An interesting challenge I faced while playing for San Francisco in the Pro Chess League was time management. Balancing a heavy course load at UC Berkeley and preparing sufficiently to play well in my games was a tricky and challenging task that I enjoyed. Before we delve into some games, some things to note:
1. My 2 year old opening repertoire held up better than expected. Part of this is because I designed my repertoire to not have too many lines.As a result, I did not forget too many nuances in the opening lines (Unfortunately not the various move orders in the Italian Game). Additionally, a good portion of my repertoire don't traverse the most frequently played lines, meaning that developments in the main lines over the past year that I missed are unlikely to affect me if my opponent used a new line.
2. Rustiness leads to hesitation in making moves. When given the choice between two or three moves with a few seconds to pull the trigger, my rustiness led me to hesitate and choose a sub-optimal solution. I would then miss tactical shots, though my strategic play was good as before.
3. Preparation consisted of taking a look at the opponent's opening lines in Chessbase, then reviewing my opening preparation for those lines, and looking at games in those lines to get a feel of how I should play. Additionally, I played a few warm up bullet or blitz games, and made sure I was as well rested as I could, which meant scheduling my homework around my games. Finally, I would get myself in the mindset to play, mostly by trying to relax and not move too slow. Easier said than done!
Below are some of my most interesting games this season.
First off is a Chebanenko Slav against Nyzhnyk that turned out better than anticipated, though I was unable to put significant pressure on my opponent.
The second game is an interesting game in the 1.Nf3 opening as both sides attempted to outwit the other. I did miss a win at the end under time pressure with the black pieces.
The final game is against Gabriel Sargissian, top 100 in the world. I swore I could hold the resulting queen ending during the game even under time pressure, unfortunately this did not turn out to be the case.
I enjoyed playing for SF in the PRO Chess League, as it allowed me to play against players that would be very difficult to meet under normal conditions in a tournament over the board. If someone does not have too much time to study for chess, using a efficient opening repertoire and pre-game routine can make competition a more pleasant experience.