Friday, February 29, 2008

Navel Gazing

Sigh. Not that 99% of what I have written here isn't already navel-gazing tripe, but I'm feeling especially introspective today. What do I really want from chess?

From minimum to maximum my chess goals might be:
-To have fun playing chess
-To get a plus score in an expert section tournament
-To win the club championship
-To win the state championship
-To win a trophy in the expert section in one of the two large Reno tournaments
-To push my USCF rating to 2200 and start calling myself a national master
-To achieve a FIDE rating of 2200 so that I could call myself a FIDE master

But today, I feel like a mess. When I look at my blunderprone, inaccurate game, I can hardly believe I'm an expert. I don't study openings or middle games. I dabble in some obscure, useless endings. I can hardly bring myself to play internet blitz or train at the internet tactics servers. I have no energy for chess today. My laziness overwhelms my ambition. I know it's probably a cyclical thing, that all I need do is wait for my biorhythms to go back on the upswing, but bad funks have a way of magnifying themselves so that they seem insurmountable.

On a day like this, I have a hard time picturing myself rolling out of bed in a motel, getting up to do battle in the halls of a chess tournament. My chess travels have usually led to scores below .500. This often brings me to question if it's even worth it to travel and expend money on distant tournaments. So what? Some people who are significantly older than me seem to have unbounded energy and enthusiasm.

Maybe I'll just have fun playing chess. Does that sound like a sour grapes approach to my other lofty chess goals?


Polly said...

Blame it on being the 29th day of February. Once every four years we have brain meltdown on that day for what ever reason. :-)

My goals aren't so lofty as yours. There are days where I think perhaps I should set a goal of getting back to near my peak rating of 1945. Other days I think maybe just simply getting off my floor of 1700 for a few months in a row would be good.

The first goal would take major work that right now I don't feel like doing. The second gaol just may be a matter of picking and choosing my tournaments more selectly and staying away from so much "cracktion" chess.

But when all else fails I remind myself that when I travel to a tournament it's time spent with others who share a similiar passion for a difficult game. I see old friends and meet new ones.

So to answer the question; "Is it worth the time and expense to travel to tournaments?" YES

drunknknite said...

I agree with Polly about the gathering of players, this is what I love most about tournaments.

Also I must note that FM is 2300 FIDE not 2200.

I don't think having fun in chess and lofty goals are mutually exclusive, I think that sometimes it's easy to lose focus and drive for chess because it seems like such a waste of time. But with a consistent effort in all three phases of the game there is inevitable progress, and that progress is probably much more fulfilling than having fun playing chess. I know it is to me.

Soapstone said...

Polly - I guess I've always been a wallflower. If socializing were rated, I'd be about a 400. I understand the value of the social aspect of the game, but beyond a cordial and enlightening postmortem, I always go my separate way. So you're saying if I could only make some chess friends it might seem worth it. Perhaps, Polly, you could be my life coach? Just kidding.

drunknknite - You're right, the FM title at FIDE 2300 is even further away than I thought. Agreed that having fun in stagnation is less fulfilling than toiling and watching your rating creep upward. Perhaps the fear of inevitable stagnation and age-related decline is telling me not to get my hopes up for improvement.

chessloser said...

it's not sour grapes at all. if you concentrate on having fun, you will be more relaxed and do better than if you stress out so much you go chessblind. at least, that is what i'm hoping for. and in the end, if all other goals fail, you can at least look back on it all and say "damn, at least i had fun."

as for the chess laziness, maybe you overtrained? maybe you are just on your chess period. it'll pass...

Wahrheit said...

Fun is overrated! You muft SVEAT, you muft BLEED!

Yeah right. Personally, I now think the real fun of chess is concentrating during the game on some clean and objective psycho-combat. The rest of the messy, subjective world disappers for a few hours. Nobody tries to appeal to emotion and irrational feelings. Studying is fine, but the play is the thing.