Monday, December 15, 2014

Tournament Preparation

Too nice a day in Melbourne to prepare for a chess tournament!
I am currently involved in the 2014 Australian Masters event in Melbourne. There are 2 tournaments running, both 10 player round robins. One is a GM norm tournament, and the other which I'm playing in is an IM norm event. This is the 26th time the Australian Masters has been played since the first tournament in 1987. I've played in a few of these tournaments over the years with mixed results.

In 2005 I had an excellent tournament. I knew about the event a few weeks in advance, was able to put some work into my game, wasn't working at the time, and so could concentrate fully on the tournament. I scored 5.5/9 for a 2370 performance, the best of my career.

The following year, in 2006 I was given the task of running the tournament. With no chess preparation and organisational headaches leading up to the event, I played badly, not winning a game and luckily scraping together a few draws.

In 2008 I finished about par for the course finishing on 4/9. At the time I was quite active in the chess scene and regularly playing. I didn't prepare specifically for this tournament, but my playing strength was enough to maintain an ok score.

The last time I played was 2010 when I scored 3.5/9 but against a stronger field than in 2008. I was pretty happy with my play, had prepared somewhat for the tournament which reflected in my play.

This year has been probably the worst build up to a tournament for me in all that I've played, including 2006. I was working heavily in the past couple of months, and have had little time or energy to prepare for this tournament (I only knew I was going to play about 2 weeks ago anyway!). In fact, I was working on the day it started until about an hour before the games were due to commence. I arrived at the venue with not much time to spare before my first game, which proved to be a pretty painful loss to New Zealander, Robert Smith.

IM tournament favourite Kanan Izzet with Bob Smith sitting in the background
My plan for this tournament is a simple one, and that is to try to play myself back into some form. I have started working on the game, after the first round and already put up a better fight in game 2, though finally succumbing to Bill Jordan in a complicated game. This leaves me on 0/2, not a particularly auspicious start, but I have a feeling that chess is beginning to come back to me. I'll be using this event to kick start my game for 2015 and hopefully to get back to somewhere near 2200 strength. I plan to play a few tournaments next year and put some serious work into some weak parts of my game. Then maybe I'll be a competitive 50 year old from 2016 onwards!

Trevor Stanning (left) with tournament organiser Leonid Sandler

Olympiad team mates, Moulthun Ly (left) and Anton Smirnov

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