Friday, November 12, 2010

Get Over It!

What does one say? "Do as I say, not as I do."  How often have I told a student after a tough loss "Forget about that game.  Think about your next game"?  How often have I not been able to follow my own advice?  Probably more times then I've admitted to in various posts to this blog.  Usually the dwelling on a bad game just impacts the rest of the games in that particular tournament.  Last year's American Open comes to mind. However sometimes a game like the one in my last post can come back to haunt one several tournaments later.

I had lost that game on a Thursday and the following Monday I ended out playing because there was an odd number.  There was nothing spectacularly great or awful about the tournament.  I got paired against a 2000 in the first round and lost.  In the second round I got paired against Silvio for what seems like the gazillianth time, but was actually only the 110th time.  I beat him for the 61st time.  In round three I got paired against one of my former students who is little higher rated then me, and I lost.  No big deal. I've lost to him before.  I got outplayed and also had clock issues.

Two days later I played at the Westchester Chess Club in a one game a week slow tournament.  The time limit was Game/80 so time pressure implosions should not have been an issue.  In fact what occurred had nothing to do with the clock except perhaps I should have used more of it.  We reached the following position after 32...Kc4.

I was delighted with my position.  I felt it was easily won ending, especially after he allowed me to trade off the last bishop pair.  Fritz gives the position - + (-9.22) for Black.  I had made the move 32...Kc4 rather quickly because I was so relived that he had not played 32. Kd3 before I could get my king in. I was a little concerned about his queen side majority so I wanted my king close to the action over there.  I've lost too many "won" games by allowing the opponent to convert on the queen side, including the round 4 train wreck at LAX.

After I played the move he played 33. b5.  In my brief analysis leading up to my Kc4 move I determined 33. b5 was no big deal because after 33...axb5 34. axb5 I just play Kxb5.  Then I realized to my horror that he isn't going to play 34. axb5.  he's going to play 34. a5!  It was at this point I just totally lost my internal cool, and had a serious analytical and emotional meltdown.  I didn't think I could get my king back in time to stop his pawn.  Instead of taking a deep breath, looking at the position and do a little counting I went on one of those emotional beat downs.  I got really angry with myself and started thinking "Here you go again.  You have a totally won position.  You get overconfident and play too fast.  This is a friggin' repeat of last Thursday! How can you keep doing this to yourself, especially against these players you're supposed to beat?"

 With all of that going through my mind and trust me friggin is the PG13 version of what really was going through my mind it's hard to find this simple solution.  34... Kc5 35. Kd3 e4+ 36. Kc2 b4 37. a6 Kb6. Instead the game continued 32... Kc4 33. b5 axb5 34. a5 b4 35. a6 b3 36. Kd2 e4 37. a7 to reach the position below.

I still have drawing resources and potentially winning chances if White misplays it. 37... e3+ 38. Kxe3 is forced otherwise after 38. Kc1 I can play 38...e2 39. Kd2 b2 40. a8/Q e1/Q+ 41. Kxe1 b1/Q+b2. If he plays 38. Kxe3 the line would go 38...b2 39. a8=Q b1=Q 40. Qc6+ Kb3

 However because I was still kicking myself over my alleged mistake of Kc4 I didn't see those moves.  Instead I resigned myself to his queening his a pawn and me trying shove the b or e pawn through to get my own queen.  Needless to say it did not work.  Here is the game from move 32 onward.


Since this particular game I have managed to get over the meltdown. I analysed the position and realized I had not thrown it away at the moment that I thought I had.  I threw it away when I lost control of what was going through my mind at the time.  I've been making a conscious effort to keep my thoughts on what's really happening on the board.  It's meant slowing down which at times causes clock issues, especially when playing "cracktion."  I've had some up and down results.  Unfortunately mostly down.  One Monday night I scored 2.5 out of 3 and picked 47 rating points. The following Monday I went 0-3 and lost 35 rating points.  Two out of my three opponents were the same both weeks. I lost another 4 games last night in the Thursday "cracktion" event.  Right now I'm on a 7 game losing streak, but I'm not overly concerned at this point.  I've gotten the emotions back under control, but I know I need to do work on my openings.  Some of my recent games I've just not done well out of the opening.  I almost feel like I don't remember how to play my openings.

However the chess stuff can wait.  In 8 days I will be finally doing my Black Belt test.  I've been very focused in sharping my technique.  It's taken me over a year since my last color belt promotion to reach this point.  It's been a lot of reviewing of things I learned at the lower belts.  It's also been refreshing my memory on things I forgot.  At times it's been frustrating as I've done the same things over and over again, and have not learned new forms.  However the benefit of spending so much time on the old stuff is I know it really well now, and I've sharpened my technique.  When this is done I will analyze how and what I did leading up to this test and see how I can apply to refreshing my chess memory.


sixko said...

Next time you find yourself struggling to let go a loss, maybe try doing one of those newfangled video book reviews?

Likely not have trouble letting go of anything after that and probably you'd break BDK's record to boot!

LinuxGuy said...

When I first look at this diagram, I am thinking Black wins b5, axb, but then I am thinking this must be another "train wreck" diagram, so there must be a tactic, oh yeah axb, a4 will queen first.

When you played f4, you were thinking "strategy", and when you were up two pawns playing axb, you were thinking "strategy". a4 is a tactic, and e3 is also a tactic. You may just as well have been missing a family-fork or an absolute pin in those positions.

What player doesn't miss tactics from time to time? This is why very recently my focus has been on studying tactics more. In my last loss, I simply missed an obvious tactic, and all that great strategy which should have given me an edge, was thrown out the window.

LinuxGuy said...

I know someone that I play regularly, 1800 level, that I feel has a "tactics-first" policy. In fact, quite a few Class A players may be like this that I have played.

Strategy-wise, it can be relatively easy for me to win against them at times. It's probably fair to say that you are more like me with a "strategy-first" policy.

Well, at the end of that game, that person got their tactics in, so it goes to show that strategy alone doesn't fully determine an outcome, IMHO. Even in strategic wins, there is usually a tactic that can be played at the end.

LinuxGuy said...

I meant a5, not a4 - typo.

But once the a5 tactic is spotted, Kc5 is an easy blitz move to find.

Polly said...

Linux: You are absolutely right about the tactical elements of the positions. It's easy in an ending to forget that there will be tactical elements, especially deflection tactics.

Anonymous said...

Great post, cutting through to something dear to my heart. It's so easy to say "just do it," so easy to say "Learn from your failures," so easy to say "Nothing is wasted, everything is a data point." But it's so blasted hard to feel it in your guts, to shake it off and get on with renewed confidence.

Creative types know this: it's often summed up as "You have to make 100 terrible pictures (or write 100 terrible short stories) before you're ready to make a good one."

It's easy to forget, though, because the progress isn't linear/stepwise; your play in your 99th game might not be appreciably better than in your 98th, and it's very hard to maintain the perspective to see the gradual upward arc.
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