Monday, August 1, 2011

Back to back

How do you explain it? A player has a great tournament one month, a dismal one a month or two later. Nakamura triumphs spectacularly at Wijk aan Zee and a few months later struggles to avoid last place at Dortmund. What is it? What’s the difference? Concentration? Confidence? Fate? Luck? It happens everywhere. Teams go on winning streaks (and losing streaks). Batters go on hitting streaks. Golfers, racing car drivers, best selling novelists, all succeed or fail in streaks.

Yes, simple woodpushers, too. By the time I took up chess I had a family and work that allowed little time for weekend tournaments. They were usually so few and far apart that I came to consider two games won in row a winning streak. Here’s an example from thirty years ago, when my work involved so much travel that I probably got in no more than a couple of tournaments a year. The games were played back to back, one with white, one with black. And each was blessed with a rook sac down the beloved f-file.