In my post on my last round game in the Reno Chess Club Ch. Qualifier I promised an exploration of "other factors in the final result of a chess game" and today we'll take a shot at this; in the meantime the excellent Phaedrus of Chess Vision has provided a post and chart that will be helpful, so perhaps you'll hit the link and review that before continuing...
Back already? Okay, first, I hope he doesn't mind my linking his very useful chart so that you can refer to it without jumping back and forth:
In the comments I suggested that it might be instructive to have the green boxes placed in between the "transfer" and "playing" boxes; as I said there:
[T]he green boxes (concentration, stamina and time management) almost act as a filter or "bottleneck" to showing the level of patterns, calculation and visualization (after transfer). So the green boxes might be placed in line with and after transfer; if they are all 100 percent "open" then the player's full strength is available (and this would be rare or impossible); the more any one of these physical/psychological factors is "constricted" the smaller percentage of strength is showing in the play on the board.
I've read a lot of chess books over the years (probably too many), played over master games and done tactical exercises (probably not enough) and yet I've seen very little specific, useful material in the chess literature on the important topics, the filters that attenuate your results, of concentration, stamina and time management.
Now these things are not totally neglected, but some of the advice is obvious and trite, ("Eat well, exercise and get enough sleep"), some is conflicting ("Don't get up from the board often, it takes time to refocus, but do get up and stretch, keep blood flowing to the brain"), and some is confusing ("don't study openings, but if by studying openings you get into a playable middlegame having saved time and energy for later, why, DO study openings!").
I'm going to use my game with Chris Harrington, mentioned above, as an illustration of how all of these factors affect the results of the game, because for our purposes here it's going to be only the results that count; "playing well" for most of the game, getting "good positions" and so on are for all practical purposes useless. The concentration, stamina and time management "boxes" are where playing well becomes playing poorly and good positions are turned into losses. I'll be focusing on these things from that perspective.
For reference, here's my game with Chris:
On the surface, here's a one-paragraph description of the game (from my perspective): We both played the opening by the book for 13 moves which left me 83 minutes for only 17 more moves; on move 21 he overlooked my tactical idea and I won a piece for two pawns with a "winning" (heh) position; on move 26 and 29 I don't play the good move Ne4 despite the fact that I looked at it, and lose most of my advantage; and after the time control at move 30 my play is pretty weak, my moves 33, 34 and especially 36 are all (?), meanwhile he plays well, knowing he's down material he activates his pieces against my draughty king position and takes advantage of the openings I give him to play a winning combination.
Under the surface: During the four days before the game my wife was working out of town and I had the entire responsibility for taking care of the home and our son, and though I got a decent amount of sleep the night before the game I had had less than adequate rest the two previous nights. As noted, I played the first 13 moves quickly but having plenty of time available I spent 7-12 minutes on several of the moves between 14 and 25, some of which could have been played more quickly, but I was sometimes looking at the same lines over and over, checking and rechecking since I was starting to feel tired and "vacant" and this led to even more fatigue. I felt pretty decent during the first part of the game, but even though my opponent was playing quite quickly (less than 50 minutes for the whole game) right around the critical point of move 26-30 I was already feeling dopey, though less than 2.5 hours had passed since the beginning of the game.
When we reached this position with White to make his 36th move:
I was sincerely trying my best, but I felt rather like there was a fog before my eyes; my focus was no longer on the whole board and my opponent's possibilities. As best I can remember I was looking at a small area of the board, roughly just his checking pawn, my king, his rook and his queen, and my confused thinking went something like "There are only two moves, after king takes I don't see anything immediately devastating but my king looks exposed there, his queen checks on h8 and he controls the file, whereas if I take with the queen my queen controls the file." Something shallow like that, not even considering his very next move, Rg2+ and wins.
So to sum up, the concrete results of declining stamina and concentration were scattered, completely inadequate calculation and the overlooking of the opponent's possibilities in a position where the result of game was in the balance.
Here's the post I wrote right after I got home from the game, (something I've never done before) a heartfelt expression of fatigue and frustration, not with the intention of excusing or alibiing my loss, but a genuine account of the way I felt at the time. I'm glad I gave credit to my opponent, where credit was due, because he played better and deservedly won; but I was just a little angry that this important game had been lost not because of any defects in my chess armory but because I hadn't been able to play up to the ability I knew I had. After all the work and planning and study, I hadn't been able to show what I was capable of.
Now that in my own long-winded fashion I've given some background and an example of the problem, in Part II we'll have a go at identifying what can be done about it.