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Chess/How to I deal with dip in form


Hi Tony,

My FIDE rating currently is 1870 and my last 2 FIDE rated tournament performance was at 19++ and 20++ in the span of past 5 months. Due to my busy university schedule I do not really train that much but still I try my absolute best to train a couple of hours daily mostly tactics but skip training altogether around 3 weeks before my exams.

However it is my semester breaks now and for the past few weeks I have been training alot: morning 2 hours, afternoon 3 hours plus and night around 2-3 hours depending on whether I play training games with my sparring partner. I still include physical training in the mornings with 40 minutes jogging and 1 hour gym every alternate day.

Here is where the problem lies: with my intensive training I thought my playing strength would gradually increase but it seems during my sparring sessions I am missing simple tactics and my thoughts are not clear. I am not sure if its due to the fatigue or my unfamiliarity with the position or both. In the past I do not miss such simple tactics and now I am very concerned with my form.

I am doing more tactical puzzles and it seems I can miss even simple shots while in the past I am more vigilant. My training regime now includes tactical puzzles for 1 hour, visualization exercises (which I started 1 week ago), zipping though masters games at warp speed, studying anatoly karpov games, dvoretsky endgame manual, opening study, analysis of own games and solitaire chess. Of course I do not do all in one day but just select 4-5 of it to do according to my mood.

Now I am asking myself is my slight dip in form due to:-

1. Fatigue
2. Visualization training (just started so maybe its messing with my brains as its trying to get used to it)
3. Assimilating too many materials so information overload renders my brain ineffective in "joining the dots" and making the influx of knowledge difficult.
4. Too many Anotaly Karpov games which slightly altered my thought process and the way I am seeing the positions
5. Just normal course of nature when one trains intensively, one's form will dip for a while before it rises.
6. Should just focus on 2-3 things in one day perhaps so I wont confuse my own brains.

I am not sure which is the problem and now once I know how do I overcome it?

Thank you.

Well, I can't really answer such a question.  All I can do is give you my opinion.  I'd say you are overtraining.  Also, people simply get tired of chess after a while; I know I do.  If you try to forcefeed yourself, no matter what it is, you're likely to upchuck sooner or later. :)

Of course, I am admittedly an old guy (from a different generation), so I must confess that I don't have a clue what visualization exercises are (or what they are supposed to facilitate).  Nor do I quite understand what benefit zipping through masters games will provide you.  One further word of advice though:  beware of doing things which may appear to be (and are oft touted as) Serious Study, but which are in fact only so much window-dressing. ;)


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Tony D'Aloisio


I've read a good deal on the subject and I can answer a lot of chess history questions (or at least I'll know where to look them up). Also questions regarding analyzing specific positions (although with the advent of powerful chess software, this isn't likely to have the importance it once did).


I was a national master in the US for a number of years. My peak USCF rating was 2290, and I was ranked in the top 150 in the state of California. My current published rating is 2177.

B.A. Sonoma State University 1984 (English major with Communications emphasis)

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