Just set my board on fire! Call it fatigue, call it a mental block, I don't know what to call it and I don't understand why it creeps into my games. I keep losing to kids that are much less than my adult competitors. I lost to two children today at the Idaho Open Chess Championship. In one case, I just did not make the better moves that I knew were better. I even lost by dropping my rook on the wrong square after I recorded the right square to place it! In the second game, I began by thrashing my opponent and took all his minor pieces and most of his pawns, I then did not take a pawn that he marched down the board to checkmate me with. When I consider the last four tournaments I have been in, my only loses were all to kids except one to Barry Eacker. I am dumb-founded and I discovered very little on the net to address problems such as these.
In talking to other players, I have heard of gender blocks - girls that don't play boys well and girls that don't play girls well. The net is full of stories and analysis of gender blocks, but there seems to be little to nothing about age blocks. Maybe there are too many embarrassed adults who are unwilling talk about continually losing to kids? Kids today are very good and they tend to be underrated or overrated due to scholastic tournaments and the problems of rating those tournaments.
Why do I lose to kids? It can't be to educate the opponent (which is my profession). Nobody would intentionally lose to a child in a tournament as that certainly doesn't help the child get better. It can't be pity because that displays a lack of respect. And I certainly don't feel bad when I have beat a child who was a tough opponent. It isn't that I think less of my opponent because they are younger. I know not to underestimate anyone in chess. It is not that I am not seeing the flawed moves, as I certainly knew what the better move was. What could my sub-conscious self be thinking or basing decisions on?
My next thoughts were to play up a section to increase my chance of playing adults. For example, there aren't any children in the Open Section. My game would definitely be better than it has been in the Reserve Section. On second thought, this would be avoiding the problem rather than exploring and getting to the root of the cause. After my opponent in round 3 took pity on me and said, "it's o.k., you played a fine game," I wanted to run out of the tournament room and set my board on fire. Instead, I spent a sleepless night visualizing the board and the five different ways to prevent checkmate in my match. Tomorrow brings two more games and two more kids to play. Place your bets!
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