Chess tournaments are tests of multiple skills and qualities of a player, more than just chess-related. They test the player’s ability to maintain focus, analyse their own moves, anticipate their opponent’s moves, strategically plan their way through the match, while also testing their physical and psychological endurance.
Preparing for your first, or even nth tournament can sometimes be a nerve-racking task, but with these key points to keep in mind, you will be all set to go. Read ahead for some useful advice on how to ready yourself for a chess tournament!
1. Pick a Tournament that fits your Rank
For first-timers or beginners, it is safe option to pick a tournament to play that fits their rank. A new player may find it suitable to play within a low rating category group to allow themselves to get a more comfortable gaming experience, as it will be their first experience competing in a tournament. Once they build their comfort zone and begin excelling within it, they can begin to map their way out of it and improve their skills as well as their rating.
On the other hand, players on the more experienced end might choose to go for open tournaments so that they may gain more exposure while also getting opportunities to compete with a wide range of opponents and, therefore, possibly playing against opponents with higher ratings than their own to build up their competition and practice.
2. Learn few Openings and Endings thoroughly
Openings and End-games constitute the most important aspect of the game. The way you make your way into and out of the game can very well determine your chances of winning. It is important to have a good few openings that you have practiced beforehand, it’s also useful to refresh your knowledge of some basic endgames; preferably those you can use with about 5 minutes left on the clock for the game.
Every player trying to play competitive Chess should have an opening repertoire of atleast 2 openings. The player must practice these openings with popularly played variations and the counter moves. Having an understanding of atleast 2 openings with most variations would be the sure way to have a great start in tournaments. There are a whole lot of openings and not everyone can play all of them. The most popular ones like the e4 openings, d4 openings etc and their counter moves from Black needs to be learnt thoroughly.
Similar to openings, there are certain endings such as Rook & pawn ending, Queen & pawn ending, King & pawn ending etc. There is also another dimension in preparing endgames, that is the drawing positions, number of moves and the clock time. Players needs to be conscious of these while playing endgames.
Putting your skills to use with many online as well as board-and-clock offline games with real people, is a must to refresh those skills and keep up steady practice.
3. Learn Middle Game Tactics
The choice of moves and tactics made by a player during this middle game can either build up on or bring down how well they may have started off the game. Tactics should come like the muscle-memory while driving a car. There are certain patterns that arise out of chess piece positions. A player can identify these instantly by a lot training. The player does not even need to think a lot as their training kicks in, triggers a series of moves that bring greater advantage over opponent.
For learning tactics, it is always a good idea to watch chess games to analyse the tactics and moves of many players around the world. Watching Grandmasters play chess can always be a great way to learn something new and valuable to your play. Keeping track of recent tournaments and watching the games unfold, or even watching YouTube videos about useful tactics that you can practice, can be very useful methods to incorporate into the games.
4. Practice Spaced-Learning
Cramming multiple games and knowledge about techniques a night or two before a tournament is no good way of preparing for tournament. Spaced-Learning technique is always encouraged over such mass-learning one. Spaced-learning technique involves consistent, timely/daily practice hours with a focus on learning something new everyday as well as enforcing what is learnt earlier. Here important to note that, repeating what is learnt earlier is equally important as learning something new.
No book or self-learning can help in this regard and this is where the coaches can help, understand each player, their strengths and weaknesses, enforce the strength and mitigate the weaknesses.
5. Ensure Physical Fitness
While games can last for many hours at a time, it’s important for players to be able to give their best at all points throughout the game. For this reason, the player’s physical endurance acts as a supporting pillar in maintaining the mental presence and focus on the game as it takes place.
Games can last from up to 2 hours, to up to 4-5 hours or more at length and it is important to ensure you are able to physically sustain yourself and focus on the game for that long. Get a good night’s sleep the night before you’re playing, and try to keep this up a week or so before the tournament commences.
At Saswath Academy, our coaches train kids in Chess as a skill rather than an academic system. Preparing for tournament requires patient, consistent efforts, not just for the player but also parents and coaches. Anyone can play chess, but competitive Chess requires a more understanding, analysis-based approach. Talk to our coaches and take a free demo of our class to know more about our teaching methods.