Hey everyone ~ For those of you that don’t know me (let’s be honest, that’s probably all of you), I’ve been playing chess for around 10 years now, qualifying for numerous tournaments as a representative of both my state and the U.S. at the National Girls Invitational Tournament and the World Youth Chess Championships respectively.
Compared to all those young prodigies that occupy the top scholastic ranks nowadays, I started chess relatively late – at the age of 8. And for almost an entire year, I lost just about every single game I played. No joke – I spent most of 2nd grade as the worst player in my elementary school’s chess club. While I ascended to expert level relatively quickly after I finally learned how to checkmate, my years in high school have kept me there – it wasn’t until this last April that I finally reached 2100.
Now, you’re probably thinking ,”Oh, she must have had more time to study or gotten a new coach or something to get to 2100!” I wish that were true (as it’d make going forward easier), but that’s not what happened. At all. Going into my senior year of high school, I hadn’t had a coach for around two years, I barely studied chess (if at all) since I was preoccupied with college applications, and I had previously decided that rather than focus on tournaments, I was going to devote my time to the NJ All-Girls Chess Camp that I had just founded. If anything, the only “change” that I committed to was growing older (which, let’s face it, wasn’t even a choice).
However, against all odds this past March/April, I performed at master level at both Philadelphia Open and High School Nationals and broke 2100. But how? Maybe I magically adopted a better understanding of chess. Or maybe I was just incredibly lucky two tournaments in a row.
Ultimately, I’ve learned that even if your rating is not going up, the experiences you get help you improve, and the pressure that comes from performance expectations doesn’t help. All we can do as chess players is take the games one at a time, and worry about what move to make next.