Among my vices at the chess board is that I play in a lot of tournaments, regardless of whether I am at optimal playing strength. I enjoy the game tremendously, which is excellent, but improvement requires actually being competitive in the games you play! It does not involve hanging your queen on move four against the otherwise-harmless Trompowsky Opening. This occurred only after I allowed a mate on the back rank in the preceding game! I did the unthinkable, losing two games in a combined total of five moves. That’s hard to do, even for a beginner!
Now, what I’m about to do is what any profoundly talented chess player does (at least I still have my vanity!) – offer a litany of excuses for my poor play. I stayed up quite late last evening working on some projects for clients, and my results tonight were exactly what I ought to have expected. I played too quickly, allowed the adrenaline of a very close game carry over into the next, and did not take time to analyze positions in the fashion they deserved. I have basically used every justification except “the dog ate my pawns.”
So, the question I’m going to pose to you today is whether or not discretion is ever the better part of valor. Should you forgo the pleasure of playing in order to step back and look at the quality of your chess from afar? It’s all about the process of clarifying what you want out of the game. I hate to lose, but yet the mindfulness that allows a player to win is conspicuously absent from my chess these days. There is some dissonance here.
Only after seeing my own question in print did I resolve to actually take the advice I’m trying to give to hang up the pieces for a few weeks. I’ll still be giving you your daily fix of chess blogging, but the next time I play I’m going to be ready. They won’t have old Chris to kick around anymore!