Do you remember that feeling when you got into your first tournament... How you were looking forward for it... How painful every loss was... Or how nice it felt to become positioned in top half of the tournament...
Well, a month ago I would have to say no to all the questions. And even today I can't answer all of them with yes.
But even if you are a youngster who doesn't know about how a first tournament looks like, or a veteran who wants to reminisce about good old times.. Or just somebody who is interested (or bored) enough to read my first tournament's experience, you're all welcome here :) The only ones who aren't welcome here are players who seek analysed games. Some are analysed a bit, some more, some aren't at all...
The tournament action was held in Prague, from 9th to 16th April and it's a part of Czech tour event which was basically a connection of several chess events over Czech republic :)
In Prague, 4 tournaments were held. Tournament A, where an IM norm was possible to gain, B, which was rather for fun... And C was a rapid tournament... And of course, there was one blitz tournament too.
I have to say it's an international event and the tournament B, in which I took part, was totally dominated by foreign players (first Czech was 6th and in top 10 there were only 3 Czechs).
I think I have learned a lot in this tournament, even in my first game against a 1700+ player from Dominican Republic. I just have to note that I don't intend to do a thourough analysis in the games, but rather I'd like to describe how does it feel in the tournament.
What did I learn from this game?
A very good lesson...
Don't go to the zoo before the tournament!
Unfortunately for me, that day was the hottest one for all the summer (36°C)... And I spent all of it (before the tournament) in a Prague zoo. When I came to the tournament, I was half dead. Luckily the air conditioning there was good, so the tourmanent wasn't lost at all :)
The day after wasn't that hot and I felt somewhat refreshed... And I decided to not repeat the same mistake twice... Well, i wouldn't want to visit zoo more than once in a while anyway, I am not that interested in animals :)
I arrived surprisingly cool though and pretty much ready to play my second round. This time against a 1600 Czech player.
While my play was absolutely unsound (unsound is a weak word... Totally insane!), I somehow managed to gather a win by a crucial blunder of Black... But that is number one rule of gamblers - Who risks nothing, gains nothing. And somehow I am more willing to accept a risky play if it can give me a chance to win, then play a sound game, but maybe even lose...
But craziness wasn't the case of my next round though. The next round, although it was a fight, it was not so violent... And the result was pretty peaceful. This was the first time I became nervous, but,... I cooled myself down soon.
Somehow, my opponent was glad that she drew with me, because yesterday I won against a 1600, but well... If the game is equal, I can't just cast a wwin out of nowhere, I'm not Tal :)
Maybe I could play better somewhere in this one... BUT... At the same day, I was playing another game!
After 4 rounds 2 points. But the tournament has been pretty interesting so far, although in this draw my opponent helped me pretty greatly. But I have seen that one pawn difference still doesn't necessary mean total trouble.
Next day a fifth round came... Undoubtedly no better than my first one.
It couldn't be helped though... On my way to the next round I caught a headache which did not want to let go even hours after the round ended. And when I got a total mind blackout on move 12, it was just over for me...
I lost this round due to a headache, but well... Chess games are too dependent on one's current form, so I didn't think of this loss as something that should bother me... After all, there were still 4 rounds to go.
6th round was against a guy who was playing just incedibly slowly! In move 19 he had just 30 minutes left!...
What is the lesson? When you face a totally slow player, just play your game. You might better chances of timing your opponent out. The only mystery is, how did he end with 5 points out of 9...
But next day round 7 came and I decided I'd use my time more... Although that proved to be pretty much unimportant, because I was often just recalculating the same variations, sillily exhausting my brain.
Actually, I could be rather glad for this draw. Not because I was fighting at bottom 5 tables... But because next to me there was a huge distraction and itr took me some time to get used to it.
As for 8th round, I don't think there is too much to say. I hoped for some sort of an interesting fight, but... The only thing which was interesting in whole game was my opponent. A very young girl from Russia, but an incredibly cute one.
It is bad when your opponent has too exposive clothes, but I believe chess ethique forbids it. But fighing against cuteness is way worse... Because no rules can prevent a girl from playing chess just because she is cute. Nevermind that, the fact that I had 3 losses and only one win was pretty irritating... But even worse were 4 draws. I am not used to make so many draws, although it means I played not too worse than my opponent did. But as next game was last, I decided to leave the tournament with either glory or disgrace. Win or loss, or a hard earned draw. Any other results were inacceptable. But somehow, this lasted just two turns, then I panicked a little...
So I leaved the tournament with glory, although due to my gesture if was a little bit foul, although it wasn't the purpose, as I hadn't known that the move which wins at the first glance actually loses at the second one.
The only bad thing that can be said is that I didn't use my time. Only twice my timer went below 60 minutes (once to 50 minutes, second time to 55 minutes). But the fact was, there wasn't often too much to calculate (maybe this is the reason of having so many draws though).
I don't think this will actually be helpful in describing the total atmosphere of a tournament... But everybody feels it differently. I just tried to have fun and I actually had it, so my goal was accomplished. Anyway, if you have never played in a tournament, here are several tips that can help you.
1. Don't exhaust yourselves too much before the game. If you want, you can take some practice, but just not too much. Be sure to get some good night's sleep too, it feels better :) (although once I slept only four hours and didn't notice it at all over the board)
2. The food you bring there isn't that important, I managed without food (I couldn't eat at all anyway). But the most important is to drink alot.. But not stuff like Coca-Cola, my experience with it was that stuff like that worsened my play due to some troubles....
3. If you feel nervous and don't smoke cigarettes to cool yourself down, it can be helpful to find somebody who has returned from smoking. I was nervous only once in the whole tournament, but luckily one of the people sitting next to me was a smoker, so I cooled down thanks to the typical cigarette smell.
4. One pawn doesn't mean the end of the world. Just look for drawing chances if there are some!
5. As long as the time is well spent, even 60 minutes difference doesn't matter. In the worst case when you are short on your time, use your opponent's time.
6. Never forget to write notation! Sometimes I forgot to write one ply and then I had 4 turns totally messed up... Fortunately I managed to recall the missing move.
7. It may be good to write your move down and check if it's good and in the worst case replace it with something else... There is no need to do it on move 1 though :)
8. Find some good action melody which you can play over and over in your head. I was able to manage it all without too many problems, because I was playing piano cover of Pokémon trainer battle theme in my head :)