Maximum Effort

IM dpruess
Aug 3, 2011, 4:13 PM |

[previous round in Biel]

Here is a snippet from my journal:

two games i couldn't finish off, i assessed both to fatigue. in each case i did not use all my time, and did not find the win. especially in the second one, rd 9, i was very conscious of not making a maximum effort.

on the morning of the norm-game with Bok, i woke up too early. i'm tired, but i can't sleep. i want to win, and i'm a little nervous. not afraid of him as a player, bc i did not even look at that many of his games. i'm only worried about myself. i have white and i can play strong this week. but i'm not sure about my nerves. i want to play my best today.

i try to check on my head, how is it today: i go on tactics trainer. solve a bunch, i take it as a very good sign.

I also invested some thought in what opening to play, though I don't want to go into too deep detail on that process here. Suffice it to say that I put my opponent's games into a tree, using Shanky's computer (thanks, Sam), considered more than one opening choice... and then was very happy when I remembered this excellent article! I reviewed it rather briefly, and then did some other things. For example, I had lunch before the game for the first time since the rest day. I was not nervous, but also not relaxed. Sharp, ready. I went to the game a little early, sat down at the board, and started calculating my first moves.

When the round started I noticed one hilarious thing: on the opposite side of the table from me, playing black were a row of my past opponents: Paehtz, Holzke, Khmelniker, Alsina.

Since it took me a few days to get to this blog, I think it's best that I quote more from my journal:

after the game i'm drenched in sweat, and have the same satisfied feeling as after working out to utter exhaustion and then lying on my back. the last game to finish, my opponent fights so hard, it's amazing. i'm impressed by him, but he's almost crying so i say nothing. i can tell he's going to be really good, unlike me.

then it's handshakes and congrats. everyone's so happy :)

i am so sweaty it's really unpleasant. like after the sauna. i feel great cause i know i played my hardest yet this event, and i won't regret anything about this game. and it was just as fun as i thought it was to play chess.

i went down to the arbiter's matter-of-factly and dealt with what i needed to for the room. i felt great but also normal. i achieved my goal of focus.

also i realize my preparation plan for this game was perfect, perfect, perfect.

1) i avoided opening theory, that was good. 2) i avoided spending time prepping that was key, bc i needed energy for today 3) i picked a perfect line for keeping tension.

i put up status "GM norm" online so ppl who were worrying could see that i'd won. it's nice that other people were worried for me. i really wasn't. i thought about the norm a couple times during the game, but really not that many, and thought about enjoying playing chess a couple times more than that. really very focused, my best effort of the event.

Once I got back to the room, I showered from the exertion, and then cooked pasta for the American contingent, while they played and talked chess around our table.

That night I also thought about my game the next day. I still wanted to make the most of being at this tournament, so tomorrow's game would be just as serious for me as today's game had been. I figured that I should use the same preparation as today: very light, pick an opening that I'd like to play, and not study it more than half an hour.

At the end of the evening I showed the first 50 moves of my game to Sam and Marc who had only watched the final denouement. They both complimented the game on its artistic merits, loving the h3 and Nf3-h2-f3 sequences, and the game as a whole. This gave me a great added pleasure, since artistic creation is a huge goal for me in playing chess. 

I also thought about what my goals should be for my future chess play, but that is a discussion for my next blog...