Beach boy Smerdon wins Bangkok Open and scores his second GM-norm

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The Australian IM David Smerdon, who appeared on this site a couple of times before (e.g. here and here), started playing many tournaments as from January with the aim to score another GM result (he already had one). In Gibraltar, Moscow and Cappelle la Grande he didn't succeed but last week he was very succesful at the Bangkok Chess Club Open. He finished clear first and grabbed his second GM norm with a half point to spare. For ChessVibes David analysed his crucial game against Philippine GM Antonio and reveals the secret of his success.

A few people have asked me why I managed to play so well in Thailand, but so poorly in the big European tournaments (Gibraltar, Essent, Moscow Aeroflot, Cappelle la Grande, etc). A fair question indeed! My average rating over these four tournaments is I think somewhere under 2400 - not so impressive at all. The official answer is that I was just too damn nervous at these events. I'd put a lot of pressure on myself to get the norms while overseas, and travelling all the way to play Moscow only serves to exaggerate this importance. I never relaxed, and the chess games themselves became work, and only a means to the elusive 'norm'. I didn't enjoy playing at all.

Conversely, in Thailand, I was able to relax. I didn't expect anything, and basically treated the tournament as a holiday. I didn't prepare more than 15 minutes for a game, swam every day, ate well, socialised at night, and generally had a good time. While in the other tournaments I'd spend the rest day preparing, in Phuket I spent it in the pool, recovering after partying until dawn the night before. The chess games themselves were exciting because, rather than playing safe, whenever I was faced with a critical decision, I just decided to 'go for it'. In short, I was just enjoying playing chess again. But the real reason I played well in Thailand, of course, is just because I'm a sucker for the beach :)




>> open this game in a separate window

Top final standings:

 1. IM David Smerdon     AUS  2460  7?Ǭ?
 2. GM Rogelio Antonio   PHI  2551   7
 3. GM Ian Rogers        AUS  2522  6?Ǭ?
 4. GM R B Ramesh        IND  2483  6?Ǭ?
 5. GM Dimitri Komarov   OEK  2540  6?Ǭ?
 6. IM Simon Ansell      ENG  2393  6?Ǭ?
 7. Cor van Dongen       NED  2307  6?Ǭ?
 8. FM Martin Haag       DUI  2289  6?Ǭ?
 9. FM Asko Hentunen     FIN  2334   6
10. FM Colm Daly         IER  2353   6
11  ... (85 participants)


Full final standings here (PDF).
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