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Reflections on Losing

I normally reserve these kind of summary posts for the My Chess Week posts, but this streak almost demands some attention. For my own sanity, my wife placed me on a half-week online chess hiatus after I took an incredible beating on Tuesday as I went 4-15 in 5|0 blitz on Chess.com. When I first started playing chess online, it was common for me to take a repeated beating at the hands of stronger players, but Tuesday’s massacre involved players that were consistently 100-200 ELO points below me! What began as a quick game of blitz turned into a desperate obsession to win at least two games in a row, which never came to fruition. As I played more and more games, my mind became fuzzy and I found myself starting new games with a conscious understanding that the guy who was -200 ELO from my rating was going to wipe me off the board.

This is a perfect example of the insane stuff I was playing by the time I reached game 12:

Some time has passed since my last game and I have started to come down from my obsession and to think critically about the errors in my play. As I have poured over the nineteen mediocre games added to my Chessbase database, I have been shocked at the differential in these games over my previous efforts. However, that shock has given me an opportunity to examine my play in a different light. At the height of my frustration, I did a Google search for chess losing streaks and found multiple entries on different chess websites where players have cried out for help with losing streaks that have devastated their online ELOs.

In this instance, I am learning that it is important to take a step back and to remember that chess is a game that contains many variables. Theory is vital, but so is concentration and psychological health. I discovered over the last few days that much of my play was affected by distractions at work and at home. Those distractions caused me to be impulsive with my moves and to second guess my play. This impulsivity combined with self-doubt and a side-helping of anxiety were key contributors to the abysmal 15 game streak. Psychological health is a critical element of a successful chess game. Without focus and concentration, who knows where the pieces may go! After some heartfelt reflection on the 15 losses forever immortalized in my Chess.com account and my Chessbase archives, all that I can really do now is hopefully sit back, work some tactics puzzles, and return to my physical and psychological center before returning to the battlefield.