This is the next in my series of ‘T- reviews’. If you have not been following them, the concept is explained in the first one.
The main news this period is, of course, the London Chess Classic, which was a fantastic event as always, even if my results left something to be desired. I took part in the 9-round FIDE Open, followed immediately by the weekend ‘Super Rapidplay’. My performance of 3.5/9 in the Open was somewhat disappointing, and I am expecting to lose around 5 rating points as a result. It was all going reasonably well until the penultimate round, when I managed to change a winning position against a 2062 into a lost one in the space of a few minutes’ play. Had I won that game I would have been gaining around 20 ELO points; as it was I was back to parity, and lost 5 points the next day for drawing with a very underrated junior (once more from a winning position). My performance in the rapidplay afterwards was fairly disastrous, which I think can largely be attributed to exhaustion.
To understand why I was so exhausted, let me explain my routine for the tournament. The pairings came out at around midnight each day, and I would stay up each night for two to three hours after that with my guest, GM Tal Baron, and prepare a file with lines I was intending to play against each of the possibilities for the next game. I would then sleep until near midday, before resuming work on my lines, trying to understand in some depth the standard plans in each position. We left for the games shortly after 3 pm, and for the first few rounds I relaxed as much as possible on the journey. In later rounds I changed this routine, by adding my lines to the iPad app ‘Chess Opening Trainer’, and spending the journey to the game revising the lines. There followed a long game (my longest was 108 moves, and most at least reached the time control at move 40), the journey home, and generally an hour or two’s rest before repeating the whole process.
Clearly this was a pretty intense routine, but it may have been sustainable if I had been sleeping properly. Unfortunately I slept very poorly most nights, as I was sleeping in my living room and being woken up by my housemates leaving for work early every day. I will have to think more carefully about my routine for my next tournament. However, despite the impact this had on the rapidplay and the later rounds of the main event, it was still a useful experience. Some of the opening work I did should pay off in future games, I have picked up some useful tips from GM Baron, and I will be able to draw some lessons from my games.
FIDE standard: 1962 – 1957 (expected), -5 points
FIDE rapid: 1899 – 1877 (expected), -22 points
FIDE Arena blitz: 1944 – 1924, -20 points
I have explained these rating changes above; whilst it is never nice to lose points, I do not think they actually reflect a loss in strength. However, I now face a long uphill climb to get the required rating points before my September deadline, so I am changing the red/green ranking of this section to red. Note that I am still owed 24 points from my tournament in Belgium, but I do not know when these are likely to appear on the list.
Assessment: Red (cause for concern)
I have added a column to my public study log for ‘intensity’, which will allow me to record some of the chess activity I do, such as fairly casual analysis of my games, which I do not regard as ‘deliberate practice’. I will only be counting the high intensity activities (other than games) towards my weekly target. I have counted some of the opening preparation I did during the Classic as high intensity practice, which means that for the first time I met my target one week and then easily surpassed it the following week. I will be leaving this at a red ranking as I am still far behind my cumulative target (2070 minutes completed against a target of 4680).
Assessment: Red (cause for concern)
That’s all for now. There will be a T-32 review on the 17th of January, but do check back before then as I may post some games from the Classic or some more ideas about studying. As always, please share your frank thoughts in the comments section below.