Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Planning Your Tournament Schedule

Submitted by WGM Natalia_Pogonina
Originally my column has been titled “Preparing for international competition,” so today I decided to be more to-the-point and cover one of the most important topics in this field – planning one’s tournament schedule.
Choosing where and when to play is typical of both amateurs and pros. Let’s try to think over the process and discuss the main steps. I would like to point out right away that the tips offered below suit rational people (who are fond of making plans and time management) better than those who prefer spontaneity and light-mindedness. Anyway, they should be more or less useful for everyone.
1.     Allocate your free time. Check with your planner or simply think about it (if you don’t have one). Unless you are a professional player, most of your time is distributed between work (or studies), family, and other hobbies. Decide how much time you can afford to spend on chess (it’s also worth checking out my article on the optimal number of games per year in case you haven’t read it before). If your opportunities are in conflict with your wishes, you will have to reconsider your priorities. Some of you will forget about your chess ambitions, others will find a way to reorganize weekends or holidays, some might even think about changing his/her lifestyle!
2.     Mind your goals. Chess is popular since the game brings joy to people in many ways. Tourism, the process of playing, dealing with interesting people, mastering the game, competing with others, earning money – these are just a few factors that make chess attractive.  After understanding what is important for you personally, it will be easier to make decisions. Start looking out for open tournaments in certain countries (tourism). Forget about planning and play whenever you want to (enjoying the game). Connect with your friends and meet at a pre-chosen event (communicating with interesting people). Plan your preparation in detail (mastering the game). Try to earn a title (competing with others). Estimate your financial needs (chess as a means of making money). And so on.
3.      Choose the tournaments. Let’s say you have allocated some time and decided what you want from those events. Now it makes perfect sense to search one of the online databases (e.g. Chess Events or ChessMix) and compile your actual tournament list. After that you can handle the organizational matters (start preparing, connect with the organizers and friends, purchase tickets, etc.).
4.     Participating in tournaments and reviewing your plans. Sometimes our plans have to be revised either due to our fault (didn’t apply for a vacation at the correct time) or someone else’s (the organizers of the tournament have escaped with the sponsors’ money). To mitigate the effects, one should have second best choices, i.e. emergency options. If a tournament gets canceled, you will attend a different one. If your family affairs don’t let you play, the next time you will firmly say “no” and travel to an open. In this respect it’s a good idea to discuss your plans with all the associated people: your boss, relatives, friends, organizers. This will minimize the chance of being sent to a conference at the wrong time, running into a scandal at home, missing a chance to meet the people you would have loved to see, getting turned down by organizers.
Let’s take a look at this method in practice. I am a professional player, so for me the process is, in some way, easier. Sometimes I want to spend more time with my family, have certain health issues or simply get bored with chess. However, most of my calendar year is open for chess tournaments (item 1). Another feature is that I often have the luxury of choosing one of several attractive proposals that come to me, as opposed to searching for them myself. Otherwise, the process is identical to the one described above.
As I have already mentioned, it is essential to know the hierarchy of your chess values (item 2). Until recently, for me it went like this:
  1. Financial reward
  2. Prestigiousness of the event
  3. Opportunity to increase my chess mastery by facing strong opponents
  4. Atmosphere (venue, people, etc.)
After having reconsidered my life-style in October, I decided to stick with the following pyramid of values:
  1. Opportunity to increase my chess mastery by facing strong opponents
  2. Prestigiousness of the event
  3. Financial reward
  4. Atmosphere (venue, people, etc.)
Based on that, I can choose where to play (item 3):
November 2010 – Russian SuperFinal (main criterion - prestigiousness)
December 2010 – World Championship (main criterion - prestigiousness)
January 2011 – Gibraltar Open (main criterion – opportunity to improve in chess)
February-March 2011: Аeroflot Open or something similar (main criterion – opportunity to improve in chess). Depending on my mood and wellbeing.
March-April 2011: European Championship (main criterion - prestigiousness)
I also have the other months of 2011 planned, but would like to abstain from publishing the info so that not to confuse the organizers (in some cases I will have to choose between two or three attractive offers – item 4).
Hopefully, the recommendations provided above will help you plan your chess calendar and enjoy playing!
