Friday, September 21, 2012

Not Chess Burnout, But Definitely a Slump

I am in one right now. I felt at first it was burnout, but that is a much more serious condition, and I don’t have those symptoms.

I am no where near the place where I don’t want to play anymore. I certainly want to play. I just don’t “have it” right now. Virtually every chess player goes through this phase from time to time. I’ve had it before….and I have it now….and I will have it again.
The chessboard has not changed dimensions, but mentally, right now it seems to me to be about the size of Texas. I can’t see it all no matter how hard I try.

And ideas, tactics and threats are also as easy to find for me as a snowball is … Texas… August.
I am not finding the right move in a serious game, a friendly game, on on-line game, a speed game, in a tactics puzzle or playing over games and covering up the last six moves or so to figure out the winning thread.
Nope – wrong decision again!

There are several ideas on why slumps happen. Race horses go thru this. They will run at peak speed for three to five races in a row and then slump. They still need to be ‘raced’ in order to stay in shape, but they are not pushed to win or the owner will risk injury to the horse.

Baseball, softball, pool, poker players, golfers, bowlers and even fishermen go thru slumps. And with a season like chess has (never ends unless you decide there is an end), slumps are bound to crop up.
So, what are the solutions to a chess slump? Well, the best solution is to ….not play for a short little while and re-evaluate the situation you are in. Take stock in everything.

How is your overall health?
Are you getting enough rest?
Are you eating properly?
Are there outside pressures unrelated to chess that are sapping your mental or physical strength or concentration?
Are you in a rut (playing rote) and doing mostly the same stuff but expecting different results?
Are you having fun or really want to play, or are you just going thru the motions?
Are you playing lazy…expecting moves to appear, opponents to blunder or expecting opponents to be blind to your tactics and you never consider …what if they see it?

As you see, we are moving out of simple slump territory and into “I’m no longer working hard enough territory.

If you are in a slump of any kind, take a time out and think about where you are at mentally, physically and personally. Many times there is a reason you are not performing well, rather than it being an actual slump.
As for me? A quick and easy review of my situation showed that I an not getting enough rest, I have some work pressures right now, and I am playing lazy. 

All but one are easy to fix...starting now. 
Good night!

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