Seven Tips On Preparing For A Tournament!
What to do just before a tournament?

Seven Tips On Preparing For A Tournament!

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Hello & Namaste! 
I'm sharing some of the tips extracted from my experience in chess life. What if you had seven days to prepare for a tournament? 
I think you could make the most of the time you have before a tournament by following simple tiny steps to ensure that you are in a good state to play in a tournament. 

I'm sharing an extract from one of my articles, but I will end by sharing how I came up with these tips. 

1. Register Past Lessons

It is important to go over your recent games, revise the lessons and make a list of mistakes. Use prompt questions to attain clarity. For example:

Mistakes:
What was the nature of my mistakes? Was there a pattern in them?
Did the mistakes occur in the opening? Did the mistakes happen during the time trouble?
Did I repeat any of the past mistakes?

Openings:
Did I go wrong in any of the openings?
Did my openings influence the direct result?
Did I understand the nuances of the openings that I employed in the previous event?

Thinking:
Did I overlook opponent’s key ideas and resources? (Estimate/Compare the intensity to see if your awareness has improved)
On what kind of moves did I spend most of the time?
What kind of decisions were the toughest to make?

Others:
Did my thoughts stop me from making the best moves?
Was I nervous during the event?

You can add your own questions to the list

Knowing yourself can aid you well to make better decisions in the future. This process stamps a seal of clarity for the mind to go ahead and play freely. Uncertainty and vagueness may derail the mind, but clarity could help in focusing on what is necessary.

2. Take a long walk
I could have said that you need to invest time on physical preparation, but that might seem too much for some players depending on the time they have. The best and the easiest way is to walk in the morning or in the evening. During these walks, you can either listen to your thoughts or guide yourself. Walking in the garden or a fixed track is preferred so that you don’t get carried away by your thoughts and miss the signal. If you like jogging, you could do that too.


3. Orient your chess antenna

Pick up simple puzzles from tactic servers or puzzle books, magazines and solve them without the board. After 30 minutes of solving, switch to board and solve positions from any tactical exercise book.
Puzzle rush battles, puzzle rush on chess.com are some of the tools. But, solve something from a book as well. 

The basic idea is to exercise your reflex and be ready to sense any danger.

Don’t beat yourself on not solving the exercises accurately. Instead, just practice being more alert. If you judge yourself based on how you fare in practice, you may not be motivated enough to continue working in the long run. So, develop patience, accept mistakes and keep training.
Practice solving every day even if it is just for a few minutes.

Pick up simple puzzles from tactic servers or puzzle books, magazines and solve them without the board. After 30 minutes of solving, switch to board and solve positions from any tactical exercise book.

A friend of mine suggested chess.com’s tactical trainer. You could try that too! The basic idea is to exercise your reflex and be ready to sense any danger.

Don’t beat yourself on not solving the exercises accurately. Instead, just practice being more alert. If you judge yourself based on how you fare in practice, you may not be motivated enough to continue working in the long run. So, develop patience, accept mistakes and keep training.
Practice solving every day even if it is just for a few minutes.

4. Make a Plan
Going without a plan is a plan too. But, if you are ready to take control of things that you can – then you might want to think about the openings you wish to play in the tournament. You should be asking the following questions to yourself:

1. What should be my response to 1.e4?
2. What should be my response to 1.d4?
3. What should be my response to 1.c4?/Reti/Torre/Trompowsky?

What should be my primary opening as white?
Here is an example:
Suppose, I want to go with 1…e6 against e4 and Queens Gambit against 1.d4 and 1.c4 e6 against the English – I will have to revise the basic opening lines /variations and have the list of the opening fresh in the mind. Have at least one response ready against each of the questions. This keeps the nervousness associated with the openings at bay.

Once you have a clear plan, go through some of the latest TOP games on the openings. You could obtain games by going to Mark Crowther’s amazing website www.theweekinchess.com where you get a new collection of games every week.

#5. Revise theoretical endings
You can’t predict if you will have a rook ending in the event, but you can do what is possible – Revise simple rook endings before the event to not miss a draw or a win. 100 Endgames you must know by Jesus De l Villa or Dvoretsky’s Endgame manual contain good material on the subject.

6. Employ the tournament routine
It is very important to take a look at the schedule and make a guess of the possible schedule of the tournament considering the time control and the weather of the tournament place. If the tournament has double rounds, practice the routine at home. For example, if the tournament game starts at 9, wake up at 6.30 or 7. Have breakfast and be ready by 8.30 am. If the next round starts at 3 pm, it means you have only 20 minutes for a power nap. Schedule a power nap at around 1.50 pm or 2 pm and start freshening up after 20 minutes. This simple concept of employing a routine equips your mind to serve you better!

7.Pack TWO days in advance
If you are leaving on 23rd, pack on 21st. Make sure you arrange everything and pack TWO days in advance. This saves a lot of last minute hassles and also gives you a complete ONE day rest. It is such a cool way to treat yourself to some rest. 

How did I come up with these tips?

There was a time in my life where I kept playing one tournament after the other without realizing that I had not given time to myself to learn the lessons from the past games. So, I made it a point to register the past lessons

In some of the tournaments, I used to get tired after the first half of the event. In the next events, I instilled the habit of walking / jogging every day irrespective of where I was playing. This gave me more energy and helped me live better. 

Sometimes, missing tactics cost me dearly. In addition to that, I felt my opponents were doing better than me in the last segment especially in tactics. So, I decided to solve positions every day so that I stay alert. It is not that I don't miss tactics, but the mistakes are reduced to a great degree.

There are different approaches I have employed in case of openings, but having a clear plan prior to the event gives some clarity to the mind. This is an optional approach, I have found it useful and I also feel that there are some exceptions when a change in the opening is welcome. 

You can never really predict if your game will go into an ending, but we can at least ensure that the basics are right. So, revising the basic theoretical endgames helped me to save a few draws in time trouble. 

I played a few tournaments abroad. In the first few events, I did have difficulty to adapt quickly to the new time zone and food. So, I decided to check the schedule and plan my meals etc beforehand so that it takes less time and energy during the event. Going further, I also decide the clothes beforehand so that it doesn't take my will to decide. This was inspired by Mark Zuckerberg's idea. 

And the idea of packing in advance was suggested by a chess friend online. She used to do it herself and found it comforting to have one extra day off before going for an event. It has been working well for me. My score has been 3/5 in this category. I did pack in advance before playing three of my events in the last 5 that I have played. 


I did a video on this topic a few days back: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EZwilfhcL6I&t=

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