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  1. #1
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    Nervousness At Tournaments

    Hi. All you tournament chess players probably have experienced this from time to time. Often I find myself more scared of my opponent than I am of their chess and wind up hanging a piece in my games. How do you deal with being nervous at tournaments? Anyone has any methods to calm those overly wild nerves?

  2. #2
    CC FIDE Master Phil Bourke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zwischenzug
    Hi. All you tournament chess players probably have experienced this from time to time. Often I find myself more scared of my opponent than I am of their chess and wind up hanging a piece in my games. How do you deal with being nervous at tournaments? Anyone has any methods to calm those overly wild nerves?
    I am always nervous before the start of the 1st round for whatever reason, just remind myself that I am ready to play, call to mind a few games that have gone my way, and find that once the first few moves are played, the nerves dissipate quietly. I think that you will find this phenomena fairly normal in a lot of areas. Like before speaking publicly, taking an exam, asking for that first date, etc. The best advice is just be as prepared as you can be. Any sporting person will tell you of the need for many visits to the toilet prior to a big game I tell the kids, that if you aren't nervous, then it can't be important to you.
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  3. #3
    CC Grandmaster Denis_Jessop's Avatar
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    I began playing competitive chess in the 1950s and I have suffered from nervousness and stress ever since so time doesn't cure it. When I was younger it didn't bother me so much and was a kind of challenge, especially if the toilet facilities were not good. Now it just bugs me and is one reason why I haven't played much chess in recent years. Incidentally, I never give a damn about my opponent - I more regarded chess as a test of my own ability which may have made things worse.

    DJ
    ...I don't want to go among mad people Alice remarked, "Oh, you can't help that," said the Cat: we're all mad here. I am mad. You're mad." "How do you know I'm mad?" said Alice. "You must be," said the Cat ,"or you wouldn't have come here."

  4. #4
    . eclectic's Avatar
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    I'll see your advice and then raise it ...

    I know we shouldn't really be promoting another pastime here but if there is one thing chess players can learn from it it's the $%^&* face i.e. not giving anything away and bluffing ones way through adversity a skill which if adopted and adapted might help to keep nerves under control ...

  5. #5
    CC Grandmaster Basil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Denis_Jessop
    ... When I was younger it didn't bother me so much ... Now it just bugs me ...
    Reminds me. I think we need an addition to The Team Champs thread.

    Grumpy Old Men.

    I'll be board 8. You, me and Jones can can fight it out for captain. Would Shirty qualify?
    There is no cure for leftism. Its infestation of the host mostly diminishes with age except in the most rabid of specimens.

  6. #6
    CC International Master Watto's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Denis_Jessop
    I began playing competitive chess in the 1950s and I have suffered from nervousness and stress ever since so time doesn't cure it. ...
    quietly hysterical sums up how I felt before my first tournament games- horrible anxiety about the game, the scoring, the clocks, tournament etiquette, looking stupid, having to deal with failure...

    Later I was just very nervous and unable to eat. Aside from the tournament nerves and ego difficulties with being a blundering beginner, I was really interested in chess, and I'm a bit stubborn, so I continued.

    Now I’m just a bit edgy beforehand but nothing much more. I don’t feel nervous during the game. Not sure how long you’ve been playing in tournaments, Zwischenzug, but in my case a little bit of time and experience (just under 2 years) definitely has made a huge difference…
    Last edited by Watto; 20-02-2007 at 04:31 PM.

  7. #7
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    I have an idea, next time I go to a tournament, I'll assume my opponents are nervous also and it would be my job to exploit that . I am planning to go to a tournament this weekend and the last day to register is tomorrow.

    P.S. I've only been to two and a half tournaments.
    Last edited by Zwischenzug; 20-02-2007 at 04:47 PM.

  8. #8
    Monster of the deep Kevin Bonham's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zwischenzug
    Often I find myself more scared of my opponent than I am of their chess and wind up hanging a piece in my games.
    This is only my advice, not necessarily any better or worse than anyone else of around my rating (and probably worse than that of some much better players, although I doubt most superGMs really understand what it is to be a club level player):

    When playing someone with a much higher rating, just ignore who your opponent is and just try to play the best move you can in each position on the board. For instance, make it your aim for the game to check each move carefully for basic tactics and try to cut down on blunders.

