Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Mind Games 201

Having survived my near death experience from round one it was time to see what round two would bring. I looked at the pairings, and my opponent's name seemed vaguely familiar. I then realized it was one of the coaches from my team's big rival. I caught hell last year for losing to him in Houston at last year's grade nationals. Again I had to keep my mind on the present and not dwell on past results.

There have been some posts on chess superstitions on the Boylston blog and also Soapstone's. One of my old superstitions from years ago was to sit facing the same direction if I won, and sit the opposite direction if I lost. Since it's hard to apply after losing two games in a row, I kind of gave up on that ritual. I tend to lose at least two games in a row. However this odd ritual came to mind since I'm #1 in the section and will be seated at the same board as long as I'm in the top score group. I was going to change seats since my back was to the door, and I like seeing who's coming and going. But then I thought it's better to sit where I won then worry about my back facing the door. I sat in the same seat as I did in round one.

I did screw up on move move 16 when I played the wrong rook to d1 and allowed him to trap my knight with a5. I did get two pawns for the piece, and I just kept reminding myself "I'm not a quitter. I'm a winner." Later on I got a third pawn for the piece.

At one point I had left the playing room to use the bathroom. I didn't want to see anyone associated with my team. I had not told anyone that I was paired against the other coach. I didn't want to have to say that I was losing to him either. When I saw the parent coordinator in the lobby I'm thinking to myself. "Oh crap, I don't want to talk to her. Maybe I should just go back in the room before she sees me." She saw me and asked me how I did. I tersely said "I'm still playing" and made my beeline to the ladies room.

Here's the game with no notes:

When I came back into the team room I told the mom who I had tried to avoid that I won, and got revenge for Houston. She had sensed from my body language and words during our lobby encounter that something more was going on the a simple game of chess. Now I'm 2-0 and the team is pulling for me.

In round three I play the same guy from my chess club that I played up here in December. What were the odds of that happening again? I guess one good thing about playing somebody you know well is understanding how they click. Poor Guy has had a rough spell lately. As his son's rating has shot over 1700 he's gone down below 1600. I was happy to see him at 2-0, but I wasn't happy that I had to play him. On the one hand I didn't want to see his good run come to an end, but on the other hand I didn't want to see his good run continue at my expense.

Here's the final position. It was a pretty ending.

Now I'm 3-0. People kept coming up to me and asking me if I'm going to win the tournament. I really didn't want to talk about it. I felt like I was going to jinx myself if I said anything. I kept telling people I was taking it one game at a time. I didn't sleep well Saturday night because I was nervous about Sunday. I kept waking up every couple of hours. It has been a long time since winning has kept me up at night. I've had way too many Thursdays where some butt ugly loss has kept me awake at night.


transformation said...

when it ALL comes together. happy for you.

enjoy, and of course as beings, we are unlimited and fear is less of losing but far more of success. its true.

most are terrably affraid of success. because then more will be required. again: congratulations. warmly, dk

Anonymous said...

Didnt the other coach's team end up beating your team by several points again? Sounds like the bigger victory was his.

tanc(happyhippo) said...


Congrats on your wins so far.

You're starting to psyche yourself out for no apparent reason.

Remember, winning or losing does not break you so don't fret about the what-ifs. And it is you yourself who will make or break the game, not Lady Luck. Wearing 100 rabbit's foots or horseshoes around your neck ain't gonna help you (albeit it might frighten your opponent into submission). *grin*

Concentrate and treat each game as its own and say to yourself that this next game will be the best game you're ever going to play in your whole life.

Go in with the right attitude so that when you do lose, you will look back and say,"I've done everything to the best of my ability and I have no regrets."

Follow Topalov's example. Even if you do lose one day, you still get your pieces back the next day and start again.

cheers and best of wishes for the rest of your games.

Polly said...

Anon: Yes they beat us again. My hat's off to them. Hard to compete with a team who had 8 players in the division, and their top 4 players all scored 5-1. The amazing thing was they split up their team and put some of the higher rated 8th and 9th graders in the HS division to take a crack at Edward Murrow.

Our top player did win the individual championship 6-0, but our remaining players scored 4-2, 4-2 and 3-3.

You might say I won the battle, but he won the war. :-)

I'm proud of our kids. We have a small program and it's come a long way since our first nationals in Denver. Chess is one "sport" where large public schools and small private schools compete on the same playing field. It's not like football where the bigger schools are in one division and little private and parochial schools are in another one.

Our chess team has more trophies then the football team. :-)

Polly said...

Tanc: Allowing my mind to get the best of me has been one of my struggles in chess. The thought process that I went through in round 1 is typical when I can't look at the entire position objectively.

In that game it was thinking back on games where the kingside attack via the h file has been successful. My first thought was "I got crushed the last time my opponent got the rook and queen on the h file." Until I was able to hit the "delete key" and erase that replay from my mind I couldn't see the possibilities for me in the position.