Slow swiss 10 - Round 1 -- Ruy Lopez and Cris Angel -- Match made in heaven
So, with my lousy rating (out of 57 players in this Slow Swiss, I'm #57 -- cripes), in a first round, I'm paired with someone much stronger. There are no expectations that I will win -- in fact, that's supremely unrealistic to think.
So if you lost, Cris Angel, why is it a match made in Heaven?
Because I fulfilled ALL of my goals.
When I play a stronger player, especially a much stronger player, my goal isn't necessarily to win. I'll list my goals:
1. Focus as much as possible. Feel like I'm doing my best given my strength and abilities.
2. Do NOT give the opponent an easy win. Make the opponent work for it.
3. Survive the opening.
4. FORGET the past. If I mess up, forget it. We can't turn back the clock. It's a new position, we have to deal with it and make the best of it.
I did that!! All of them! So, that said, this is a very nice "victory" for me, even if I didn't get the point. THIS is what it's about. Trying my best, working as hard as I can, focusing. It was an excellent game against an opponent who was gracious in winning and very kind.
Sooooo..... Upon seeing who my opponent would be in round 1, my teammates in Art of War were wonderful enough to help me prepare. We did our homework and saw that Strickland often plays the Ruy Lopez.
I LOVE the Ruy. It's my favorite opening as white.
Nevertheless, in the back of my mind, wondering if my opponent was ALSO doing homework, I wondered if he might try something else knowing that Ruy Lopez is my favorite. I was afraid he'd try the Sicililan knowing that I hate it. Opponents have done that to me before and I've very quickly lost. With that in mind, I ALSO did some practice with that opening as well. IF I choose to play e4 as my opening, I will have to face the fact that some players are going to choose to play the Sicilian. So I don't have to like it, but I'd better learn to deal with it.
See the following games that I did in preparation for this match:
Practicing Sicillian: http://www.chess.com/blog/Dr_Cris_Angel/cris-angel-claws----an-exercise
I did focus more on the Ruy, however.
So, as you can see, both Dacster13 and Gunners2004 played some practice matches with me. In addition, Gunners2004 and I have worked on the Ruy Lopez previously. During the week before this match, however, I did some other prepatory activities. JRTK73 directed me towards one of the chess.com instructional videos that discusses the Ruy Lopez and JRTK73 also taught me the importance of playing c3. I didn't understand why and it was explained to me very well. I hope you don't mind, RandomJeff, but your explanation stuck best, namely, "to create a hidey hole for your bishop" so it won't get trapped via the "Noah's Ark". :) Lesson well learned, thank you.
Dacster13 and I also got together on two separate occasions, met at an analysis board in live and we went over some of the main ideas of the Ruy and the meaning behind the moves. Dex even went so far as to create a forum topic just for me where he very simply explained the main moves and the meaning behind each of them.
These all proved to be invaluable tools.
You might be saying, "But Cris Angel, you LOST!? How did all of that help you?"
It helped a LOT, let me tell you. I made it further than I usually would. Strickland also told me that I did NOT make it easy (goal #2) and agreed with Gunners2004 that I showed "claws and teeth". These are the steps that I must go through to become a better player.
Strickland also gave me one of the nicest compliments that I think I can get from a player. Specifically, he said that I was playing a LOT stronger than my rating suggested.
So with all that, here is the game. I had a lot of fun in this game. Cuddly thank you to Strickland as well as my wonderful teammates for encouraging me, believing in me and helping me to prepare for this match. I hope I did you all proud!