Starting tomorrow I will play seven games over a five day period. First, tomorrow I will have my regular Thursday night game. Then, this weekend, I will play in the WI State Championship for the first time ever.
I’ve decided to use a technique that I have read about many times, which is the concept of focusing on one thing for a tournament and making that the central theme of the event.
My plan is to focus on targets. I know that this is a weakness of mine. I can recall GM Grivas telling me after beating me in a clock simul that the issue was that he had targets whereas I did not.
So each time I sit down at the board I am going to remind myself to look for targets, both for myself and for my opponent, on pretty much every move.
When I find a target for myself I am going to work out how to best isolate and attack it. When I find a target for my opponent I am going to work out how to best defend it.
The idea with this singular focus tournament is that if you get to the point where you have begun to engage in whatever behavior you are looking to, then you are one step closer to becoming a stronger player.
I’ve been too focused on rating. I need to let go of the rating aspect of things and just focus on my playing strength. If I work on my strength then the rating will come. I just have to trust in my abilities and have some faith in myself.
The truth is that my training has been going well lately. I have been getting in some solid study time every day, and that should hopefully start paying off at some point.
So now I’m going to start working on my issues one by one. Tournament by tournament.
I expect this approach to pay dividends in the very near term.
The Sinquefield Cup kicked off today, and there were three winners right out of the gate with Aronian defeating Nepomniatchtchi, Karjakin taking advantage of a Svidler implosion, and the game I’m talking about here, which saw Wesley lose to MVL.
The game was the 6.a4 Italian, which seems to be surging in popularity these days.
In fact, at the Olympiad in 2016 Wesley won a very nice game in this same opening against Nepo. That game went like this:
Perhaps fearing Maxime’s prep, Wesley chose to play 8…h6 instead of 8…Ba7.
Then, on his 40th move Wesley missed 40…Kf6 and instead put his king on d8 which saw the Frenchman quickly bring home the full point.
Hopefully the number of wins in this round sets the tone for the rest of the event.
For the past week I have been afflicted with a fairly serious ear infection. The most annoying part of this illness is that it makes it difficult to properly study chess.
I have still been doing tactical drills for 30-40 minutes daily, along with playing through a bunch of GM games in lines I plan on playing in the coming week based on upcoming club games, but that’s about it.
No actual work. No solving. No analyzing my own games deeply. Nothing.
It’s hard to do real work when your head feels like a balloon. This makes it tough to focus in any meaningful way. Luckily I’m now on day three of a ten day course of medication to cure the problem, but it may be another few days before I am close to 100% again.
There is also a bad news/good news aspect to this. The bad news is that with really aggressive goals of finishing one Yusupov book per month for the next two months this puts me far behind the timeline of where I need to be.
The good news though, and this is the part that I am choosing to focus on currently, is that I have not used this illness as an excuse to stop working completely.
While it seems likely that my tactical drills are having limited impact since my ability to learn new patterns is probably affected by my inability to focus clearly, I am certain that I am at the very least staying sharp with the patterns I already know.
In the “old days” (i.e. prior to the Quality Chess Challenge) I would have used illness as a reason to just take a complete break.
Instead I have stayed active to the best of my ability.
Here’s hoping that I recover soon and can get back to real work, but until then I’ll just keep plodding along.