Pressure and Emotional Instability

Kramnik and Carlsen both lost their matches on Monday and I tried to identify the reason beyond the game of chess. I feel that they lost because both were under pressure to win and pressure to prove themselves, as after all it was semifinal for them. Both played risky games and the result is in front of us. I am not doubting the capabilities of Ivanchuk or Svidler, but if it was not a ‘High Voltage Drama’ Match, there are some chances of different results. This pressure creates emotional instability which may creates some hurdles in thinking rationally.

“Emotional instability can be one of the factors giving rise to a failure by chess players in important duels. Under the influence of surging emotions (and not necessarily negative ones) we sometimes lose concentration and stop objectively evaluating the events that are taking place on the board” – Mark Dvoretsky

I 100% agree as I am victim of the same, I often lose concentration in critical moment/match. A few days back I lost 3 games in a row against a weaker opponent who was just playing swindle chess in order to break my concentration. As a coach I also observed that some times parents put pressure on their children for winning for ‘xyz’ reasons and child lost interest in chess. I think, Hugh Patterson and Richard James can throw some more light on this.

Pressure can be anything, it may be pressure to win, pressure to play against high rated player(often seen in chess amateurs), fearing defeat etc etc. I tried to find out some ways to come out from this kind of situations which are listed below:

Meditation / Yoga/ Deep breathing, suggested by my mentor and to be honest it works really well for me though I am not 100% cure but far better from 2 years back.

Convince your self that it is just a game not the life, so enjoy it.

Do not expect too much from yourself and others (For parents specially).

May be you will find some ways of getting out from emotional instability if you are suffering; that is the only aim of this article.

Ashvin Chauhan