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Zwischenzug
20-02-2007, 08:57 AM
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?

Phil Bourke
20-02-2007, 11:37 AM
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.

Denis_Jessop
20-02-2007, 03:03 PM
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

eclectic
20-02-2007, 03:28 PM
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 ... :cool:

Basil
20-02-2007, 04:14 PM
... 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?

Watto
20-02-2007, 04:27 PM
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…

Zwischenzug
20-02-2007, 04:45 PM
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.

Kevin Bonham
20-02-2007, 05:49 PM
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.

Spiny Norman
20-02-2007, 06:45 PM
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.

Denis_Jessop
20-02-2007, 07:53 PM
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

Basil
20-02-2007, 08:43 PM
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?

Axiom
20-02-2007, 10:49 PM
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.

Kevin Bonham
20-02-2007, 11:03 PM
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.

eclectic
20-02-2007, 11:20 PM
Is the amount of perceived enjoyment that will be derived from a chess event a factor in deciding the winner of an event bid?

Kevin Bonham
20-02-2007, 11:24 PM
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?

eclectic
20-02-2007, 11:35 PM
Did you mean to post that on some other thread?

Refer Axiom post # 12 :cool:

Garvinator
20-02-2007, 11:35 PM
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...
you can add to this, other people taking an interest in your games, especially high rated players.

Basil
20-02-2007, 11:40 PM
... really try to have fun, ...and this starts a cycle - the more you enjoy it the better the moves ...i see too many players overcook their whole approach ...and if things go bad, constantly embrace the new ... and if you lose, so what?...enjoy, the learning process.


Agree with that. At the same time it is possible to lose by not taking games seriously enough.

Yes. The balance between Ax & KB has much for me. My chess knowledge now is considerably more than it was when I started playing competitively a few years ago, although my rating hasn't changed much.* I believe many of my moves these are constrained by ideologue. My earlier games were very much like *ahem* The Possum in style if not in execution. I had some good wins in those days (against John Alkin (see The Pits) and was dead won against Jacob Edwards trapping his queen for minimal compensation to him - swindled in the endgame). I wasn't nervous in the slightest back then! Ignorance coupled with nothing to lose was truly bliss!

Now Zen Master - The Balance ...

* A significant event did take me away from the game for 18 months.

Watto
21-02-2007, 10:32 AM
you can add to this, other people taking an interest in your games, especially high rated players.
Ah, yes, I forgot about that. A lot of the stress when you’re new is to do with spectators.

Strong players watching my games don't worry me too much- they can see my rating, kind of speaks for itself.

I remember once being amused though and a bit put off by a hilarious group of little kids supporting my opponent throughout the game- thumbs upping and happy looks in his direction… to give you an idea of the general mood, you could almost hear the excited chants of Kill the pig! ;) lol

Desmond
21-02-2007, 11:57 AM
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.)I think it's the opposite. As the game wears on and you (the underdog) begin to realise that you have a superior position the pressure mounts. Suddenly you do have something to lose. Not only this, but other thoughts start to creep in. "This might be the best chance I ever get to beat a GM." "If I win this, I be in the lead in the tournament." And all the while, the crowd is growing. The GM is used to crowds watching his game. You are not. In fact, you have probably been in the crowd many times watching the GM in a worse position against someone around your own rating. You remember that the GM almost always wins anyway. You start to wonder how long it will be before you blunder.

Brian_Jones
21-02-2007, 12:52 PM
That just leaves me and Brian. Anyone else?

There are a great many grumpy chess players - but it is nothing to do with nerves - just an obsession with 64 squares.

Basil
21-02-2007, 01:04 PM
What they both said as well ^^

ER
21-02-2007, 06:12 PM
Does anyone feel like giggling while playing chess? I just can't keep a straight face, particularly when I watch other players' mannerisms while they play. They look so fummy! That forces me to go outside to LMAO!
Cheers and good luck!

Kevin Bonham
21-02-2007, 08:11 PM
I think it's the opposite. As the game wears on and you (the underdog) begin to realise that you have a superior position the pressure mounts.

If it's clearly superior enough to have the big bastard very worried but not so superior that you're secretly sure you will win it, there's a good way to shift that pressure to the opponent:

Offer a draw.

(Of course this doesn't work when your position is only slightly better and the stronger opponent can at least draw it in his sleep, or when a draw is obviously out of the question for the opponent because of the tournament standings.)

