With the World Open about a month away, I thought it would be a good idea to discuss how to spend the last few weeks as effectively as possible. Here are a couple of ways to make sure you are putting in the most you can before any big tournament:
1. Keep a Chess Log
Record each and every minute you spend studying and label each study session as openings, endgame, or tactics/other. While these are very general divisions, it will help you visualize how you are preparing. For example, over the last week or so, I have dedicated over 300 minutes to opening preparation, but only over an hour for endgames studies. While you may not want each section to split an exact third of all your study time, it is important to recognize how much time you are putting into the different areas of your game, and to keep that in perspective.
2. Play Tournament Chess, or Games in Tournament Conditions
If you want to get better at playing at tournaments, you have to play at tournaments. By playing competitive matches before a big event, you have two distinct advantages:
a) You can learn from all the mistakes you make, and adjust your openings accordingly.
b) You practice calculating in intense situations. Many players only play in a handful of tournaments a year, so if you are more focused than your opponent, you already have an advantage.
3. Cut Blitz at Least a Month Before the Event
This one is hard. Blitz is really fun, and can be a good tool to practice new openings. However, blitz does not allow for you to practice calculating, which is what it takes to win games.
This one is self–explanatory. Don’t stay up late stressing about the tournament on a daily basis in the weeks leading up to the tournament. Make time to study chess during the day. Remember you are playing chess because it is fun!
Keeping a consistent, nicely paced study schedule is the best way to prepare for any tournament. Feel like there are other good ways to prepare for a tournament? Feel free to share your ideas below!