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5 Crucial Steps to Stop Bad Results in Chess

Article by GM Avetik Grigoryan

Every one of us has good and bad periods in his chess career.  

There are times when we play very well, we are in a good mood, we think fast, see all the tactics and win a lot of games in a raw. 

And times, when everything seems to be against us. We think slowly, miss simple tactics despite solving many puzzles every day, and as a result, we lose lots of rating points. Such periods are called “black period” or “crisis”. 

 

A man having a "black period" during which everything seems to be agains him. The same can happen in chess

 

What to do then? How to handle such periods?  

 

In this article, I’ll provide you 5 crucial steps to overcome them very fast. Let’s go. 

The 1st important step is

1. Awareness 

It’s very important to be aware of the following three things: 
 

  • Acknowledgment

To acknowledge the crisis and feel that something goes wrong instead of closing the eyes to the problem and ignore it.   

 

  •  We are not alone

You and I are not the only ones who may have and will probably have such bad periods. And if we can handle it better than others, we will have a big advantage over the competition!  

 

  • Bad periods have a snowball effect

When we play badly, we lose our mood, our confidence and as a result, we start to play worse. When we play worse, we lose even more confidence, our mood becomes even worse and so on. This is called snowball effect.  
 

What is the 2nd important step? I think you can guess it smiley

 


2. Stop the snowball  
How? Very easily wink Just take a small break.

 

Take a break and have a rest. It is important especially when things do not go well.



It can be a day, a week or a few weeks, just up to you. It’s very important to stop the snowball and take a step to the 3rd part which is:


 
3. Find the hidden root of bad results.  
Crisis is an amazing opportunity for us. It indicates that it’s time to analyze our games and see what’s the reason of our defeats. 
You will be surprised, when you do this, as very often the hidden reason will be very different from what you were initially thinking. 
 
Recently, one of my students had a bad period and lost around 100 points playing online chess. He immediately stopped playing, stopped the snowball and asked me to check his games. He thought that he blundered a lot and that was the core reason for the bad results. But when we analyzed his games, we found a totally different reason. He was just messing up all the lines, forgetting all his analyses. In many games, instead of making a winning move, which he had in his analyses, he was making a bad move and then losing the game.  

What was the solution?  

He just stopped playing chess 1 weak. He started to revise his lines, variations and analyses, opening by opening. The result? He not just brought back that 100 points but also raised extra 50 points. The crisis in his game was the indicator yelling “Go and revise your analyses.” 
 
Such examples are a lot. I’ll bring another two.


One of my students used to think that the bad play was because of his bad preparation for the opening, but the real reason was that he didn’t make the right practical decisions (a very important topic, I’ll write an article about it). 


Myself, when I became a Grandmaster, the next one year, despite my hard work, I didn’t increase any rating points. It was then when I started to analyze my games very carefully and found out that I was doing horrible mistakes in calculation and in sharp positions. The next 6 months I started to work on them very hard with the help of my coach GM Akopian Vladimir, and it didn’t take me a long time to jump from 2500 to 2600.  

 

My advice: Ask someone to check your games. It can be your coach, mentor or friend, but someone who plays better than you or has more experience than you. He may notice something that you couldn’t see.
 
We should try to stop the snowball as fast as possible, so don’t be shy to ask someone for help. 
 

In his excellent book “How Life Imitates Chess”, Kasparov wrote:

 

An advice from a book “How Life Imitates Chess” when facing a crisis

 

 

4. Find an opportunity  

The Chinese word for “crisis” is composed of not one character but two!  

 

Crisis means opportunity. The way Chinese think about crisis is it is not only a danger, but a perfect opportunity to make changes.
 

 

The 1st one, “wei”, means danger and the second one, “ji”, means opportunity!   
 
Danger – because of the snowball effect about which we have already spoken. 

Opportunity – because the crisis itself is a super chance for us to understand that something goes wrong, find the core issue, fix it and step up to the next level. 

 
Winston Churchill said:  

 

Opportunity means diffuculty: Winston Churchill advise


 


And here is another fantastic quote from Tony Robbins: 

 

What is meaning.

 

 

It’s up to us to decide whether we’ll let that snowball effect take us down or find the opportunity in that crisis period.  

 

And the last step is 

 

5. Replace the word 

When that bad period comes, don’t say it’s a bad period or crisis, instead, use the word “challenge”.


As we already spoke, these periods will happen to every one of us, and if we handle them better than others, we’ll have a big advantage over the competition. So treat them as a challenge: Can you handle them better than others? Can you stop that bad period fast? Can you find the opportunity? You’ll be amazed how better you’ll handle such periods with just changing a simple word in your vocabulary. 
 
The last good news: everything about which we have spoken in this article is applicable also for life!  
We all have good and bad periods and all these steps you can apply in life as well. Just be aware that this happens with everyone and it, unfortunately, has a snowball effect. We should stop it as fast as possible, find an opportunity and instead of treating it as a bad period, treat it as a challenge.  
 
You can download the image below, which I made for you, so you can easily remind yourself of all these important steps whenever that period comes.

 

How to stop bad results: 5 steps


Good luck my friend. I would love to hear your feedback and inspiring stories about how you remained a real warrior in the “challenge period”, found an opportunity and took your chess or life to another level. Feel free to PM me or write in our forum


 

Article by GM Avetik Grigoryan