After a (very) long break, I played in a major swiss chess tournament – Canadian Chess Open 2012 in Victoria. I scored only 50%, which is not too great given that all of my opponents were rated lower than myself. Nonetheless, I truly enjoyed playing after such a long break. Here is what I re-learned about competitive chess yet again:
- Studying chess at home cannot replace regular tournament practice. Practical chess strength needs constant feeding by playing in tournaments
- Opening preparation in large Swiss Events plays a major role. Everyone does it these days! Catch opponent unaware is more important than finding a hole in their old repertoire (they will play something new to surprise you anyway, so you should not expect them to walk the same path as in previous games). This was often an issue for me, where in 3-4 games my opponents served me with opening surprises, or simply remembered established theory better than I did
- Opening repertoire must allow for variety, both to avoid getting surprised, and also to be more flexible and work around opponent’s weak spots
- Getting enough sleep, food, fresh air before the games is quite essential for maintaining concentration during the games
- The tension of a big slow time controls event cannot be compared to a blitz game online, and not even to an unrated rapid one-day Sunday tournament
- Modern time controls don’t allow you to get flagged due to increments, but you only have a chance to think deep a couple of times during the game – choose those moments wisely. Ideally you don’t have to take those deep thinking sessions right out of the opening
- Many players avoid mainline theory in favour of choosing lines that they are familiar with. Here is what those guys played against me in this tournament:
1.e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d3
As Black: 1. e4 b6
- There are a lot of young chess players in BC who need to be watched out for!
- One can lose a lot of rating points in a tournament, and still enjoy the experience!
- Victoria chess organizers take running events very seriously, and want to create the best environment for competitive chess