Complacency in Chess

This past weekend I learned an interesting lesson. I was playing in the beginning section of the Mind Games Tournament held at Bethel College. Yes, I know my rating on here is much too high for that but my OTB rating is quite low (below 1000 at tournament time). The TD, a fellow team mate from the Indiana State Team Championships, was kind enough to get us a room on the campus for the tournament.

In the intermezzo between Rounds 3 and 4 I have become quite relaxed. At this time I had a score of 2.5/3, including a draw acquired in extreme time trouble against a superior opponent. Needless to say, I was quite content with myself at this point. In the next round I was paired up with another team member from the previously mentioned Team Tournament. My rating was higher then his and my game seemed to be on the mark for the day so I felt no fear. In the opening I began with the Nizmo-Indian Defense and was developing naturally. All the sudden I got some bug that causes insanity in chessplayers. I decided, against all good common sense, to try some tactical tricks on my opponent in the hopes of pulling off a mate with a pawn grab. He was able to defend it quite naturally and all the sudden any hope of a win went out the window. After playing several mediocre moves I ended up in a lost endgame down a rook. At this point I essentially lost first place in my division to the very same opponent. The lessons learned were three-fold.

 1. Do not become fixated on you score or the rating. Worry about each game as if your life depended on it.

2. If you have some information on your opponents choice of openings, play accordingly. Some players are notorious for playing the same openings against 1. e4 or 1. d4.

3. Do not become complacent and keep to your plan. Nothing will kill your game with a logicless plan at a quick mate like a sound defense.


  • 8 years ago


      Hi,Im wondering if mental fatigue was a factor?What I mean is although you were comfortable with the game your mind needed a break from the normal tactics and variations one would expect.Thats why I like playing players with a low rating,not because I can win (sometimes)!but because anything can happen.They play outside the normal so you have to think outside the normal!

  • 9 years ago



    I assume you did some analysis before entering into the tactics that ended up loosing you the game. To me, it sounds like you lost because of faulty calculation rather than because of complacency (?) I've had similar experiences myself with faulty analysis of variations. I've just written an article on my own chess blog ( about how, when calculating a variation, I just – quite comically – forgot that knights can move backwards!

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