One thing I discovered last week was how important it is to think of time as well as power.
Before now, I’ve tried a move, been countered by my opponent, and therefore immediately gone on to try something else. Only last week did it occur to me to ask myself: how much is this costing him?
Because if it doesn’t cost me much to maintain the pressure, and he’s in a weak position and using every ounce of his strength to resist me, it makes a lot of sense for me to wait a few seconds and see if time is on my side.
Like all big discoveries it’s utterly obvious but it’s made a big difference to my game. Whenever we reach a momentary stalemate I make this test – and if I think that he’s going to run out of steam before me (usually because I’m in a better position than I thought, but it might just be that he’s weaker than I thought) then I apply less strength but more weight, count to five and see how things evolve.
Now I have to get rid of the related bad habit: when trying a move you’re not sure of, try it at half strength first and if it feels OK then really commit yourself to it. In other words, give your opponent notice of what you’re doing! It’s an easy habit to get into if you’re not confident and surprisingly hard to kick.