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James Altucher


Lessons from first round in the Atlantic Open

I won but I got lucky. I don't think I played so well and I'm not quite sure how to drill these obvious lessons in my head.

But then again, that's negative self-talk right there and I'm already succumbing to it even though I won in the first round.

Trying to learn at least three lessons from each game.

What is below is my "first draft" of what those lessons might be but then I go over them with a coach.

    1. When I open up my kingside with h4 and g4, don't castle kingside!

    My reasoning was, his kingside was totally undeveloped so he wouldn't be able to exploit it. WRONG! He provoked g5 by me and then did h6 and opened things up right away.

    I should've developed my queenside with Bf4 Nd2 c4 O-O-O Kb1 and I would've had all the chances.

    2. When he castles queenside I should BOOM! open things up and get in b4-b5.

    Instead I did Nd2 (see image). Now look at my bishop and rook. They are in prison! How am I going to crush with my pieces in prison and he's about to do Nh6, attacking my weak pawn on g4 and removing the defenses of my king.

    Instead, Dxc, Bxc5, and then b4-b5. I'm not winning but at least I'm attacking and not losing there and my pieces get active.

    Also, after b4-b5, Bb6, b5, ab, I don't have to take back right away. Do a4!, give up pawns to get open lines.

    I even did another idea list about this EXACT concept and yet I didn't do it here. All my pieces would get active. Instead I have to figure out how to get that stupid knight out of the way.

    There's the negative self-talk again.


    3. Stop being greedy.

    The image below is right after I do Nf3-d2. My plan is to do f3 and his Knight on g4 has no squares to move to and he loses a piece. I thought I was a genius here.


    But I'm completely ignoring (and he did also fortunately) that he is a winning attack.

    he can sacrifice that piece, open up all the lines and have an overwhelming attack.

    Again, I should've focused on what the position is saying:

    - keep my pieces on the kingside to defend (i.e. don't move them away on d2)

    - open up lines on the queenside (again, b4, comes to mind instead of Nf3-d2)-

    Instead, in a few moves we reach this position:


    And instead of doing cd, he could've just sacriciced his night with Ngxe5 and if something like Bxd5, Qxd5 Bd6, Qe2, Rh8 I would, yes, win a piece but look at the position he would be in:


    4 of his pieces would be attacking my king. Which is totally exposed. I don't think there's any way I can save this. I have no attack and look at my pathetic rooks compared to his. I have no play here.

    I am lucky he missed this. I won the piece and he still had an attack but I was able to defend and win. But I got lucky I feel. I played poorly.

    4. Everything boils down to activating the pieces

    - Develop my pieces and don't tangle them up.

    - Don't make my king weak

    - Activate pieces instead of being greedy.

    - When he castles queenside, open up lines no matter what

    - when he closes things temporarily, don't forget it's temporary and just open lines and activate pieces.

    5. I'll condense this further

    - Don't make king weak

    - Always activate, always activate - no matter what. Activate > Greed.

    This could've been a fun adventurous game instead of a scary one. I'm glad I won though.

    6. My question is....

    I know all of this. Why did I play the way I did? I don't know. Maybe now I'll know. I even looked at all the right moves during the game so I was aware of them. But I opted for the weaker moves instead.

    7. Also, stop with the negative self-talk

    Even if I play badly again and again. If I go over the games I'll eventually learn. And the important thing is, I stayed in the game, found counterplay, took my shots at the end, and still won despite playing poorly for about 70% of the game.

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