Tournament Chess - An Amateur's Story II
After getting demoralized from my first event. It took me nearly a year to get up the guts to play again. I spent a few months in Cincinnati, OH and played individual rated games at a club in a high school. At this point I had a provisional rating of 1034. For you fellow beginners out there like me, your USCF rating will be considered provisional until you have played 20 or 25 games, I believe, not sure which it is these days. One important thing to note, is that while you will have a 'P' next to your rating on the USCF site, you may or may not have it next to your name on the pairings at a tournament. So your opponent may not know that you are provisional, unless you tell him or he looks you up online. Back to Ohio..
I believe the games were G/60 or G/45. Again, for beginners, this refers to the time controls of the game. So G/60 would mean that both players start with 60 minutes on their clock (a 2-hour game potentially). If you are able to find a place where you can play individual rated games like these, I highly recommend that as a starting place for your 'tournament', OTB, or US rated chess career. You get the experience of playing a game that "counts", which can be nerve-wracking, but you don't have to face a 2 or 3 day event right away which believe me, you're not ready for. I couldn't believe how nervous I was. All I wanted to do was get my first win out of the way to relieve some pressure. It's just a game and should be fun, but for some reason I have a major pitfall of putting too much pressure on myself to succeed. My first game there, I played white against a decent player who chose the French defence. It was a good game, I reached a better position, up an exchange in the middlegame but at the cost of an offsides Queen which never returned to the game. I eventually lost the game by checkmate, sigh. The following week I would finally score my first USCF win, beating a low-rated player in simple fashion and finally relieving myself that I wasn't a complete idiot.
If you take anything away from this post, just remember that individual rated games are a great way for you to get your feet wet in rated games as opposed to big, long, expensive tournaments.
In my next blog, I promise I will finally post games, since they are from a more recent tournament, and I can share more experience on tournament preparation.