Tuesday, 22 October 2019

The IOM Chronicles- Part 2

‘Chicken’ who Dreams

The island is asleep, am I too? Is it a bad dream or is it the end of a chapter and the beginning of another?

While players are either celebrating or drowning their sorrows I’m trying to look back on how it was when it’s not even really over…

It was most certainly a very tough tournament but one where there were so many lessons to be learned!

Lesson 1- never make experiments in the first rounds! It is very important to have a good start, as it boosts your confidence! A dull draw with the white pieces vs a 200p higher rated player is not a shame- it is a strategy! I started with be black pieces in round 1 and decided to go for a complex and interesting position rather than trying to exchange one piece after another… Was it correct, was it not? The standings are probably the best judge…

Another black in the 2nd round came as unexpected as it only could. Have tried to prove myself that the lesson was learned and played some very solid chess in order to keep the position equal up to around move 35 but just to spoil it with 2 blunders in a row in the time trouble…

“Irina, pull yourself together! All will be fine!”

A very much awaited white in the 3rd round against yet another 2600+. “And what should I do know?” Any sane professional would tell you to go for a draw after 2 loses in a row, but… I am a player- it is written in my DNA to believe in myself and in my chess- why else would I come here? A big advantage after the opening- doubted myself, made a few slow moves- a bad evaluation and… another loss- the 3rd one in a row. That hurt a bit, or maybe even more, though I made sure that the makeup would not show it to the World and to myself either…

Not an easy win against a lower rated player followed, but a win is a win.

(Photo by Maria Emelianova)
White in round 4 vs an opponent I lost to earlier this year- another 2600+. Played some inspiring chess up to some point, when I lost my advantage and had to be very resourceful in order to maintain the balance. Fought hard, he made a mistake and I got again a big advantage- a totally risk free endgame. He offered a draw. I believe that was the critical moment of the whole tournament. I had reached the time control, got the 50 minutes- calculated, evaluated, realized that I can play for 2 results… but again- I doubted myself… Thought about the lunch I had skipped, the diner I would miss, the caffeine trembling hands, the temptation of the first positive result vs a higher rated opponent and I just couldn’t make myself continue. I was chicken- took the draw.

Lesson 2- A bad plan is better than no plan at all! If you’ve got a strategy- follow it, don’t change it, as it only creates confusion and eventually bad decisions will arise… If you decide you’re in for big fights- fight until the end! If you want to be chicken- be so from move 1 to 151, from round 1 to 11… You can not be Jeanne d’Arc up until move 20 and then suddenly decide you’re afraid of fire… The chicken who dreams is ought to be punished - another loss followed…

At least 6 rounds had already passed and a rest day was scheduled.

‘Chicken’ wanted to be Jeanne d’Arc so badly, still… 

(To be continued)

Thursday, 17 October 2019

The IOM Chronicles- Part 1

A Cabin Bag of Hopes

(photo credits: John Saunders)
To start with the beginning, I have a special place in my heart for the Isle of Man- came here last year for the first time and it also happened to be my first participation in a super tournament. I started with 2 draws vs 2700+ players and had an overall successful event, which was definitely very pleasing… Having had such a great time here last year, I expected nothing less from the 2019 edition.

It is actually an honor to be a part of this great chess celebration and these are no big words! Yes, it is a celebration- of chess, of brilliant games, of great fights and inspiring personalities!

While preparing openings and new ideas for the tournament I was both very optimistic and enthusiastic! What to say? My mind was in IOM much before I myself got carried here by a plane full of grandmasters.

Dreamy window view...
The first worrying bell rang just after the plane landed and everyone was waiting for their baggage to be fetched… I had none and it was not because it got lost- I got so carried away by my whole being enthusiastic about the chess I’m going to play here that I did not bother to take too many things for the 2 weeks on the island- just packed my cabin bag, thinking that I’m coming here to impress with my chess rather than looks and there the second bell rang- "Is my cabin bag too small for the high hopes?".

A taxi drive along the promenade and a diner in the favorite Italian restaurant later I forgot about any bells at all…

Walked around Douglas with my roommate on the next day, telling her "This is the best place for coffee, that one for lunch…" and so on. I must say that I really enjoyed the role of the guide- it made me feel like I belong here, at this tournament… Did the 3rd bell ring here? No, it didn’t… Or did I maybe miss it?

Unpacked my cabin bag later, taking my time while thoroughly sorting out all my hopes… "I will win against 'a' 2650 player in the 1st round, Magnus will make a draw and then I’ll play him in the 2nd round…", yeah- I was very thorough.

The day ended with me lying in the bed with my headphones rhythmic whisper

"Whatever it takes 
Ya take me to the top, I’m ready for 
Whatever it takes
‘Cause I love the adrenaline in my veins
I do what it takes
Always had…”

(To be continued)