Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Jack’s Back

Our Friend Jack Rudd - Back When We Were Beautiful; Jack’s Sacs - returns to write another post for us today.  Welcome back Jack. 

For The First Time In Forever
- IM Jack Rudd

Sometimes, you have a pattern you need to break. And you don't realize it until you break it by accident.

By any standards, July-October 2013 was a disastrous set of months for my chess, culminating in a tournament at Crawley where I lost 30 rating points. This would normally be my cue to try to win them all back at the London Chess Classic and Hastings, and fail again, and set off another chain of depressive thoughts that would send me off to another unsuccessful tournament.

Instead, two things happened to break the chain. One is that I ended up arbiting at the Classic rather than playing, because I needed a norm from an all-play-all for my International Arbiter title. The other is that my girlfriend, Olivia Netshagen, invited me to spend Christmas and New Year with her and her family in Sweden.

(Olivia with her mother and sisters. L to R: Oleana, Kristina, Olivia, Ellen)

This proved to be an excellent decision, and not just because it meant I got to spend time with Olivia. It gave me the break from high-level play that I needed so that I could return to the game on my own terms and with my head clearer. A couple of lower-level tournaments - the Gibraltar Challengers and the Exeter Open, both of which I scored 4/5 in - served me well for the next few months, but the real test was how I would do on my return to norm-tournament play in the Easter international at Sunningdale.

At first glance, the answer seemed to be "not very well", as I blundered early on and lost to a 1900-rated player in round one. And if I'd still been in the frame of mind I'd been in in October, this would no doubt have triggered another disastrous tournament.

But then, in rounds 2 and 3, I played these two games:

And it became apparent that my form was coming back to me: I'd kept control nicely in round 2, and negotiated a tricky endgame in round 3. And from then on, I played like I know I can play, and rounded things off with this nice win against a much higher rated player to finish on 6/9 and a gain of 18 rating points:

It was a good tournament for me. But I don't think it would have been had I not stumbled randomly on the strategy of not playing my usual December tournaments; the pattern needed to be broken to get me into the right frame of mind again. I may not make it to grandmaster; I may never be that good. But for the first time in forever, I'm feeling like I could.


an ordinary chessplayer said...

Nothing to do with chess, but: Tim Noakes (M.D. from South Africa) has a theory that injuries can benefit runners because they habitually overtrain, and the injury forces them to rest instead. He gives several examples in his book "The Lore of Running". There is a strong temptation to think that "more work" is the answer to all difficulties, but sometimes more rest is what is needed.

Jack Rudd said...

Follow-up event: 3/3 in the final 4NCL weekend. One lucky win and two good ones; things are looking good.