Monday, March 17, 2008


Call it what you will: performance anxiety, nerves, stress. Around about one week prior to most major swisses, I begin to regret sending in for the discounted entry. I imagine how much work the competition has been doing and I match up what little I’ve done and shudder.

Sometimes the fear and loathing goad me into action which usually manifests in me looking at my shoddy opening repertoire. A few minutes later I’m contemplating the futility of cramming a month’s worth of preparation into a couple of days and then I give up.

Then the rationalization begins. Since I’m playing in the Open section, losing to a couple of masters plus a couple of experts will be okay, as long as I don’t lose to a bunch of A players or that one C player playing up. I’ll play for dignity, although I’m pretty sure Reno Chess Club’s newest Expert is going to outscore me. I’ll play to have fun. I’ll play to learn something. This will just be a stepping stone for my next big success at the 2008 Western States Open. It’s really “nolo contendere” to try to snow the competitive part of me that will be disappointed when I find myself at the bottom tables again this year.

My classic performance anxiety dream comes from my violin-playing days. I’m usually in my underwear, wandering around a school campus, trying to find my orchestra uniform, but primarily concerned about how I’m going to lead the orchestra and get through my solo having not practiced a single note of our concert songs.

Rarely, I’ve had chess performance anxiety dreams about not being able to read the pairings or not being able to find the right board. Sometimes I arrive and my opponent doesn’t and I spend the next long moments of dream time hoping that my opponent doesn’t show so that I can get an easy forfeit point. Often I myself forfeit games from not adhering to the round schedule. Last night, I had a dream of being paired against an expert I played in the Western States Open and having to run an errand after I made my eighth move as Black. When I came back after an hour, my opponent demonstrated how on the ninth move, he made a killer queen sac that was sound in all variations, so I justly lost.

One more rationalization: if I play badly, perhaps it will serve as a wakeup call for me to get back to a more disciplined chess regime.


ChargingKing said...

Perhaps we have a similar sense of humor cause this blog had me cracking up. But seriously I don't see what you could be worried about. You're playing "up" and even if you have a bad score it isn't so unexpected. In fact, like you mentioned it's a great wake-up check to where you can go as a chess player.

Maybe us lower-rated guys just don't see the reality of the situation...I'm not sure.

transformation said...

i am not an ENFP but clearly an ENFJ. i am adding you to my link list, and will be sure to be back. best regards, and good to see you around. dk