All these big problems are stuck in my head and I need to solve all these little problems before.
You tend to not fully grasp the importance of what once were meaningless schools lessons, until you get a chance to experience said lessons unfold right before your eyes, and you seem to know how to respond simply because you were paying attention to class. Or, were you ?
Let that one sink.
From the simplest of all Math problems presented in the form of 1+1 to the very final exam, it’s undeniable the way school shapes you and how we let school shape ourselves.
Let’s think Math. Inside the box, 1 + 1 = 2… And as we grow, we seem to be able to (re)solve harder Math problems until the day we finish our education and we’re left with “I can add and subtract and I see no reason to practically remember how to prove Bolzano’s Theorem.” At the end of the (very long) journey, any big Math problem won’t be much more than a few small Math problems that we should be able to solve (independently and in a certain order) to solve the puzzle and get to the final result.
Be it Maths, or anything else in life, it’s could be hard to look at a big problem and break it down into small little pieces. Unless we’re specifically told what is supposed to be solved, the final goal might not be very obvious. A bit like solving a jigsaw puzzle without knowing what the final image should look like. But, once we have a clear picture of where we need to be at the end of the line, the process becomes nothing than muscle memory to start interacting with the problem by performing known tasks that, after solved, will gradually simplify the problem.
I wake up from my digress and look around, eye-balling the situation, wondering if I gave away my thoughts.
The table cover is even different in this room and we’re all looking at each while thinking “how did we even let this happen,” while taking our sits and extending hands in a mix of camaraderie and contempt. The lists don’t seem to have worked out, unlucky draws and forced mulligans. Unfair match-ups, opponent nut-draws and unraveled top-deck skills that everyone but me seem to have. It’s so easy to go down on a tilt and miss the very big picture when the tide seem to keep going against our paddle.
Driving down the motorway at 3 a.m. with Iron Maiden blasting through the speakers and the sun-roof of the car is angle-open. Cold wind refreshing the car and my aim is to not fall asleep. I’ll get some shut-eye during the flight. In a couple of days I’ll be looking for my table at the venue and will be doing my very best to bring home as many points as possible, where points aren’t easy to come by and I sometimes find myself crying out loud.
It’s very important to know your own limit. It’s very important to know how far one can push him or herself— and whatever it means going that small little extra over the line, that’s when one knows the “big problem” is solved.
I am sitting at the 1-5 table from Grand Prix Antwerp and there are way too many candidates for what I was describing before as “big problem.”
Despite the fact my ‘Living End’ list has been winning the first game consistently, I seem to be doing something very wrong with the sideboard and end up losing the match altogether. My gaming skill is far from the second day at this type of competitive environment, so dropping from the tournament would have happen 2 matches ago. But, before I let my head go into tilt and start doubting all those miles done at dawn, I try to focus on what my goal and on solving the small little puzzles.
“Hi, I’m Luis and I should be playing against…”— I say, while vigorously shaking my opponent’s hand. I am at this tournament to learn and get as much experience as possible, while playing in a competitive environment. And the proof I am slightly going over the line is the fact I get to deliver the score sheet with another victory under my belt. So I forget about all the losses, mulligans down to four cards, flooded top-decks and on and on… And focus on the tasks right in front of my eyes.
The dice roll favours me and I decide to go first with the following hand: “verdant catacombs, copperline gorge, monstrous carabid, street wraith, street wraith, violent outburst, avalanche riders.’ A friend is sitting beside me and I can read his mind. He’s thinking “I know you are going to do it, aren’t you?”
The good thing about sitting at the very last tables is that there is very little but points to be playing the game for, except for the fact we came here to play the game— and not just drop because there’s no Sunday rounds to play for. If you’re not going to do it now, then maybe you should have drop a while ago.
My ‘verdant catacombs’ meets a tapped breeding pool. I try not to grin while answering my friend’s question in my mind, “I am.”
I trade both ‘street wraith’s for a ‘blood crypt’ and a ‘jungle weaver’ while ‘monstrous carabid’ recycles himself on my hand— my opponent is dropping an ‘invisible stalker’ while realising I’m on 13 life already. My ‘monstrous carabid’ cycles into a ’swamp’ and I’m happy it’s not another ‘street wraith’ because I would so go down that road. ‘Unflinching courage’ beefs up the ‘invisible stalker’ and at this moment I wonder if my opponent knows what my 3 untapped lands really mean.
‘Violent outburst’ cascades into ‘living end’ and let me just untap all this goodies here. No, your ‘grafdigger’s cage’ is useless on game two because the graveyard creatures are put into exile before coming into play— they’re not coming straight from the graveyard.
As I hand over the last result sheet, I am still on a negative balance with 4 victories under 5 defeats.
Am I happy with the result? Well, I would prefer it to be much more positive than it actually was. Am I disappointed with the result? Certainly not, as I know my limitations as a player and I am sure I did the very best I could within luck, card pool and opponents’ skill.
Do I want to get better? Definitely. It’s time to push that limit a little further and solve the tiny little problems that are keeping me from getting a better result. And, to do so, I might have to chance a lot of what’s going around me and my Magic: The Gathering habits to make sure I am improving my game in the right direction.
After all, I don’t want to be a casual player forever. Or, do I?
I guess I don’t.
So, I started to make changes in what I believe are my flaws when accessing the game and hopefully what I am improving in my gaming habits will translate into a more disciplined match on my side of the table.
Although it’s good to remember what were my mistakes, it’s also important not to let them control your every move while constantly bringing you back to that atrocious play you did while your head was on tilt.
What did I change on my gaming habits?
A lot, I would confess. But, maybe that’s enough subject for another time.