Recovering from a bad run of form

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ThomasThorpe
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Recovering from a bad run of form

Post by ThomasThorpe » Mon Oct 24, 2011 1:11 pm

Hi all

After having a very successful start to the season (being unbeaten in 15 games, winning 11 of them) I've suddenly hit a real rough patch in my chess. My ECF is 150, but my playing strength is around 165ish, yet recently I've just been playing bad chess with the wrong plans, and I continue to lose match after match, both in longplay and rapidplay.

What would you say is the best way to recover from this run of form? It's been about 3-4 weeks since I last played a decent game of chess.

I look forward to reading your suggestions

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Paolo Casaschi
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Re: Recovering from a bad run of form

Post by Paolo Casaschi » Mon Oct 24, 2011 1:16 pm

ThomasThorpe wrote:Hi all

After having a very successful start to the season (being unbeaten in 15 games, winning 11 of them) I've suddenly hit a real rough patch in my chess. My ECF is 150, but my playing strength is around 165ish, yet recently I've just been playing bad chess with the wrong plans, and I continue to lose match after match, both in longplay and rapidplay.

What would you say is the best way to recover from this run of form? It's been about 3-4 weeks since I last played a decent game of chess.

I look forward to reading your suggestions
Forget about the rating and make a point of not knowing your opponent rating during the game.
Stop playing your favourite openings and broaden your repertoire.

andrew martin

Re: Recovering from a bad run of form

Post by andrew martin » Mon Oct 24, 2011 1:24 pm

Stop play entirely ( over the board/internet/correspondance) until you don't feel demoralized. Study hard behind the scenes. Eat/sleep well, work on fitness. Stabilize the situation, concentrating on not making things worse.

Your enthusiasm and form will soon return if you have the discipline to stick to this advice.

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Christopher Kreuzer
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Re: Recovering from a bad run of form

Post by Christopher Kreuzer » Mon Oct 24, 2011 2:00 pm

One thing I find helps is analysing games where you played well, or just missed a winning idea or two. That can get you back in the right frame of mind. The worst thing to do is (as others have said) obsess over rating or to sit down at the board worried about how you are going to survive the opening. I find it also helps to return to basics and play confidently and following basic principles, and trust in those rather than get sidetracked down dead ends over the board.

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David Shepherd
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Re: Recovering from a bad run of form

Post by David Shepherd » Mon Oct 24, 2011 2:08 pm

I think try and work out why you lost - maybe it is because you are improving. For example you could just be learning new things - have more to think about and once that sinks in back to normal results. Also you could be tired, unwell etc. I just lost loads of games also but worked out I was just forgetting the basics - always look at captures for example. Yes having a break is good advice, but also look to see if there was a common factor in the mistakes - tiredness, shortage of time, not considering opponents plans, not considering captures, ignoring pawn structures etc.

Jonathan Bryant
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Re: Recovering from a bad run of form

Post by Jonathan Bryant » Tue Oct 25, 2011 9:20 am

ThomasThorpe wrote:It's been about 3-4 weeks since I last played a decent game of chess.
4 weeks?? I once went 4 months without winning a game of chess. Twenty of them one after another. Not one solitary victory.

Relax. Things will pick up.

Niall Doran
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Re: Recovering from a bad run of form

Post by Niall Doran » Tue Oct 25, 2011 10:04 am

Jonathan Bryant wrote:
ThomasThorpe wrote:It's been about 3-4 weeks since I last played a decent game of chess.
4 weeks?? I once went 4 months without winning a game of chess. Twenty of them one after another. Not one solitary victory.

Relax. Things will pick up.
Twenty? Were you 'playing up' a couple of levels?

I wish I hadn't read this thread though, I've just looked up my results for the last year and realised I'm on a 15-game unbeaten run in Fide-rated time limit games. This comes probably from not playing in open tournaments (not intentionally of course). Hopefully I won't think too much about it at the Gatwick Major this week, where it's unlikely to survive! :D The interesting thing though is that in some of these games, I had bad positions and still managed to make something out of them. I seem to remember someone saying once that a sign of a good football team was that they managed to play well even when they're playing badly. Some days, nothing seems to go right, but you have to keep plugging away and grind out a result.

One piece of advice I can give to Thomas, which is very difficult to apply, is to just play the game and not worry about the result. What this means is, don't play defensively, don't swap pieces just for the sake of reducing risk, and don't assume that your opponent's plan is better than yours and give in to it. Could you put a couple of the games up, maybe the forumites could give you a few pointers? Yes, it can be painful, but also productive. The most interesting games to put up won't be the ones with one-move blunders (although these too can be revealing), but the ones where you don't really understand where you went wrong.

Jonathan Bryant
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Re: Recovering from a bad run of form

Post by Jonathan Bryant » Tue Oct 25, 2011 10:47 am

Niall Doran wrote:
Jonathan Bryant wrote:
ThomasThorpe wrote:It's been about 3-4 weeks since I last played a decent game of chess.
4 weeks?? I once went 4 months without winning a game of chess. Twenty of them one after another. Not one solitary victory.

Relax. Things will pick up.
Twenty? Were you 'playing up' a couple of levels?
I'm afraid not. I've played two e2-e4 opens recently (sadly can't be at Gatwick this week) and only won one game in ten. That's understandable given they were really tough tournaments.

