Preparing for the World Open

Jun 27, 2016, 6:27 AM |

This Thursday I'll be flying to Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love, for my second straight World Open. (Apparently, in Greek Philadelphia is literally translated as "brotherly love.")

There won't be much love lost across the chess boards at the World Open, as it is one of the most brutally competitive open tournaments. Players travel from far and wide to compete for the $225,000 in prize money and title norms (in the open section). Last year I scored an amazing 6 of 9 points even though I was one of the lower rated players in the U1800 section, tying for 16th place out of 179 players and missing prize money by only a 1/2 point. (That half point was in the 2nd round where I hallucinated and played an unsound piece sac.) Coming out of last year's World Open, I picked up 94 rating points and hit my personal high rating of 1753!

This year I'll be there for 8 days, first playing in the 9 round WO and then immediately playing in the 5 round WO U2100 Championships. 14 rounds of slow chess and I don't want to go in unprepared.

I'm signed up to play in the U2000 section even though my rating has fallen a bit to 1667. My goal for the year, which sounds a bit silly now, is to hit 1900. I have a long way to go and so playing up in every tournament I have the chance is the only way of possibly making that goal. And, let's admit it, winning a top prize in the class tournaments is more of a lottery than most people want to admit and in a big money tournament all the sandbaggers come out to play. (For instance, take a look at the guy who won the U1800 section last year.)

A Rebuilding Year

If you read my blog regularly, you'll know I've been reworking my game this year. I've retooled with a new white openings and a new opening vs d4. More importantly, I've been working with NM Joel Johnson over the past 3 months to become a stronger attacking player.

This has really upset my game, to be honest. I feel I am playing stronger than ever before but I am also playing in very alien positions where I need to keep constant pressure on my opponent's weak squares, sometimes sacrifice pawns to open lines to the enemy king or gain a few tempos for my building attack. In short, I've been trying to get comfortable accepting certain weaknesses in order to increase my dynamic opportunities. It is a work in progress and the World Open will be a test of whether I've been able to make the transition successfully.

Measure Twice, Cut Once

The past few weeks I've changed up my usual training in order to focus just on preparation for the two tournaments. I've been focusing on tactics, tactics, and more tactics. And  in addition, doing board visualization, calculation, and guess the move exercises. The GTM games are all attacking games in my new opening repertoire, as I try to get my head around keeping the pressure on my opponent and recognizing those critical moments when my opponent's defenses falter.

Here has been my activity the past two weeks.

If you are attending the World Open also, drop me a message. And, good luck!