Thursday, 3 March 2011

Deer in the Headlights


After a perfect start to the day, I was in a great mood and all set to relax until the evening games. I couldn't see a suitable opportunity in the Kleybanova v Kraijcek game and was going to leave it, when I decided in the final set to try out a new strategy. It was something I had paper-traded for a few days and out of 10 matches it would have produced a win every single time. So you can guess what happened next.............

The trade started fine and I was all set to get out and green up when it took a sharp, unexpected turn and reversed on me. I was shocked and ended up staring at a £15 red like a deer caught in the headlights. I knew I should have got out but all sorts of thoughts were rushing through my head: 'Don't take a red now, you'll ruin the profit from this morning' 'Next game will probably go back in your favour, stick in for a bit longer' 'There are no more games for hours after this, you don't want to end on a red and have that long wait to recoup'. I ignored the danger signs that my intuition was telling me: 'This looks like it might keep reversing, take the red and admit defeat' and was soon over £100 in the red. It came back my way and I was fortunate to get out for just minus £70.

I was livid inside. I didn't display much emotion outwardly. Gone are the days of smashing my fist into walls and wailing at the top of my voice! It wasn't the trade itself that pissed me off. I stand by it and would do it again on another match. But it was my reaction when it turned that I shudder to think about.


I've realised that I need to be a bit more thorough with my strategy and face up to parts of it that need tightening up. When I get into green positions, I have not generally thought about when I was going to come out of the trade. This leads to a 'Deer in the headlights' moment when trades reverse, where I end up doing nothing and making the situation worse. So I need to put in place a stricter rule for when I start to reverse out of a green position. I have never fully addressed this issue and it is one of the things that has caused me the most problems. I have always left it open-ended as to what I do in that situation. Partly because every situation where you are in profit is slightly different and you perhaps need to apply different techniques depending on your current reading of that situation. But I have to also admit that I have been ambiguous about it because I didn't want to face it. Facing up to the fact that you might be in a situation where you are losing your profit rapidly, is a scary thought. None of us wants to have to face up to that but it's a reality that it will happen.

Last year, I had to face up to the reality that I was going to have to red-out more often than I was doing. It was something I swept under the carpet as I didn't want to even consider the fact I would have an all-red book. But I find that if you prepare for the worst with a strict plan that leaves nothing open to interpretation, it makes it easier to deal with bad situations. If you just say 'I'll deal with it when it happens' and hope that it doesn't, it will leave you like a deer in the headlights, with just seconds to evaluate what your plan of action is. And usually, what you'll be programmed to think is 'Don't red out! Whatever you do, don't lose!'. So I now always know my get-out points and it becomes a habit to just use them without thinking. So now, I will watch the ladders closely and come out of the trade as soon as my P&L reverses from green, to around the £0 mark. No questions asked, no analysis, no waiting an extra point - OUT. Maybe this will eliminate the deer moments!

That said, I would not have placed that trade during a busy week of games. If it hadn't been an 8 hour wait till the next match, I would have just left it. But I couldn't quite face all that time without a chance to gain more profit. Instead, I now had 8 hours of mulling over another stupid error, over-analysing it and kicking myself for lack of patience. There was now more pressure on the evening games and I felt horribly nervous trading them. A big part of me had the urge to just throw every last penny I had left on one player to win. I was fed up of the anxiety and the analysis and the endless rollercoaster. I had a win or bust, self-destructive moment. I just wanted to shout 'fuck it!' and see what happens. Pervak v Hradecka and Sevastova v Cornet just didn't go for me, though I can't fault what I did. I was so close to bursting point during that final game that if I hadn't switched off the PC, I would've lumped everything on one of them. Nothing is going my way when I need it most. Once more, I have fallen back down the well.

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