When Amy Lee moved to our school and walked into class for the first time, my legs turned to jelly in seconds. I immediately knew I had to ask her out. Over the next few days I scripted and practiced my knock-out speech; I would be confident, suave, charming. She would smile at my smooth proposal, lightly touch my arm, and whisper ‘I’d love to go out with you’.
During lunch the following Thursday, I decided to go and sweep Amy off her feet. I walked up to her and as she turned toward me, I suddenly decided waving would be a good idea. Unfortunately I waved with the hand that was holding my drink. I spilled the contents all over myself, slipped on the bit the liquid that made it to the floor, broke my fall with my hand, which broke, and I collapsed into a wet, blubbering heap. As I looked over to Amy, she was looking behind her, apparently trying to see who the idiot on the floor was trying to wave at.
I remembered this incident earlier this week, when another well laid plan got lost in the midst of an adrenaline rush. In my weekly club game, I blundered away a pawn. It wasn’t a tricky position or a great combination, I just didn’t follow my method. If I was given the position as a tactics problem, I would get it in a second. See for yourself: Black has just played …Rad8, so it is White to move.
I immediately thought, his rook is opposite my queen, he’s probably going to play …e5, and I set about calculating some non-existent threat. If I followed my own advice and used my method to choose the next move, I would have spotted that …Nxc5 was a more realistic and immediate threat.
Of course, when you sit across an opponent, it is not always easy to stick to your method. Maybe it is a question of turning it into a habit, so that it becomes an automatic thought process. One way to do this may be to follow this method in your post-game review. There is less pressure and you can put a note next to the board to remind yourself to go through it before every move.
Amy Lee might be lost forever, but remembering to review checks, captures and threats after my opponent’s move is surely not.