The 6k Screwup

When I decided to return to ranked games, I will have to be honest in that I expected my graph to just shoot up. In fact, I’ve even developed a reputation in the ASR League for being a “3k Killer.” So it should obviously follow that any even games with 6 and 7 kyus should be something I can win in my sleep right? WRONG!

For those who don’t follow me on KGS, you’ll notice that my rank graph is well… a bit different from what I imagined it would be. xD

Notice how it drops at the end? Twice?!

Like anyone else, I was really frustrated by my progress. I mean, why was I having such a difficult time beating 6-7ks when I actually managed to beat stronger players in even games from time to time? I tried to make all kinds of excuses: the stronger players were underestimating me, my opponents were just lucky I made mistakes, I was in an off mood, etc. But after I realized how those were all just external attributions for things I had control over, I decided to look inward for the answer.

After some soul searching, I realized that the question I needed to ask myself was: Why are my ASR games so vastly different from my ranked games?

At first, I thought that it might be because ranked games carried more pressure and so forth. While that may carry some validity, I know that it can’t be the excuse for my poor play against 6-7ks. I had to find an answer that I would be happy with. So the most obvious thing to do was compare my ranked games and my free games on ASR League.

When I did, I noticed the following trends:

  • ASR games represented a calm style that has proven quite formidable against stronger opponents.
  • Ranked games were extremely aggressive and resulted in either large wins or losses.
  • If I lost a ranked game, I would feel compelled to keep playing in an effort to “redeem” myself.”
  • This usually led to me accepting games that averaged around 10 - 15 minutes main time in order to get a quick win.
  • I usually played ranked games when procrastinating other work I should have been doing.
  • I never felt bad about losing a game where I was able to give my full efforts into each move.

EUREKA! ALL MY PROBLEMS CAN BE TRACED TO ONE THING: TIME.

Here’s why:

  1. Since my nature is already prone to getting into massive fights, having the time pressure only exasperates my bad habit.
  2. If I have a bitter loss, then the aggressive tendency gets worse and I start playing games with even shorter time frames.
  3. The shorter time frames make me more frantic and I end up playing moves that I “think” will work out, but any closer inspection would prove otherwise.

As a result, I resolve to have the minimum requirements when I play: 30 minutes main time with at least 3 periods of 30 second byoyomi. Anything shorter than that has a good chance to throw me off course. And until I have reinforced the fundamentals in every fiber, I will stick with these guidelines in order to prevent myself from self-destructing.*After all, every game I play is a game that I can be proud of, regardless of whether I win or lose.

*For other players, I would recommend a bare minimum of 20 minutes main time because 10 minutes really ends up being more like blitz than anything else.

**The one exception to this rule will be my Tygem 5-dan experiment. =D