You should try a chess tournament too!Posted October 23 2011
The Web Guy is now addicted to the face-to-face pursuit that is the chess tournament. He found it quite an adventure to be serious about chess last weekend. The competition was stiff, but he learned a great deal from his first foray into the world of competitive chess.
He composed a few rules for those wishing to head into the unknown like he did...
Rule number 1: Just give it a go and don't be nervous! The Web Guy put a lot of pressure on himself to perform in his first tournament. The expectation from all of us was that the competition would be extremely strong and would win within a few moves. The players were strong (The Web Guy was in the U1600 group) but not one of them wiped the floor with him. Every game was a good fight, and his opponent was just as nervous about him as he was about them. As The Web Guy found, the pressure subsides somewhat after the first game.
Rule number 2: Prepare a little before the tournament to get you started well. Play with an opening that gives you a good plan. In order to stand a chance in this tournament The Web Guy learned two solid opening systems: The King's Indian Attack and the King's Indian Defence. He also threw in the French Defence for a black response to e4. At an amateur level these openings seemed to provide a solid plan to follow from the get-go. The Web Guy didn't need know the openings too deeply to have some direction. By having a small opening repertoire and understanding the reasons behind them, you will have a chance of surviving the game, and you have a greater chance of getting the initiative yourself.
Rule number 3: U1600 chess players are strong! Especially the experienced ones. Don't assume they are weak and don't underestimate them. Remember this rule and you will keep yourself on your toes. Don't assume that a nine year old is a weak player. Chances are that they are among the most skilled in the group. Our club and school combos are selling well, and we can only hope that our sets will help produce a new Canadian champion!
Rule number 4: Use all the time on the clock. The slower The Web Guy played the more accurate his moves were. There wasn't any need to rush.
Rule number 5: Develop a process to follow before making your move. The Web Guy generally started by asking himself a couple of questions: What is my opponent going to do next? Why did he move that piece? What is he attacking? By answering these questions, he reduced blunders.
Rule number 6: It appears that tournament chess players play a fairly slow and defensive game so as not to make any silly mistakes. They build up a good position before they strike. Follow this method of play and you may do well. Don't try hopeful attacks without a solid base, as you will be punished.
Rule number 7: Get your opponent out of the opening book as soon as you can. The Web Guy found that tournament players knew their openings very well. To this end they had an advantage over him. In order to get level pegging with them he tended to throw in a strange developing move that was designed to confuse and confound. At the U1600 level this practise worked and soon enough both players were having to think for themselves on a level playing field.
Rule number 8: Play the player as much as the board. The Web Guy found some of the players wanted a quicker game than he did. So he slowed down play. His opponent got fidgety and made a few mistakes. He slowed down play even more. He found that some fidgety opponents liked to get up and walk around. The Web Guy waited until he did, then made his move. The opponent's clock ticked down as he walked around the room, adding just a little more pressure.
Rule number 9: Write the games down accurately on the scoresheet then go home and analyse them. You'll see the game is most likely quite different to those you play with family or friends or on the Internet. Use the games to go through and find mistakes that you made. Find mistakes that your opponent made. Learn from both. If you get the chance, go through the game with your opponent afterwards and learn from them.
Rule number 10: Talk to other competitors. Ask questions. Learn the ropes. Be sociable as most people will be sociable back.
Rule number 11: After your first tournament, commit to your second. Try it again - force yourself. The Web Guy will be playing again in a couple of weeks. He's nervous but excited at the prospect.
Oh! And by the way - The Web Guy came second in his group!