My twenty game non-winning run was just normal club games, though. I just got into a rut and couldn't win whatever I did.

Of course, it became a self-perpetuating cycle. I sat down not believing that I would win and then I didn't. As you say - got to keep enjoying it and keep believing in yourself. Things turn around eventually.

Alan Walton
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Re: Recovering from a bad run of form

Post by Alan Walton » Tue Oct 25, 2011 11:03 am

Sometimes just finding a QPlay tournament to play in where you aren't bothered about losing that much could help, a couple of wins in this could easily get you confidence back

Stewart Reuben
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Re: Recovering from a bad run of form

Post by Stewart Reuben » Tue Oct 25, 2011 11:17 am

David Lloyd once lost to Raaphy Persitz. When asked where he went wrong, he replied, 'I chose the wrong opponent'.

John Nunn when just an IM once consulted me that he was continually messing up his last round games and losing. I recommended that he take a couple of draws in this situation , getting a lower prize, but restoring his confidence. I don't know whether he took that advice, but the following 12 months he won 10 tournaments, including weekend Swisses.

A moderate amount of arrogance is desirable in all sports (including my speciality, poker).
But Thomas, do you have a trainer, coach or whatever of that nature? They are very useful for that type of development. Don't get despondent. Perhaps play in a weak event where you are likely to perform well in order to regain your confidence.

But to put it in context. I have been playing chess for 61 years and I reckon I have yet to play a good game.

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Sebastian Stone
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Re: Recovering from a bad run of form

Post by Sebastian Stone » Tue Oct 25, 2011 3:10 pm

My method.

1. Announce retirement from chess.

or

2. Find someone much lower graded than you and beat them. Repeat as many times as necessary until confidence is back.

Admittedly, there is a chance in scenario 2 that you will lose, in which case you should probably retire.

Please Note: Not an entirely serious post, if humour offends you I humbly apologise. I will try and restrict my need to make jokes in the future.
Last edited by Sebastian Stone on Tue Oct 25, 2011 3:44 pm, edited 2 times in total.
AKA Scott Stone

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That's Mr Stone to you, f**kface.

Paul Cooksey

Re: Recovering from a bad run of form

Post by Paul Cooksey » Tue Oct 25, 2011 3:18 pm

I think Alan gave the right advice for minor slumps, try to play your way out of it. RPs are indeed good for that purpose. If Thomas will forgive me being blunt, I think most players play above their grade most of the time with occasional slumps. I know I do. (Personally I can also say the world is a much sunnier place after I won yesterday, following some bad form :) )

I'll defer to Andrew Martin's advice on major slumps. It does seem sensible.

Finally, I am not sure if slaughtering beginners anonymously online actually does me any good. But it does lift my mood occasionally :)

Stewart Reuben
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Re: Recovering from a bad run of form

Post by Stewart Reuben » Tue Oct 25, 2011 3:29 pm

Dear Thomas,
Please ignore M Stone's appallingly bad taste in his manner of responding in a thread originated by a schoolboy.

You may not have noticed. You are already a stronger chessplayer than most of the other ECF Arbiters. Our strongest is Ray Keene. Other GMs include Yuri Averbach (Rusia) and Lothar Schmid (Germany).

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Sebastian Stone
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Re: Recovering from a bad run of form

Post by Sebastian Stone » Tue Oct 25, 2011 3:42 pm

Stewart Reuben wrote:Dear Thomas,
Please ignore M Stone's appallingly bad taste in his manner of responding in a thread originated by a schoolboy.

You may not have noticed. You are already a stronger chessplayer than most of the other ECF Arbiters. Our strongest is Ray Keene. Other GMs include Yuri Averbach (Rusia) and Lothar Schmid (Germany).
Needless to say, much in the same way as you never win a game by resigning, you don't improve your form by never playing again.

One of the good things about chess is there will always be someone worse than you, and someone better.

So my advise...play, win regain your form.

Also, you might want to go over your games (which you probably do), if you can see a pattern of mistakes you can (in theory) correct them.
AKA Scott Stone

"Give a man fire and he's warm for a day, set fire to him and he's warm for the rest of his life."

That's Mr Stone to you, f**kface.

ThomasThorpe
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Re: Recovering from a bad run of form

Post by ThomasThorpe » Tue Oct 25, 2011 4:16 pm

Thank you all for your responses! I didn't expect so many good suggestions. I have a league match tonight (which I'm going into with lots of positivity after watching a few youtube clips from Andrew Martin and Peter Lalic) and then have a nice break where I'm going to deeply analyse my games.

At the moment, it seems to be (after some shallow analysis) that at the critical point of an attack or the critical moment, which I can identify, I seem to just be making the wrong plan or the wrong continuations. I seem to be doing the hard work and falling off at the last hurdle!

My openings are pretty strong, and doing lots of tactics puzzles yesterday and today, I haven't lost a critical edge for tactics; I think it's just the firepower and desire to win that I've been lacking, yet I feel really good for tonight's match.

In response to Stewart, I don't have a coach or trainer that's local to me, however over in Wales I do have someone who I do contact to help me, and we have discussed this matter, but I felt it would be good to get other people's views as I think it's an interesting topic at any age!

I'll be sure to post the result of my match tonight at some point!

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