Denis_Jessop
21-02-2007, 08:38 PM
As I mentioned the other day I am reading Sarah Hurst's Curse of Kirsan and one bit of it fits this thread rather well,namely her account of the Kilkenny Chess Club in Ireland. There you not only have to bring your own set and clock but much of the emphasis is on the Guinness after the game as much as the game itself. Yet it's not only a good club but apparently runs a very successful tournament each year with about 200 players. Now that's my kind of club.

DJ

WhiteElephant
21-02-2007, 11:12 PM
Does anyone feel like giggling while playing chess? I just can't keep a straight face, particularly when I watch other players' mannerisms while they play. They look so fummy! That forces me to go outside to LMAO!
Cheers and good luck!

I am tempted to mention a few players in particular but nahhhhh....

MichaelBaron
21-02-2007, 11:53 PM
Does anyone feel like giggling while playing chess? I just can't keep a straight face, particularly when I watch other players' mannerisms while they play. They look so fummy! That forces me to go outside to LMAO!
Cheers and good luck!

Some player's faces when they are thinking over important moves makes them look like they are sitting on a toilet seat and trying hard to.....

Hey chess is just a game after all :)

ER
22-02-2007, 12:10 AM
Some player's faces when they are thinking over important moves makes them look like they are sitting on a toilet seat and trying hard to.....

Hey chess is just a game after all :)

LOL,

Some examples
Player A) Obvious symptoms of suffering, face distorted, heavy breathing, eyes tired and bloodshot, shivering, moaning, groaning.:doh:
PLAYER B) Obvious symptoms of psychological suffering. Shaking of head, fear in their eyes. Facial expression varying from sad to indignant.:rolleyes:
PLAYER C) Suspicious glances around them and at their opponent as in trying to catch which part of the board they 're looking at.:uhoh:
PLAYER D) Grandiose stance and absolute composure. Making their moves in an artistic way as though they are painting a masterpiece. Silently approving or disapproving of their opponents' moves with characteristic :cool: grimaces.
I have some more examples, but wait for next time! :)
Cheers and good luck to all!

Ian Rout
22-02-2007, 08:34 AM
If it's clearly superior enough to have the big bastard very worried but not so superior that you're secretly sure you will win it, there's a good way to shift that pressure to the opponent:

Offer a draw.

(Of course this doesn't work when your position is only slightly better and the stronger opponent can at least draw it in his sleep, or when a draw is obviously out of the question for the opponent because of the tournament standings.)
I'm not sure about that one. I've seen a large number of blunders (in my games and others) made around the time of a draw offer, either just before (over-anxiety about not doing anything to lose the advantage before offering, so being over-cautious or over-forcing) or just after (let-down after mentally reporting the half-point and heading to the bar only to discover that you have to play it out).

In theory you can't lose anything by offering a draw (so long as you're happy with a half-point) but in practice, because of both the above and the drawback of telegraphing that you can't or don't want to win, it may be safer just to play normally and be prepared to accept a desperate draw offer if it comes.

MichaelBaron
22-02-2007, 08:23 PM
May be Meditation can help!

I have been practicing meditation for a while and i think it can be instrumental in improving one's nerves. May be all chess players should try it :)

Kevin Bonham
22-02-2007, 10:32 PM
I'm not sure about that one. I've seen a large number of blunders (in my games and others) made around the time of a draw offer, either just before (over-anxiety about not doing anything to lose the advantage before offering, so being over-cautious or over-forcing) or just after (let-down after mentally reporting the half-point and heading to the bar only to discover that you have to play it out).

Yes. Players can make a lot of mistakes with the psychology of it, like deciding a few moves in advance to offer one soon when the position is actually unstable, or offering draws out of hope because they are desperate to get one or assume one will be granted then going to pieces when it is turned down. But I have noticed that a sufficiently insidious draw offer from the weaker player in a superior position can put all the pressure on the strong player, who can easily go to pieces if they unreasonably refuse the draw.

Denis_Jessop
23-02-2007, 12:21 AM
May be Meditation can help!

I have been practicing meditation for a while and i think it can be instrumental in improving one's nerves. May be all chess players should try it :)

I agree. In about 1974 I was receiving treatment for a problem by way of self hypnosis which is very similar to meditation, the purpose of which was in part to reduce anxiety. The treatment was ineffective for the primary purpose but that year my rating went up about 100 points because I was less anxious and played much better. Unfortunately the benefit was only temporary but the method certainly has potential.

DJ