Orienteering is the Chess of Running

Ah yes the old knight to veg boundary opening, the minutes wasted searching for a mate or control that’s not there, but it is not just the literary games of metaphor that brought me to this conclusion.

Most people up to a certain skill level of both sports (is Chess a sport)? activities have a natural level of ability and perform according to those skills on the day.  They may not do an extensive amount of training but their running speed and natural intellect causes them to perform better than their training suggests they should.

Further, over the board some people can see the problems and solve them on-sight, for others it takes training and repetition. Effectively red pointing the moves (maybe chess is climbing – the hardest climb I seconded was a HVS 5a called Knight’s Move  and on the 600ft mountain route on Tryfan, Grooved Arete the crux is called knight’s move  (HVD 4a?! I soloed that) due to the up and across nature of the moves).


This Wednesday I ran on an area that was very sandy.  Paths merged into ‘open’ sand and green impassable areas on the map were not necessarily the obvious green areas standing out in the sand.  All standing water was dry!  It was a real puzzle.  We ran on a 1:5000 scale map, which meant it felt fast and things happened quickly! I was very conscious of these things as I ran in an area I wasn’t comfortable in.  I couldn’t see the ground, I couldn’t feel the map as I would have liked.  The same goes for the Dale Head area in the lakes.  I felt a lot happier on the other days even with technical contours.  I think I had a frame of reference and this is the point.


When you learn a new chess opening, you get excited to try it out and then a few moves in your opponent will go ‘off book’ (which is damned unsporting especially if you’ve only learnt one line a la fools mate) so the key to success is to play/train more, learn a range of different styles, openings and mates so you have a frame of reference.  Once you’ve seen this you know how to finish it:

Ditto ‘O’, especially with map memory tricks, you can visualise the entire route with only a quick glance at the map on some legs because there will be a frame of reference.

There’s not real point to this post except that I was trying to work out how to improve and what to train.  I think next orienteering event I’m going to pick a specific item (map memory to attack point or similar, practice running at different paces to avoid silly mistakes from going too fast) rather than just trying to run as fast as I can while map reading.

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