.

Everyone I've ever heard of has lost a pile of games before they start to draw some and win some. "Overnight successes" ... well, they're usually not overnight, even if the preceding work and losses weren't noticed very much.

By the way I have never, ever, had anyone be anything but courteous to me when I've lost; sympathetic if I've lost by blundering more than once; a little disappointed (once) when a blunder of mine ended an interesting game, but everyone you play will have "been there, done that, got the tshirt".

Probably there's a bully at a chess club somewhere, but at my local club (and the groups I'm involved with here) any such activity would lead to repercussions.

Good luck!


Read Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. Keep in mind that the riches he talks about is more than just money. I know it will help you. Good luck!


im a much better otb player i think its because i dont mind loseing. and play chess for pure enjoyment. im always upsetting better players then me because of this. just play chess to enjoy your otb game will get better.


Another comment, which might fit you or not: are you anxious about losing a chess game, or anxious about something more general, e.g. seeing losing a chess game as a failure? If the latter, yes, you probably want something more general than chess advice, especially if your studies or job are being affected too.

On the chess side:

I had a terrible tournament last weekend: 15 minutes/side is hardly my favourite time control, but even so, I only played two games acceptably and barely remember the others.


1. I played strongly in the first round, and lost due to lacking endgame knowledge. Maybe I'd have lost anyway, but I gave a stronger player a hard time, survived to the end game, and understood his explanation of my error. So a loss, but I'll count it as a successful experience.

2. My second-to-last game I won, then blundered back my extra material, then won on time. I'm not pleased by the blunder, but two successes were obtaining a winning position and then hanging on when my opponent was in time trouble to win on time.

Despite a clear blunder in my final game, the others were lost in the general tactical mele and short time control. So I've got the blunder-every-game thing (mostly) under control, and now I have to figure out how to play 15 minute time controls. Back to Hiarcs wound down to something I can beat at that time control, I think, to gain familiarity, and then some live games here at that time control to get "real" (more real than a computer opponent, anyway) experience. That's the way I worked on my blunder habit.

I'm also giving myself time: it's only nine months since I took up chess again, and I wasn't terribly strong twenty years ago anyway. If I've come this far in nine months, I expect to improve further in the next six.

Good luck. Good on you too for asking for help! I hope you succeed. (Actually, having asked for help, if you persist in seeking a solution, success is practically guranteed. You'll just have to hang in there until you find the solution that works for you.)


Maybe you are focusing on the outcome too much?

Try to just look at the current position, and make a good move -- or at least a safe move that will not give you trouble.