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Finding the Resiliency to Go On Despite the Outcome

As if there were not enough things going on in life to worry about, I have hit a slump. These things appear to come and go just like the seasons but that does nothing to lessen the sting. In my case, March has been a very busy chess month with playing in my first-ever OTB tournament and simul event. Each of those events have resulted in goose eggs, which was to be expected. However, it is the growing struggle online that has started to ruffle my feathers a bit.

Chess.com Player Statistics on March 01. (Credit: Campfire Chess)


At the beginning of March I was resting somewhat comfortably with an 1103 online ELO with some spikes higher in the 1150-1190 range, but unfortunately never managed to break my goal of 1200. In the past two weeks I have watched as my game as gone from OK to horrific as both my ELO has taken a sharp decline from holding around 1100-1150 to an abysmal low of 1020 the other night before resting currently at 1082.

Chess.com Player Statistics on March 17. (Credit: Campfire Chess)


100 ELO points might not seem like much, but for someone who spends an inordinate amount of time studying, playing, and writing about chess…it is a big deal. Looking back, it is ironic that this month’s edition of Chess Life Magazine features an exceptional story of what its like to work incredibly hard at chess and only see minor to moderate (if you are lucky) returns. My guess is that if chess were some form of stock market investing that it would not last long. And no, that is not me on the cover of this month’s Chess Life, but it certainly could be. At least, it represents exactly how I feel at the moment.

As with all things, numbers only tell part of the story. It is easy to write about the frustrations of chess using ELO numbers, but what about the quality of the games themselves? Perhaps no other element of my current situation frustrates me more than this one, because my games lately have all been worthy of the losses I received. Simply put? I have seriously sucked at chess lately. For example, this game represents the worst of the worst:

If there had been a resign from chess button on the screen at the time I might have clicked it. The only excuse for playing a game like this is complacency and outright laziness on my part, but I felt like I was giving it everything that I had. So, what happened?

Honestly, I have no idea…

I am at a loss for words on what has happened recently. Basic principles of opening theory and tactics have seemingly gone out the window. Stamp this game under the category WTF:

What to do about it?

Part of this post is simply to have an outlet to vent. Rarely do family members of chess players understand the depths of passion and frustration that come with playing our game, so it is nearly impossible to find that kind of support in a time like this. In the past I have found solace in playing tactics trainers or reading books, but lately that feels just as frustrating as some of the games I have played recently. Then, there is the thought of a haitus from playing for a short time, but will that really help?

In searching the Campfire Chess archives I found several posts like this in the past at different times when I faced a losing streak:

  • Beat the Losing Streak – link
  • Reflections on Losing – link
  • The Decline Continues… – link
  • Coping with the Downfall – link

There are some wise words and stark reminders in those posts, but sometimes its hard to take our own advice. Perhaps it is time to simply re-focus and re-prioritize what I am studying about chess and how I play the game. If a haitus occurs, it will not be for long because, lets just be honest, the board is addicting…

What things have you done to beat a losing streak?