Feeling My Fears … And Doing It Anyway

Feeling My Fears … And Doing It Anyway

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This is it, guys! Tomorrow I will compete in the Canadian Open 2022, my first tournament since 2011! Exciiiting! And … downright scaaaryyy! “Oh, why so?”, you might ask. Well, where to begin? Oh, here:


Every once in a while, a mom needs a break from her family. She is exhausted and needs quiet, alone time. So, what do my mommy-friends do? They go to a spa resort nearby, or even Costa Rica, all by themselves to rejuvenate. I always wanted to do it too but never did … until now. But where did I go? Hamilton! A small adjacent town with a population of about 580,000. To relax how exactly? By playing chess! In short, COMPLETELY nuts!

And this tournament is a GIANT. 9 rounds with 90/40 + 30min + 30 sec’s increment time control. And on top of that, there is no U2000 section like I thought there would be. It’s totally OPEN. Maybe I’ll face a GM!


Here are some facts about me:

- I stopped actively pursuing/studying chess in 2001. Everything before that, you can read here

- I played in a total of 6 tournaments between 2001 and 2011. Not a single tournament since then.

- Last time I played in 2011, I performed so terribly (due to lack of practice), I vowed to never compete again!  My CFC rating dropped to 1854.

- In June 2022, I changed my mind.

- Between 2011 and 2020 I played almost no chess at all! Was busy with my career, making babies, and taking care of everything.

- I have two (super cute) little kids. I’ve never been away from them for THAT long!

- In the summer of 2020 I started playing casual, occasional online chess.

- I love chess!

So here I am, folks. Standing at the edge of a giant cliff. The water at the bottom is cold, deep, and unknown. I don’t know if I can swim. It’s been WAY too long!

Throughout May and June, I was trying to decide – to play or not to play? My main concerns were (and still are):

1)      Do I have the stamina to sit through a 4 - 6 hour game? What about two such games in a day?

2)      Do I have mental strength? Do I have the physical strength?

3)      What if I lose ALL my games?

The Decision – Tell Me Truth, Tell Me Lies, Just Speak to Me

While I was “sleeping” on my decision, I consulted a Tarot Card reader. Wow, wow, hold your skepticism! For fun! I did it for fun! My friends saw him. Why should I be left out? And it was AMAZING!

I can’t tell you everything he told me, but one message was clear:  I THRIVE on adventures and I need more of them in my life! Did he read my last blog on my OTB adventures, or what? Haha. Hello Hamilton! ... And then he said: “Olya - feel your fear and do it anyway!”

So, yes, I gotta do this before life’s ups and downs harden my soul. Before the years wear me down. And while I still have June in my heart …

Making The Fiction Come True

I keep telling myself not to worry about my performance at this tournament. I am here to break the ice! To break the fears and “I don’t think I can or should” mindset. I am here to place myself on a map!

I have friends from 20 years ago, who refuse to enter tournaments now because they are afraid their ratings will go down after all this time of inactivity. I’m worried too, but I’ve accepted it. Our ratings from 20 years ago reflect our strengths from 20 years ago. These ratings are no longer meaningful today. Furthermore, chess ratings don’t reflect who we are as individuals. I’m still Olya from the block!

And if I look at this tournament as one, big adventure, as an unforgettable experience in life, and not as a serious competition, then I’m not scared at all! I am, essentially, about to go and turn my partly fictional story – the Badass Woman, into reality. I am both Emma and Galina in one! How ironic that I wrote that story back in January thinking that mayyybeee … one day …  And TODAY is that “one day!” I am here on “vacation” to spend some alone time and play lots of chess. And that, my friends, is exciting!

Ok, enough of random mumbling.

I’m disabling all the comments, turning off all my notifications, taking a deep breath, and plunging in!

Former Canadian Girls Chess Champion (1999 tied for 1st, 2001 1st place)

Busy mom of two

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