Chop Wood, Carry Water: Before The Fall

Time to next tournament (Chicago Chess Center Rated Beginners’ Open #21): 4 days.

Man, this has been a rough year.

I haven’t been able to play in many tournaments this summer, owing mostly to my day job (which means I have scant few free weekends). Since Labor Day I’ve been trying to juggle a new job, personal issues, and new chronic health thing.

I won’t say that chess fell to the wayside; indeed, there have been times over the past few months where chess was one of the things that kept me sane. But I haven’t been able to play competitively, which means I haven’t been studying as hard as I would’ve liked, and so my form has taken a real dive.

I signed up for this upcoming RBO for two reasons. One, it’s probably my last chance to play in a tournament before the end of the year, given how my job is. And two, because I needed something to force myself to get back to focused study, and not just fucking around with Lichess correspondence games.

So here we go. Tournament in four days.

  • Today it’s getting back into Nimzowitsch. I’ve also got a couple videos queued up on the Pirc Defense, which I think I want to fold into my repertoire for Black.
  • Tomorrow, Chernev.
  • Thursday, Silman’s endgame book.
  • Friday, drilling on fundamentals and maybe picking up a new trick or two to have in reserve. I have a social thing on Friday evening, which I think will be good for reducing stress and having a good mindset heading into Saturday. I just have to not stay out too late. The key thing for me is going to be getting enough sleep.

Other than that I’m going to just keep drilling tactics puzzles, get at least one “classical” game in on Lichess every night after dinner and my walk, and try to study a few GM games.

On Saturday, I plan on doing some puzzles on the bus ride down to the event site and in-between rounds. But I also want to try and get some short walks in on my breaks. I haven’t really focused on physical activity as part of my training regimen in previous tournaments, but I think some light exercise might help my game a little. (Plus I need to get my steps in anyway.)

Mostly though, I’m going to really try and not sweat the results too much. I think my getting hung up on results and my rating led me to make stupid mistakes. I also generally have issues with OTB games and making moves too fast. So I need to slow down, but also just… not worry about it. (It helps that my USCF rating is pretty low already, so to some extent it probably can’t get much worse.)

So yeah, I think mindset and all the small variables will be the key here. I took a bye for the first round, so I’ll be playing four games on Saturday. I’m aiming for two points from those four.

Here’s hoping third time’s a charm.