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Playing a GM over the board

-waller-
Apr 7, 2017, 4:50 PM 6

Hi all,

It's been a long time since I wrote anything for this blog. That owes itself to a few reasons:

1) Preparation - I'm trying to ramp up my participation in strong over-the-board tournaments recently, and don't want to make it too easy for my opponents to find all my games/openings I'm currently playing etc. Hence, I do intend to stop posting them all (just in case)!

2) Chess.com - since version 3, it seems that ordinary members blogs have been hidden away in favour of appeasing titled players (as I write this, the V3 blogs page is essentially a gallery of the same picture of Attila Turzo!) Whilst titled player content is good, I also enjoy reading ordinary players reports/games etc, and I noticed a drop-off in readers once V3 was made the primary version (I still use V2 - far more functional IMO). Hence, if I did have the urge to blog more frequently again in the future, I'll likely migrate my blog somewhere else.

3) Work - I'm studying for a PhD currently - this involves a lot of reading/writing - I'm trying to do more things in my free time that don't involve computers! (Like playing chess on a real board!)

Anyway, with that out of the way, I did want to share a recent experience of mine with you all, in which I faced a GM over the board (for the first time in a tournament game). I'll try to share my honest thoughts during the game, with some analysis and background. Hopefully it will make an entertaining read!

This game took place in Round 4/5 at the recent Edinburgh Congress, a reasonably strong open tournament in Scotland's capital. Edinburgh is a simply beautiful city, I was looking to play in some tournaments, and when the dates worked out it wasn't hard to decide to play! So I travelled up with some friends to find out what Scottish chess had to offer.

I got 2.5/3 from the first 3 rounds (a draw on the Friday night, 2 wins on the Saturday) so was expecting a tough pairing on Sunday morning (this didn't stop me from sampling some Scottish whisky that evening!) However, I only checked the pairings around an hour and a half before the round start, to see that I had white against GM Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant. Ketevan is a Georgian-born Scottish grandmaster with a lot of experience, and I knew she had beaten many strong players in the past (Nakamura, for example!)

Hence, I decided just to try and play a normal game, and not to go down too quickly! Although I never like to lose, I was at least reasonably satisfied to make the game last as long as it did - I was super-impressed with Ketevan's fighting ability to get the win, which taught me a lot about top players.

Time controls were 90 minutes, with 30 seconds increment per move.

The game was a lesson for sure on how top players will fight and fight. This was the last game of the round to finish, so naturally my demise was spectated by around 20-30 people.

I managed a ridiculous draw in the last round (despite being -15 at one point) so finished with 3/5. Shout out to Nikola, our university club president who managed to tie for first in his section with 4/5! And to Sam with a respectable 2.5/5 in his section (despite hanging his queen whilst completely winning).

Thanks for reading!

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