Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Deja vous all over again: any day in chess life at the BCF

Arriving at a chess tournament I want to feel calm and ready, and start with my mind in a certain state. This mind calibration has caused me to develop some superstitions, but I'm not alone. These actions are contrary to four years of playing high school varsity tennis where I never could accurately predict my results based on how I felt after my warm-ups or evaluating how my opponent looked during their warm-ups. Every preparation for a tennis tournament seemed different from the last.

Superstition is based on the illogical assumption that some disconnected behavior has a causal connection to how well you perform. I bet Bill Belichik would have altered his choice of sweatshirts if given a chance to replay the 2008 superbowl.

One of the neat things about the Boylston Chess Foundation/Club is that given the high number of events there is a familiarity and rhythm that every tournament assumes and all participants contribute to that regularity. The fact that Bernardo Iglesias directs most BCF tournaments also reinforces this. On tournament day the same people appear to arrive at the same time to play, the same people ask for the same byes for the same round as last week. Contestants typically are carrying the same equipment, holding the same beverage, same newspaper, same stuff, etc. Players tend to sit in the same seat and await for the parings to be posted. If players initiate conversations the subject matter seems to be similar with the same people as the week before. People who are working on their openings referring to a book are the ones who were doing this last week as well. A little bit like the movie Groundhog Day. Understandably these behaviors do contribute in preparing ones mind for battle, to an outsider this must look funny.

My oddest superstition is when on the T train to the BCF while crossing the Charles River; I look for female joggers having the odd belief that my chess day will be better if I spot any. Greater odds of a good outcome probably would be increased if I didn't spot the names of Vigorito or Chase paired against mine. Maybe if I wear my gray Patriots hoodie sweatshirt?!

Do you have any superstitions, know of people who do, or have any antidotal stories about the subject? Please comment? Mike Griffin 03/04/2008

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