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Tips To Recover From a Disastrous Tournament

Photo courtesy of Lennart Ootes

by Eric Rosen 


It happens to everyone. You spent weeks (months?) preparing for a big event hoping to win big bucks. The tournament started. You got off to a bad start. You never recovered. The tournament was a total disaster.


Unfortunately, time machines have not yet been invented, so traveling back in time is not an option.


Thankfully, it's not the end of the world. There are far worse things that could happen -- just turn on some cable news.


Here are some tips for recovering after a bad result and bouncing back strong for the next event:


1. Take a break

Taking a little time off from chess can allow you to return with a fresh perspective. Many tournaments can be long, stressful, and completely energy draining. A few days or even a few weeks off can be the best medicine for recovery.


2. Figure out exactly what went wrong

Instead of getting emotional over the result, attempt to dissect all of your mistakes. Identify the key blunders you made. Were they caused by lack of understanding? By carelessness? Did you not get enough sleep beforehand? Did you not manage your time well? How could the mistakes have been prevented? Sometimes reviewing the games with a coach can be beneficial in this regard. Although identifying your mistakes can be painful, it is essential for improvement.


3. Don't worry about rating

Ratings fluctuate. If you have a rating goal, a bad result can make it seem like you’re getting further away from it. This is not the case. If you have the right mindset, learning from bad result will help your rating in the long-term.


4. Look at examples of grandmasters making childish blunders

This is one of my favorite approaches to make myself or my students feel better after a poor result. Everyone makes mistakes. Even the best in the world. Below are some examples of grandmaster making ridiculous blunders.

Kamsky blunder:

Caruana blunder:

Nakamura blunder:

More blunders!