Road to the first IM norm: Part 1
The 2013 European Team Chess Championship was held in Novotel Centrum hotel in Warsaw, Poland, in November 7th-18th. I was blessed with an opportunity to represent the Lithuanian national team in this competition and everything turned out much better than expected :) But we will get to that in due time!
A couple days before the tournament I've decided to check the list of participants (http://chess-results.com/tnr114411.aspx?lan=1&art=32&flag=30&wi=821) I knew it is going to be a tough tournament, but I didn't realize it will be THAT tough. My team was rated 34th out of 38th participating teams on the starting list and that was with our captain, a 2520 GM, who we knew is not going to play any games, so in reality our rating average was even smaller. I was scared. Who the hell am I going to score points against?! Even though I was playing board 4, the vast majority of my future opponents were going to be GMs. Crap, I thought. Here we go..
We had an 8 hour bus drive from Vilnius to Warsaw and got there in the evening, with the 1st round on the next day. Right before going to bed the pairings were up and we saw that we are playing Greece. Yaaaay! 2564 ELO GM opponent for the first round - what a treat!
Since the rounds started at 3pm local time each day, we had a plenty of time to prepare. I remember being super nervous. Somehow all of my opening knowledge and my general level of play seemed so small compared to that of my opponents.. We went downstairs at around 2.40 pm (zero tolerance rule and all that), passed some metal detectors on our way and finally entered the playing hall. I have to say, the playing conditions were amazing. A lot of space for every player, about 1.5 meters in between the boards, a lot of space to put your stuff on the tables and stuff like that. Very "luxurious" feel to the whole place. That immediately lifted my mood a little bit. I thought, "well, even if I do get slaughtered, at least I will have experienced something that I've never experienced before".. Somehow that calmed me down, and instead of being scared I was now looking forward to the start of the game.
Needless to say, I was crushed after this game. I knew that I was easily winning and let it slip. On top of that, my win would have saved the match, and now we lost 1.5-2.5.. It was a looooooong night that night. I don't remember exactly, but I finally fell asleep somewhere around 4am... But they say that morning is smarter than the evening for a reason. After I woke up I realized that things aren't so bad. We took a really strong team to a test, I had a strong GM outplayed and beaten, so there were a lot of positives. Pairing for Round 2: a Polish team and a 2515 GM on board 4. The things just won't get easier in this tournament, will they.. But that is for the next time!
Thanks for reading, and as usual, comments and suggestions are very welcome.