To conclude this article, let me share with you the annotations of one more game of mine from the recent European Club Cup: 
Pogonina, N. (2491) vs. Chelushkina, I. (2325)
15th European Club Cup Women | Plovdiv BUL | Round 2| 18 Oct 2010 | ECO: C09 | 1-0
1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 c5 4. exd5 exd5 5. Ngf3 Nc6 6. Bb5 Qe7+ 7. Be2 Qc7 8. O-O Nf6 9. dxc5 ( 9. Re1!? Be6 ( 9... cxd4 10. Nb3 Bb4 11. Bd2 Bxd2 12. Qxd2 O-O 13. Nfxd4 ) 10. Bd3 O-O-O ( 10... c4 11. Bf5 O-O-O 12. Bxe6+ fxe6 13. Rxe6 Bd6 14. c3 ) 11. c3 ) 9... Bxc5 10. Nb3 Bb6 ( 10... Be7 ) 11. Bg5 Be6 12. c3?! ( 12. Bxf6 gxf6 13. a4 Rg8 14. Qd2 a6 ( 14... Bh3 15. Nh4 ) 15. Rfe1 O-O-O 16. a5 Ba7 17. Nfd4 ) 12... Ne4 13. Be3 Bxe3 14. fxe3 O-O 15. Bd3 Qe7 16. Qc2 f5 ( 16... Bf5 17. Nh4 ( 17. Nbd4 Bg6 ) 17... Bd7 18. Bxe4 dxe4 19. Nf5 Bxf5 20. Rxf5 Rad8 ) 17. Rae1 ( 17. Nbd4 Rf6 18. Nxc6 bxc6 19. Nd4 Bd7 ( 19... c5 20. Nxe6 Qxe6 21. c4 Nd6 22. cxd5 Qxe3+ 23. Kh1 ) 20. Bxe4 fxe4 21. Rxf6 Qxf6 22. Rf1 Qg5 23. Qf2 Qe7 24. c4 dxc4 25. Qc2 Qc5 26. Qxe4 ) 17... Rf6 18. Nbd4 Bf7 ( 18... Raf8 ) 19. Qe2?! ( 19. Nh4 g6 ( 19... Nxd4 20. exd4 Be6 21. Nf3 Rh6 22. Qc1 ) 20. Nhf3 ) 19... Bh5 20. Bc2 Kh8 21. Qd3 ( 21. Bb3 ) 21... Raf8 22. Bb3 Nc5 ( 22... Bf7!? ) 23. Qd2 ( 23. Qc2 ) 23... Ne4 24. Qc1?! Qc5 ( 24... Qd6 ) 25. Bc2 Qa5 ( 25... Qd6 ) 26. Bb3 Bf7 27. Nh4? ( 27. Qc2 ) 27... g6? ( 27... Nxd4 28. exd4 ( 28. cxd4 Be8 ) 28... Be8 ) 28. Nhf3 Bg8 29. Rd1 Qc5 30. Bc2 Qe7 31. Rde1 Nd6 ( 31... g5 32. Bxe4 fxe4 33. Nxg5?? Rxf1+ 34. Rxf1 Rxf1+ 35. Qxf1 Qxg5 ) 32. Bd3 Qg7 33. Nxc6 bxc6 34. b4 Ne4 35. Nd4 c5 ( 35... Qe7 36. Nb3 ) 36. Bxe4 cxd4 ( 36... dxe4 37. bxc5 Bxa2 ( 37... Rc8 38. c6 Bd5 39. c4 Bxc6 40. Rf2 ) 38. Rf2 Bc4 ) 37. Bf3 dxe3?! ( 37... dxc3 38. Qxc3 Ra6 39. Qc5 Rxa2 40. Bxd5 Bxd5 41. Qxd5 Qb2 42. Rc1 ) 38. Rxe3 Ra6 ( 38... Rc6 39. Rd1 Rfc8 40. Bxd5 Rxc3 41. Rxc3 Rxc3 42. Qd2 ) 39. Qd2 f4?! ( 39... d4 40. cxd4 Rxa2 41. Qc3 ) 40. Rd3 d4 41. Rxd4 Rxa2 42. Qd3 Ra3 43. Rc1 Qe5 ( 43... g5 ) 44. h3 Rc8? ( 44... a5 45. b5 ( 45. Qe4 Qxe4 46. Bxe4 a4 ( 46... axb4 47. cxb4 Rb3 48. Bc6 ) 47. b5 Rb3 48. Bc6 a3 49. Ra4 a2 50. Rxa2 Rxb5 51. Bxb5 Bxa2 52. c4 ) 45... Qc5 46. Kh1 Rb3 47. Bc6 ) 45. Qd2 g5 ( 45... Qe3+ 46. Qxe3 fxe3 47. c4 ) 46. Re4 Qf6 47. c4 Rd8 48. Qf2 h6 ( 48... Rc8 49. Qe1 ) 49. c5 Ra2 ( 49... Bd5?? 50. Qd4 ) 50. Re2 Rxe2 ( 50... Ra1 51. Rxa1 Qxa1+ 52. Re1 Qc3 53. c6 Qxb4 54. c7 Rc8 55. Rc1 Be6 56. Qxa7 ) 51. Qxe2 Qd4+ ( 51... Rd7 52. c6 Rc7 53. Rd1 ) 52. Kh2 Bf7 53. Rd1 Qxd1 ( 53... Qf6 54. Rxd8+ Qxd8 55. Qe5+ Kg8 56. c6 ) 54. Qe5+
After playing inaccurately in the opening, I got a worse position with White. The knight on e4 was restraining all of my pieces. Under these circumstances it was hard to come up with a decent plan, so I made a few weird moves. Luckily enough, Black’s play was far from perfect, so I found a chance to confuse matters, gain some advantage and even convert it into a win.
» posted in Scholastics

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