Whissell - Martchenko, 4th Round, PWC Toronto Open 2009


After just having won the SWRR2009 with a score of 12.0/12.0 it's time for a reality check. Sudbury does have a good amount of challenge for the improving player, but aside from NM/GMC Bob Kiviaho and myself, there are no active experts or masters floating around that are willing to play on a regular basis. Even Bob only plays in a single tournament all year! That is why, once the the time comes, you have to test your metal against the players in Toronto if you really think you've got some skills and live in Ontario.

I know a lot of local players, including myself at one point, believe themselves to be so good as to simply automatically dominate local players and then be ready to tackle the big T.O. But I must caution them - it took me a long time before I got to the point where I was regularly winning against local club players. In fact there are some rather deadly local players, who can play certain positions with uncanny accurasy. Joe Dumontelle beat me 4 games in a row at one point and completely dominated our one-on-one results until just recently. I had to learn to play different types of positions and not just rely on theory to stand up to players with skills in unusual positions they deemed there own. I had to learn to play chess.

A lot of young players think they can memorize their way to wins, or that if Rybka tells them they missed a big win they are on the right track - but these guys are clueless. Ditch the theory at club level and learn to play chess. Forget about endless variations and just aim for equality out of the opening, perhaps more if your opponent is generous. I think people dont get that at club level what wins (besides tactical know-how) is the ability to play positions. The typical theory boob (of which sadly I used to belong) will only know how to get a good position. Its almost comical, because they will often achieve great positions through memorization and then simply fall apart the second they have to solve problems on there own. I'm glad I'm not at that juncture anymore, and I think thats why I scored so well against some pretty darn good club players.

My advice to players who wish to learn how to actually play chess mimics that of my former coach Bob: Annotated Games! Play over them and try to guess the moves that top players will come up with. Any great artist begins by copying others, even if it is copying nature.

Here is an example of what not to copy. The following game is an excellent performance by Alex Martchenko on how to deal with the no-theory crowd. The next level for me has finally begun, and now that I know how to play positions, I should get busy on theory. Watch as Alex bashes my Closed Sicilian with no remorse.