The long and winding road to mastery-2
|Written by Peter Zhdanov|
|Saturday, 24 July 2010|
Candidate master Peter Zhdanov's column at Pogonina.com
Playing against tough opponents is not only interesting, but also useful in terms of improving one's chess. So, recently I decided to participate in an IM-norm event in Moscow held my GM Igor Glek at the RGUFKSiT university. The field has been finalized during the proceedings of the tournament, but I knew in advance that there will be 3-4 IMs, a few FMs, a WGM and some other quite experienced players. Taking into account the fact that I have played only 48 FIDE-rated games in my life before, I had just a few chances to face opponents of such level. Anyway, I have been studying a lot and performing at a 2200+ level in the last two competitions, so there was nothing to be afraid of.
I had three main goals for the tournament:
1) Gain experience of playing in events of such caliber
2) Pinpoint my chess weaknesses and try to dispose of them
3) Increase my rating by 30-40 points
The schedule was free, so one could take vacation days and play at any time. This is very convenient, especially given that no problems occurred. Opponents showed up on time, no one tried to avoid playing, so everything went quite smoothly. I also took a few vacation days (to meet Natalia from France, etc.). The competition has been tough: only a few short draws, but no game-dropping, as far as I know. The great atmosphere has been ensured by the organizers - GM Igor Glek and IA Evgeny Linovitsky. Story-telling, giving advice, offering some tea - they have been very nice and supportive. Igor also helped everyone in sorting out issues wish schedule and provided us with daily updates by e-mail (the standings, pairings, etc.).
The university itself is quite lovely: lots of signed equipment of famous sportsmen with autographs, pictures, cups. A great dining room with quite modest prices (too bad I didn't visit it during the first few rounds). The guards, naturally, haven't been too friendly, but what can one expect from them...
As it can be traced from the table, this tournament has become a serious trial for me and an epic fail. Last time I performed so terribly was in 2001 when I entered a strong open being only a young B-class player and scored 0.5 out of 9. Nonetheless, I believe that, just like last time, this is an indicator of getting to a new level in chess. Before a serious increase in mastery there is often a fall. A few more conclusions:
1) Playing in such events is an excellent opportunity to motivate oneself to take a walk every day (to get to the venue)
2) Incredible heat affects the mind a lot, sometimes you make inexplicable decisions.
3) Good physical shape and nutrition are critical. Many of the mistakes I made happened at hours 4-5 of the game when I was tired and hungry. Ф
4) At amateur level (below GM) the opening is important, but not as much as people often tend to think. During the last few months I have been studying some variations till move 20-40, but here most people deviated on as early as move 1-5. Also, we don't have the technique to convert a +/- position in 90% of the games. Sometimes you get an advantage, and just a move later screw it by making a positional mistake.
5) Player's class is important, i.e. playing on a stable level. Consistency is essential: making average moves is better than sometimes playing like a genious, sometimes like a noob.
Opening: A-. In most of the games I had a healthy advantage in the opening, even as Black. No one posed any serious problems before me or found flaws in my preparation.
Middlegame: C. Even in familiar positions I often chose the wrong plan, started doing strange things. I should play more games in "my" openings, gain some experience.
Endgame: F. Alas, I seldom have a chance to play an endgame since most of the fights end up with someone being mated or up material. Anyhow, I lost all the endgames in this event (including better ones or dead drawn, e.g. rook and 3 pawns vs rook and 3 pawns on the same side). Study, study, study.
Tactics: C+. Normally my tactical vision is at a decent IM's level, but here I made uncommon mistakes. Blundered some ideas of my opponents, missed my own chances. In the last round I allowed my opponent to trap my queen. No comments.
Strategy: C. My evaluation of the positions was pretty lame. Here and there I started attacking viciously (thinking that I have an advantage) for no reason, or relying on traps and sacrificing pieces to make the game more complicated (considering my position to be strategically hopeless, while it was quite defendable).
Calculation: C+. One of my chess nicknames is "calculator" for the mastery in quickly seeing variations. This time it hasn't been the case: I kept missing some lines or tried to talk myself into opting for a continuation where I couldn't really see anything positive.
Time management: B. Before the last few rounds everything went well. I always had plenty of time on the clock, played in a natural way and didn't get into time trouble (unlike my opponents). Then, as I started losing confidence and began over-checking my judgements, the situation became somewhat worse.
To sum it all up, I liked everything at this tournament, excluding my result!
To be continued (the next episode will feature chess problems from the IM-norm event's games!)
Days to FM: 723
Episode 1: It has begun!
|Last Updated ( Tuesday, 03 August 2010 )|
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