Fatigue Factor

Nov 21, 2009, 3:22 PM |
Many years ago while playing backgammon I heard of a player by the name of 'Ezra' who was alledged to be the best money player in the world. He never played in tournaments, only cash games, so there was very little known about him. Sometime later I read an interview with him in a magazine in which he said he liked to watch novice players because they had no preconceived ideas and he could possibly learn new ideas from them.
I find it interesting to listen to those new to chess express their feelings for the same reasons. Unlike us veterans, they have nothing with which to compare their experience and, therefore, have fresh ideas. While working at the Atlanta Chess & Game Center, I always found it interesting to listen to these newcomers to the world of chess.
I listened to a gentleman in his early sixties talk about his tournament experience in the Monday night tournament at a coffee shop Thursday evening. His name is Mark Canon and he has recently moved back to his home state and decided to come back to the Royal game. What struck me was how he talked about the extreme fatigue he felt as the evening wore on, and especially after the conclusion of the tournament. I recall him saying it would take some getting used to and that he would probably have to get into better shape. Although he did not do too well, he did not use fatigue as an excuse; rather as a fact. I mentioned as a mitigating factor the fact that the time had recently changed and to his body it was one hour later than the clock.
I recall a conversation I had with one of the top players at the Monday night event some months ago in which he mentioned how early most of the players had to rise and what a hardship it is to be playing chess when one is usually winding down from the day, getting ready for the sleep period. I reflected upon a conversation I had with Daaim Shabazz, who produces the award winning website www.chessdrum.net/, in which he mentioned he takes a half-point bye in the first round because he has to rise early and his body is shutting down about the time his brain needs to 'gear-up' for the Friday night round.
I read with interest the comments of a chess parent who also plays in the tournaments he travels to with his son, A Parent's Perspective on King's Island by Mark Schein. His comments on how exhausting a weekend chess tournament can be brought back bad memories. For example, Mark writes, "Although Aaron was up a pawn, it was now 9:00 pm and Aaron looked exhausted." That was during the third round of the day and Aaron is quite young. The next morning brought this, "Saturday (I think he means Sunday) morning’s round was at 9:00 am and Aaron seemed somewhat tired." That's the way it is at a five round weekend swiss; one is ALWAYS tired! It requires a tremendous amount of stamina to play five games of chess in 48 hours! I whole-heartedly advocate everyone read this entire article. 
The fatigue factor becomes much more pronounced as one grows older. NM Rex Blalock is living in Portugal and will be moving back home to the great state of Georgia soon. He recently questioned how he will be able to adapt to playing two games a day, as only one gamed is played there.
I have always admired the energy SM Klaus Pohl is still able to put into a chess tournament, calling him the "Victor Korchnoi of Southern Chess." From experience I know how arduous a chess tournament can be. I admire the fact that Andrew Karklins tied for first place in the recently concluded King's Island tournament. I also admire the fact that a player in his sixties, Glen O'Banion, from Louisville, tied for ninth place in the Under 1900 section at the same tournament, with a score of 3-2. Glen played in my tournaments  and was one of the two players who came for what turned out to be my last tournament, playing a two game match with Gentleman David Blanton. They each won one game. Glen told me his rating had recently gone over 1800, but asked me to not put it into print until after he played at King's Island. Although he lost five rating points, at 1808 he is still over 1800! As recently as 2005 Glen was down to around 1500, which means he has gained around three hundred points since then! That's impressive for anyone, but especially so for a Senior! Glen takes his chess seriously and gives hope to all of us Seniors!