you can find part 1 of this tournament report at http://www.chess.com/blog/TVEDAS/tournament-report-lithuanian-chess-championship-2013-part-1
After winning round 2 I was getting some of my pre-tournament confidence back. The situation was not ideal, of course, but my play in round 2 gave me some hope that if I continue that level of play I can do well.
Let's talk about the psychological aspect of round-robin tournaments a bit. I think it is extremely important to constantly work with yourself psychologically in round-robins. It is of course also important in Swiss tournaments, but the fact that you don't know what awaits you as far as opponents go makes it a lot different. If you have 4 out of 6 in a 9 round Swiss, you might get 3 strong opponents, or 2 strong and one weaker opponent, or 2 weaker opponents and one stronger one.. you get the point. If you have 4 out of 6 in a 9 round round-robin tournament, you know exactly what's waiting for you in the last rounds. And if it's 3 strong opponents, it might seem like a very daunting task. In such situations I think it is very important to remind yourself to take everything one game at a time. It might seem almost impossible to score 3 out of 3 against strong opponents, but if you take it one game at a time, win the first one, win the second one, then suddenly you only need to win one more - much less of a daunting task!
After the first two rounds, I had 9 rounds left and seven of my future opponents were higher rated than me. When I realized that I was about to fall in despair.. but after thinking it through I realized that there are no unbeatable guys there and as long as I take it one game at a time I can do fine. I also told to myself that the first round never happened - I was playing a 10 round tournament and I had 1/1 :) That certainly helped a little bit.
In round 3 I had to play ~2370 IM with black. We are good friends (fun fact - he is the guy in the background of my profile pic here on Chess.com) and we played together in the Istambul Olympiad. He is a very solid player and he had a very good score versus me historically, so playing him with black was no easy task. Before the game I figured that I would of course try to win, but a draw wouldn't be a horrible result. This is how it went:
Pheeeeeeeeeeeeew, what a sigh of relief. I definitely got lucky in this one, but on the other hand, I did everything in my power to create as many problems for him as possible. Salvaging a draw versus such a strong opponent from that horrible position felt great and was a confidence-booster. My play in the opening and middle game was something to forget as soon as possible though..
Round 2 and 3 were played in the same day, so I was heading home after this game. I wasn't sure what to think. 1.5/3 - seemingly alright? But then again, two lower rated opponents already out of the way.. I remember spending the entire evening trying to prepare for my R4 game, while actually I was barely paying any attention to my Chessbase screen and was just trying to figure out how many points I need to score from my remaining rounds for this tournament to be a relative-success. That is NOT something that you should do. At the time it seemed like a good idea, but now I realize that it was a very stupid thing to do - no good can come out of it. If you do these calculations and tell yourself - hey, I need to score 6 out of 8 in the remaining rounds to be happy - it will most likely lead to depression since it will seem like an almost impossible task. If you tell yourself that - hey, I need to score 2 out of 8 in the remaining rounds to be happy - you will be setting yourself up for failure since you can DEFINITELY achieve more than that.
Anyway, in round 4 I had White against a 2400 player who was, at the time, either 16 or 17y.o. The biggest hope of Lithuanian chess at the moment, this kid has been in the top-20 in his age group in the world for years. One year he had 7/7 in the World Championship in his age group but then collapsed psychologically and lost 4 games in a row.. That should paint you a good picture - a very talented guy who can be beastly when he is in form, but who's biggest problem is psychology. Somehow I had pretty nice results versus him historically (even though I think he is a better player than me) so I was cautiously optimistic about my chances. Again, I was going to go for a win, but I felt like draw wouldn't be so bad. This is how it went:
Bittersweet feeling after this game. Granted, a draw against 2400 is not bad, but I was a bit sad about not getting any sort of advantage with white. Felt kind of impotent, teethless.. But then I realized that I got two much higher rated guys out of the way with 1 out of 2, definitely not a bad result! So I had 2 out of 4 at this point, with seven rounds to go, 3 GMs and two IMs still waiting.. Not the best situation to be in, but after that dreadful first round it could have also been much worse. I tried to focus on the positive - I did have 2/3 in the last three rounds with two of my opponents being rated at around 2400. Better than expected I would say!
The middle of the tournament is always very important in Round Robin's, and in my next four rounds I was about to face two GMs and two IM's. When I realized this fact after getting home after round 4 I felt that I am starting to get really anxious. What if I scored 0/4..? It was not inconceivable, after all they were all much higher rated than me! 2/8 would be absolutely disastrous.. As usual, my family and my fiancee where there to help and support me psychologically and I was looking at my last seven rounds with grim determination - whatever happens, I am not going to let these guys win against me easily!
This is it for Part 2. I am going to do my best to try to fit this in to five parts so that it is not TOO dragged out. As usual, let me know what you think in the comment section. Any comments, suggestions and questions are all very welcome!
Best of luck at the boards,
TVEDAS is out.