Having subjected you, the reader, to all kinds of reportage on the 2007 Western States Open held in beautiful Reno, NV October 12-14, let me sum up and move on.
I had my best results in five years (since the 2002 Alaska State Championship) in terms of tournament performance (1800) and general quality of play. After a blunder in the first game, I managed to play three consecutive games against players rated above me and score of 2.5 with (as far as I can tell) no major blunders (I could certainly use any constructive criticism you might care to offer: Game 1, Game 2, Game 3, Game 4). This represented a definite step forward, and I'm attributing it partly to work on my game, but also I'd like to give some credit to my study of Jonathan Rowson's book Chess for Zebras and its inscrutable Eastern Mysticism...well, not exactly that, but I believe that some of the concepts and ideas I read there in the weeks before the tournament really helped with mental preparation and attitude.
Specifically: "Style? I have no style" (Karpov), I'm just playing good moves as I see them. I used to believe there was usually a "best" move in the position, and sometimes there is, like a mate-in-one, but I normally see that; I now am on board with the concept that chess is just too hard to worry about perfection, so I'm happily imperfect.
I've gotten better at just playing the position in front of me and pretty much forgetting what has gone before; errors earlier in the game don't sap my confidence as much. Another interesting note is that I used to think about winning many times during a game, but the beautiful paradox of chess is that thinking about winning less leads to more wins. Just try to play decent moves and let their resignation come almost as a surprise! Also, be surprised when they play a bad move--I'm getting better at looking for the opponent's good moves rather than the ones that allow me to realize my plans.
Finally, I've always been a player who tried to do something "constructive" with every move, going forward, attacking something, gaining space etc etc. I think I'm getting a little better at knowing when defensive, consolidating, prophylactic, "little," even "nothing" moves are called for. "Holding" the position, "tacking" and so forth have their place--but that doesn't mean I won't go for the throat when called for, either.
I'm not trying to overdo it here, as I well realize I have plenty of flaws and weak spots as a chess player, and one good tournament doesn't make me a psychological chess guru or anything close to that! I'm going to have losses and disappointments in the future, no doubt.
Yet, I feel like I'm going to be enjoying chess more than ever, and that's really the point of it all.