    If you're petrified that this opponent is so strong they will beat you no matter what you do, put the final result of the game out of your mind and just focus on trying to play as competitive a game as you can in the early stages. If by doing this you find that you get to a middlegame or endgame position that really isn't that scary-looking then you should start realising you actually have a chance to not lose, and work towards that outcome (don't get too carried away with "hey I'm going to get a draw" or "hey I'm going to win" as it may be you have missed something tricky.)

    Remember that every time you play a higher-rated opponent they have something to lose. This is actually in your favour because if you can get a decent position out of the opening, some of them will panic and do silly things to try to get an edge. Relish the challenge of trying to give a stronger player a scare! (I have noticed that weaker players who really try to sock it to strong opponents and make them suffer often acheive upsets - but this doesn't mean you should go bananas with obviously futile sac-attacks). The good ones will stay calm because they know that even if you are equal in the middlegame, they can probably outplay you in the ending (or that even if you get an edge in wild tactics you will probably make a tactical error later), but not all strong players are sensible.

    Also, work on endings! If you know your endgame play is reasonable then you have so much less to fear, and you don't then have to think "the best that can happen is I get outplayed in the ending".

    How do you deal with being nervous at tournaments? Anyone has any methods to calm those overly wild nerves?
    I used to get really bad buildups of nervous tension in my arms before games during tournaments. I would deal with it by going outside and swinging my arms around in circles or backwards and forwards until all the tension was completely loosened up. Looked ridiculous, but quite effective.

    Avoid caffeine during games unless you desperately need it to stay awake. Many chessplayers drink heaps of it, but it is rather double-edged in its effects on play quality and on the whole more danger than it's worth.
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  9. #9
    CC Grandmaster Spiny Norman's Avatar
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    As a junior (14-18 years of age) I used to get very nervous when playing Interclub matches. I recall at one game at MCC (Elizabeth Street premises?) where I chain-smoked until I made myself physically ill and had to resign my game despite having a good position on the board.

    Nowadays (43) I don't get nervous at all and relish the opportunity to play against higher-rated players. As Kevin points out, they have more to "lose" than me, and I love trying to make them work hard for the point.
    “As you perhaps know, I haven't always been a Christian. I didn't go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don't recommend Christianity.” -- C.S.Lewis

  10. #10
    CC Grandmaster Denis_Jessop's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Howard Duggan
    Reminds me. I think we need an addition to The Team Champs thread.

    Grumpy Old Men.

    I'll be board 8. You, me and Jones can can fight it out for captain. Would Shirty qualify?
    I'm not grumpy - I've just lost my penchant for masochism.

    As for Shirty, I don't think he is either old or grumpy but I am happy for him to decide that.

    DJ
    ...I don't want to go among mad people Alice remarked, "Oh, you can't help that," said the Cat: we're all mad here. I am mad. You're mad." "How do you know I'm mad?" said Alice. "You must be," said the Cat ,"or you wouldn't have come here."

  11. #11
    CC Grandmaster Basil's Avatar
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    No, I must say you didn't strike me as grumpy. And although I only observed Greg while playing, he didn't appear to have a grumpy demeanour either.

    That just leaves me and Brian. Anyone else?
    There is no cure for leftism. Its infestation of the host mostly diminishes with age except in the most rabid of specimens.

  12. #12
    Account Permanently Banned Axiom's Avatar
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    Enjoyment Kills Nerves

    focus on ENJOYING THE GAME, really try to have fun,.....and this starts a cycle - the more you enjoy it the better the moves, the better the moves, the more you enjoy it............i see too many players overcook their whole approach,either by puting too much serious pressure on themselves or burning up in a turmoil of 'hard work'.I know it may seem obvious,even trite advice, but go into the game with the view to really enjoying it, and having fun....and if things go bad,constantly embrace the new everchanging challenges of the position.......and if you lose, so what?, youve had an enjoyable lesson!,.... and again, ..enjoy, the learning process.

  13. #13
    Monster of the deep Kevin Bonham's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Axiom
    i see too many players overcook their whole approach,either by puting too much serious pressure on themselves or burning up in a turmoil of 'hard work'.
    Agree with that. At the same time it is possible to lose by not taking games seriously enough. I like to do a little work on openings either in the leadup to a tournament or as preparation for key games in it.
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  14. #14
    . eclectic's Avatar
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    Is the amount of perceived enjoyment that will be derived from a chess event a factor in deciding the winner of an event bid?

  15. #15
    Monster of the deep Kevin Bonham's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skaro
    Is the amount of perceived enjoyment that will be derived from a chess event a factor in deciding the winner of an event bid?
    Did you mean to post that on some other thread?
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