Trip report: Lithuanian Chess Championship 2013 PART 2
you can find part 1 of this tournament report at http://www.chess.com/blog/TVEDAS/tournament-report-lithuanian-chess-championship-2013-part-1
After winning round 2 I was getting some of my pre-tournament confidence back. The situation was not ideal, of course, but my play in round 2 gave me some hope that if I continue that level of play I can do well.
Let's talk about the psychological aspect of round-robin tournaments a bit. I think it is extremely important to constantly work with yourself psychologically in round-robins. It is of course also important in Swiss tournaments, but the fact that you don't know what awaits you as far as opponents go makes it a lot different. If you have 4 out of 6 in a 9 round Swiss, you might get 3 strong opponents, or 2 strong and one weaker opponent, or 2 weaker opponents and one stronger one.. you get the point. If you have 4 out of 6 in a 9 round round-robin tournament, you know exactly what's waiting for you in the last rounds. And if it's 3 strong opponents, it might seem like a very daunting task. In such situations I think it is very important to remind yourself to take everything one game at a time. It might seem almost impossible to score 3 out of 3 against strong opponents, but if you take it one game at a time, win the first one, win the second one, then suddenly you only need to win one more - much less of a daunting task!
After the first two rounds, I had 9 rounds left and seven of my future opponents were higher rated than me. When I realized that I was about to fall in despair.. but after thinking it through I realized that there are no unbeatable guys there and as long as I take it one game at a time I can do fine. I also told to myself that the first round never happened - I was playing a 10 round tournament and I had 1/1 :) That certainly helped a little bit.
In round 3 I had to play ~2370 IM with black. We are good friends (fun fact - he is the guy in the background of my profile pic here on Chess.com) and we played together in the Istambul Olympiad. He is a very solid player and he had a very good score versus me historically, so playing him with black was no easy task. Before the game I figured that I would of course try to win, but a draw wouldn't be a horrible result. This is how it went:
Pheeeeeeeeeeeeew, what a sigh of relief. I definitely got lucky in this one, but on the other hand, I did everything in my power to create as many problems for him as possible. Salvaging a draw versus such a strong opponent from that horrible position felt great and was a confidence-booster. My play in the opening and middle game was something to forget as soon as possible though..
Round 2 and 3 were played in the same day, so I was heading home after this game. I wasn't sure what to think. 1.5/3 - seemingly alright? But then again, two lower rated opponents already out of the way.. I remember spending the entire evening trying to prepare for my R4 game, while actually I was barely paying any attention to my Chessbase screen and was just trying to figure out how many points I need to score from my remaining rounds for this tournament to be a relative-success. That is NOT something that you should do. At the time it seemed like a good idea, but now I realize that it was a very stupid thing to do - no good can come out of it. If you do these calculations and tell yourself - hey, I need to score 6 out of 8 in the remaining rounds to be happy - it will most likely lead to depression since it will seem like an almost impossible task. If you tell yourself that - hey, I need to score 2 out of 8 in the remaining rounds to be happy - you will be setting yourself up for failure since you can DEFINITELY achieve more than that.
Anyway, in round 4 I had White against a 2400 player who was, at the time, either 16 or 17y.o. The biggest hope of Lithuanian chess at the moment, this kid has been in the top-20 in his age group in the world for years. One year he had 7/7 in the World Championship in his age group but then collapsed psychologically and lost 4 games in a row.. That should paint you a good picture - a very talented guy who can be beastly when he is in form, but who's biggest problem is psychology. Somehow I had pretty nice results versus him historically (even though I think he is a better player than me) so I was cautiously optimistic about my chances. Again, I was going to go for a win, but I felt like draw wouldn't be so bad. This is how it went: