Thursday, 11 July 2013

Commonwealth Championships 2013 Part 1 (OC + Rounds 1-4)

by Andrew

Sorry for keeping you waiting, Figjam Readers - a mixture of having a rather temperamental internet provider, my computer frequently crashing, jet-lag and the flu has made blogging not quite as easy.

When I decided to play in the Commonwealth Championships a couple of months ago, I had no idea that the tournament would be this prestigious...

Michael Brown's photo.
Light show during the opening ceremony. I was upstairs in the VIP area (who'd have thought?), eating fancy canapes and drinking whatever I could get my hands on.*  
*Non-alcoholic beverages, of course...


Michael Brown's photo.
Upon arriving at the airport we approached this sign and were greeted by two girls wearing chess shirts and soon a man (in a tailor-made suit with the Commonwealth Chess Championship logo embroidered into it) who kindly offered to take our bags. Then we were shown into a Commonwealth Chess van, with the full paint job, and taken to the 5-star venue that would be our hotel.   

...and, well, big! With 862 participants playing in the two sections (Championship section and B-section), this tournament has by far the most players of any tournament I have played in. In fact I'm pretty sure it has more than my last 15 tournaments combined.

So, thankfully I did manage to survive the flight over, long though it was, but it seems for the last few days jet lag has got the better of me. Even though I have been playing much lower-rated opponents, my games have been long and not as easy as they should have been: I have had trouble focussing and have missed a lot of simple things. On Day 3 this became quite serious when, having played for 3.5 hours to get into this unclear position against my South African opponent (1907), I managed to leave my rook en prix.

After 28.Nc3. Here I played ...Nb5?? and after 29.Nxa2 I was lost - Bxa2 30.Rd1 and staying in the game is all but impossible.

Losing in this way was quite painful, especially considering it would almost certainly ruin all my chances for a GM norm due to average opponent rating issues if nothing else. Battling the early onset of the flu, I was not in the best of moods for the rest of the day. The blitz was on the following day, and it was very tempting to play, but I decided it was best for me to take a break and do what I could to recover mentally - after all, this was only 3 rounds in to an 11 round tournament, and I was still keen to make the most of it.

I have had a few too many tournaments where a loss in an early round has inhibited me psychologically for the remainder of the tournament, and so I decided I had to work on what it was that was preventing me from bouncing back properly. I decided that I had to first of all not dwell on the loss, but fully accept that it had happened. Then I had to remember why I play chess - not just to win, gain rating points, get title norms etc., but because I love the game. I love the mental exercise that each game offers, the struggle to bring about harmony between the pieces, the opportunity to be creative, and the chance to produce something really special.

Keeping these thoughts in mind the next day, I was more focussed, more relaxed, and much more eager to be in that hall, at 3:00pm, doing it all again. Suddenly my flu seemed a whole lot better (in part due to the medication), jet-lag no longer seemed a problem, and my loss yesterday barely bothered me.

The game that followed was the most enjoyable game I have played in a long time.

And after this it got better and better.

I am hoping to have Part 2 (Rounds 5-8) up in the next couple of days.


  1. This tournament had escaped my radar.
    ... Part 2 ??

  2. Sorry Steven, other things have taken priority recently. I am hoping to do Part 2 this weekend and blogging in general much more regularly (once or twice a week) from now on. Thanks for your patience :)