Welcome to my article on strategies at the chessboard. Today, I want to go through some strategies that you can use over-the-board.
Battling Fatigue and Blunders
Tiredness is the most common cause of mistakes, particularly one-move blunders. Mental exhaustion affects everyone. It is said that well known English GM Michael Adams once fell asleep at the chessboard for 15 minutes and simply woke up and started playing again as if nothing had happened. So how should you combat fatigue? A grandmaster once said that “a brain without sugar is not a brain”. My personal opinion is that eating or drinking something is the best option. Going to the bathroom to wash your face has a short-term affect, but I find that I quickly become tired again. I like to drink something at the board, like fruit juice or a milk product.
American IM Jeremy Silman gave a number of suggestions including chocolate (following Serbian GM Svetozar Gligorić), apple juice (in the footsteps of American GM Robert James “Bobby” Fischer), bananas and ginseng (or ginseng tea). Of course, chocolate may be too sugary for some people and Silman also warns against dried fruit.
Of course, you’re going to find yourself in plenty of situations where you make a major blunder. It is often a human tendency to immediate realise that your previous move was a blunder only after you have played it. This is because the mind resurfaces and re-evaluates after you make your move. It’s impossible to avoid this in all situations, but you can probably predict the type of position where this might happen and think extra carefully before you play your move.
If you have made a blunder, try not to dwell on it too much. The best way to continue, in my opinion, is to keep a “poker face” – look as if nothing has happened. Kasparov is an exception to my suggestion – he was known to have openly shown his disgust when he realised that he had made a very bad move. Of course, showing this sort of emotion immediately communicates to the opponent that he may have a good move, which is why, for the vast majority of players, I recommend the poker face approach… (Click link for full article)