Huh? The Genesis of 'Easy Wins'
After an invigorating win, next up was a 1 game-day, and the game was scheduled for 5 pm. This indicated an opportunity for some serious opening preparation. Although pairings were up in the evening, giving lots of time, my preparation did not really take off for a while. My opponent seemed to play the e6 a6 Sicilian as black all the time, but I was not making great progress against it. I couldn't decide what line to play. Slept on it, got up, still did not know what to do, kept banging my head against the opening. Then something very lucky happened.
GM Dzindzichashvili called me up about something with video lessons. I mentioned I was studying and confused about what opening to play, and he asked me about it and then offered to give me a line to play! Wow! I was really grateful, and he spent a while teaching me a whole new line. This was perfect, because it would mean my opponent would not be prepared for me (as he would be if I repeated one of the lines I had played in the past), and I had some understanding of the line, because I had superb GM explanations, rather than just looking at games in a database, or playing out moves by myself analyzing something.
Shortly before I left to play the round, I had a strong feeling that Bercys would play a particular response to this variation (there was no data in the database from which to know what he had done in the past). I went back to check that line, and realized there was something I did not understand about it. So quickly I came up with something else to do against this line. That is in fact the opening variation we then got in the game. In the end, we did not go down any of the awesome variations that GM Dzindzichashvili had explained to me. But the whole experience had given me a lot of confidence, a sense of what I was doing that day, and that my play was based upon having worked. I think those factors definitely help one play well. My opponent may also have picked up on my confidence, since just as we were getting to the end of the opening line, he suddenly had a strange freakout:
He had played his moves just as quickly as I up to this point. But now he started making sour faces, looking very uncomfortable. He has two "obvious" or natural moves available in this position, that I had seen in the database: O-O and b5 (and had I not seen the database, I'm saying these are the two moves I would have considered instantly). But after 15 minutes, he came up with something quite unusual. The game continued:
I worked really hard during this game, even though I was winning after my opponent's blunder on move 14. He was always going to lose a piece after that point, but I had to search through a mass of positions where he would get 2 or even 3 pawns for the piece, and I had to pick out those which I thought I would be able to convert. As the game progressed I had to be more and more efficient in my thought process as time became a concern for me. But I cleared all the hurdles, and won the game pretty quickly. In the end, I did not play any spectacular moves, and it looks like a pretty straightforward win, what some people sometimes call a "gift." But I think we see here a whisper of the possibility that one earns one's gifts. Preparing for the game, raring to go out of the gates, feeling good to go: all of this is very important for my best performance, so if I take the time and effort to put myself in this frame of my mind, I've partly earned a good result that day. By contrast, my opponent never seemed very 'into' this particular game. He walked around, and only appeared to work on one move, the mysterious 11...Nd7 innovation. So I would say if you stay focused, and work hard, you are bound to encounter others who, on one day or just on one move, lose that focus. And then you'll pick up an 'easy' win. I think you can count on such points here and there with a certain consistency; I've given out such points myself in the past. Stop giving. Start receiving.
Next up: Day 5, Rounds 7+8: "A Wrong Attitude and A Wrong Approach."