Thursday, July 4, 2013

Managing emotions during play

Chess players can learn a lot from golfers and tennis players. Number 2 seed Andy Murray just made it to the Wimbledon quarterfinals by beating the unseeded Fernando Verdasco the hard way (4-6, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4, 7-5).  The New York Times reports:
Murray struggled with Verdasco’s aggressive left-handed serve, which regularly topped 130 miles an hour and hit the lines.
Murray double-faulted on set point to lose a tightly fought first set, but he seemed to get back on track by breaking Verdasco in the third game of the second and took a 3-1 lead.
Then things got ugly for Murray and his fans. Verdasco won five straight games, and Murray failed to convert three break-point chances to lose, 6-3. When it was over, Murray was loudly cursing and scolding himself as he sat during the changeover.
“I was up, 3-1, and then made some bad mistakes, poor choices on the court,” Murray said.
A few years ago, that might have been the end for Murray, whose emotions so distracted him that he could not right his game. But a more mature Murray, a Murray with a major championship under his belt, did not panic.
“When you’ve been in that position a lot of times, you know how to think through it and not get too far ahead of yourself,” Murray said. “I definitely didn’t rush when I went two sets-love down. I slowed myself down, if anything, and that was a good sign.”
As Andy Murray understands, games against lower-rated players don't win themselves.  In my last tournament gamehouse player at the CCC Preview Open at IITI almost lost to Philip Linninger (his pre-event rating was 864, mine was 2070).  I was probably busted when Philip's flag fell: will post the game when I find the misplaced scoresheet.

Tennis and chess are played by humans: we try to minimize our unforced errors, but we will make them on occasion.  If you find yourself in a pawn-down endgame this weekend after having already lost your first round, keep fighting!  (But don't equate fighting spirit with lashing out's a difficult balance.)

1 comment:

Frederick Rhine said...

Let me guess - you played 1.e4 e5 against an 864. Give that stuff up!