The past week (October 7th – October 17th) was my fall break, so I had decided that I should go and play in Millionaire’s Open to a. try my luck and b. ensure that I am at least somewhat still invested in the game, as I was forced to remove myself from the almost purely academic environment I had gotten used to.
I’m going to be honest here and admit that I haven’t really studied chess since the World Youth Championships last year, which is just about 2 weeks shy of a full year ago. Taking that into consideration, my performance for the last five or so tournaments I played in before Millionaire’s was a pleasant surprise. Maybe because I did not feel the stress of school, so I was able to fully concentrate on my games, or maybe I was just able to retain what I learned in Greece for only about a year, but I was able to consistently improve my rating in small increments, reaching my peak.
So to say I was surprised at my poor performance at Millionaire Chess (3/7 with a half point bye for the first round) would be a lie, after all I haven’t sat in front of a chess board and thought for a couple months now. For the first time in who knows how long, I lost three games in a row in a single tournament. The worst part? Two of the three games were lost due to stupid blunders where I was simply trying to be too aggressive. So understandably, this was my expression for most of the tournament:
Okay, I’ll admit that was actually my expression during my game following the three losses where I finally won a well-fought game. I think one thing I loved about playing at Millionaire was that not a single game I won was really based on ‘luck,’ I had to fight hard and play consistently solid moves in order to not be outplayed, no matter the rating of my opponent. As I’ve always considered myself to be a pretty lucky player, this tournament acted as a reminder for me that you make your own luck – study and you’ll be rewarded. Don’t study? Get ready to suffer at one point or another.
I’m honestly deeply saddened that the Millionaire Chess series will most likely (I still believe in miracles) be ending as this tournament was probably one of the most consistently strong tournaments I have been to. There wasn’t a single easy game – everyone there was ready to give it their all.
Now, aside from the chess and my poor performance, the tournament was a ton of fun and a great experience as I was able to meet many other players, including tournament winner Dariusz Swiercz!
I’ve realized with this tournament that every tournament is a lesson – not at just the game level, but at the psychological level of our regular mental participation in the game. While I’ve been preoccupied adapting to my freshman year of college, I let chess slip out of my head, which was pretty detrimental to my play. Just by playing tournaments at a certain frequency, we are improving our play in small increments.