Sunday, 28 November 2010

The sweatshirt of victory!

It’s old, it’s jaded, it’s a bit dirty, it’s certainly not fashionable and it’s not even that warm anymore. Yet my grey sweatshirt has been my lucky charm so far this season. I haven’t yet lost when wearing it and on Wednesday night I collected the latest piece of evidence to support the argument that this garment is my lucky charm. Having lost two games in a row I came back into form with a really nice win and I was wearing the sweatshirt.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not particularly superstitious and I normally laugh along with everyone else when I hear stories about sports people who believe that certain rituals performed before or during an event will help them to succeed. Sure, I’ve had the occasional “lucky pen” that has carried me through a streak of games and of which I have idly thought, “I’ve won the last four games writing with that pen” before promptly losing the fifth in horrendous fashion.

No, this is different. This run with the sweatshirt has actually started to influence my behaviour. For example, when I play for my other club in Leeds I normally go to the matches straight from the office. In seasons gone by I would have gone in my work clothes but this season I’ve started to take a change of clothes with me to the office so that I can change before I go to chess club. Ostensibly, I tell myself that this will make me feel more relaxed and comfortable at the board and that might be true but the reality is that the first item of clothing to get packed into my bag is the sweatshirt. To be totally honest, I’ve even thought twice about laundering it if I think it won’t be washed and dry in time for the next fixture. This is deep-seated behavioural change!

My current job role brings me regularly into contact with information analysts who produce performance indicators and so I’m only too aware of the potential pitfalls of seeing “trends” in data that isn’t comprehensive enough to support your thesis. Knowing this only too well then it is at this point in the season that I feel I have played enough games to start doing some statistical analysis of my performance with and without the sweatshirt.

The graph below plots my approximate rating gains and loses after each of my games so far this season. These results are all from competitive games and include a couple of rapidplay results.

I think this chart clearly shows that my performance with the sweatshirt is much better than without it. This Wednesday’s game gave me the strongest proof yet. After a mini-slump of two defeats in a row (admittedly to very strong players who I’d at least expect not to beat) I bounced back with a the very nice win below against a player rated marginally higher than me.

This is my first win with the White pieces since last season!

So, what next for the Sweatshirt of Victory? Well, I have a match tomorrow and I intend to wear the garment for that. Having made this crackpot theory public part of me hopes that I wear it and lose just so that I can free myself from the prison that I have now created for myself.

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