My Path to FM - Week 15/16
So it's been a few months since I set the goal of moving from NM to FM. I've noticed some interesting changes over the years. I remember in one of my first tournaments as a 1700 player I sacked a bishop on h7 (Greek gift) against some Expert and it just blew my mind that he was able to defend and win. Then a few years later as an Expert myself I realized that finding forced moves is the easy part. The problem is when your NM opponents play as if you don't even exist and suddenly you're forced to make difficult decisions about prophlyaxis and long term planning. Now I'm a fairly strong NM and as I play against Experts or weaker masters I find it funny watching them agonize as they try to find the correct plan in ultra rich positions that I've been playing for years and that they've never really studied before. And that's when I realize that the IM's that I'm going after feel the exact same way about me. On the other hand, at least nobody is just rolling over me with mechanical moves, as some GM's were able to do a year or two ago. At least now I am familiar with enough stuff that I can lose in more heartbreaking manner.
I've been around long enough now to know that's what progress feels like.
Oh and one other update for you all. I played against some 12 year old in Guelph in January rated around 2000 and was all mad at myself because I couldn't beat his KID. Well... it's May now and that kid is 2300, so I don't feel so bad. What a monster...
I have a tournament coming up next weekend. It's 4 hours south in Toronto. It's the Ontario Open. The sweet thing about the Ontario open is that rather than it being an under 2000 section that accepts some 1900+ players, this tournament has a 2200 rating floor, and big enough prizes that not too many players choose to play up. That means that for the first time in ages I'm not one of the top seeds. Pros: If I have a good tournament I'm a 2400 player. Cons: None. Well, I don't get to play my first round on a fancy stage for all the fans to admire, but that stage is always farther from the bathroom anyway, so I'm cool.
My approach to preparing for a big tournament has kind of changed over the last few years. It used to involve me frantically trying to close up holes in my repertoire. These days I'm pretty confident in my repertoire and I even have secondary lines in case I'm afraid of prep for one reason or another. Now my preparation consists of checking out the games of my opponents and looking for holes in their preparation or positions where they score especially poorly.
Anyway, I'll leave it at that for now! Next weekend I'll try to blog my games as soon as I finish playing them.