Trip Summary- Barcelona and Nuremberg

I am hoping to reflect on the two events after some time back, in this post. I have looked at my games. There is a lot to be positive about. The main thing is definitely progress.

I started off in Barcelona playing “good enough to beat weaker players” chess. That was the reason I won the first three games, where I almost let IM Bukal off the hook in the third round. Round four was a draw, where I did not see that my opponent can play 18…f6. It was really a blunder on my part. Round 5 showed me getting a great position in the Pirc, but then play a few inaccurate moves in the middle game.

My round 6 miniature did not show much. I beat my opponent who showed very little resistance. I got a bad position in round 7, then got back into the game, had a big advantage. Then squandered it, fought back, fell in serious time trouble, and then my opponent lost. I said that my opponent lost, because I did not win that game, he just collapsed.

Round 8 was a complete breakdown. Losing that completely winning position hurts. I lost that game. A GM should not lose games like that. I have stopped kicking myself about the game since. I was sick, I was tired, I relaxed. Lesson learned. Don’t relax. Living in the past is a bad thing in chess as well.

Round 9 was another loss. My opponent played pretty well. I was too optimistic throughout the game and the sense of urgency which I usually possess when fighting against the initiative just never came.

Round 10 was a bounce back win. It was important to get back on track to finish the tournament. I was still left with a sour taste in my mouth, but it would have been much more sour if the tournament ended after 9 rounds.

Overall, sickness kicked in at the end of the tournament. I was generally playing poorly against the initiative. This showed in rounds 8 and 9. I was quite fortunate to be sitting at 6/7 as I was. I could have been at 7/8, tied for first, without that catastrophic loss in the 8th round.

The tournament was a warm up. I felt the gears changing. But it’s hard to go from first gear to the top one. It’s impossible to duplicate the same intensity I feel during games while analyzing. The intensity was clearly still not 100%, and I kept having lapses in the level of my play. The most important thing is that I was back on the horse. It could have been worse. It was time to go to Nuremberg.
After a few days off, I was well rested to start the tournament in Nuremberg. I was healthy and ready to go. After such a breakdown towards the end of Barcelona, it was good to have something coming up so soon.

I started Nuremberg playing much better. It looked like “smooth” chess. The first three wins were good ones. I overcomplicated matters in the 2nd round, but I felt much better about my calculations in that game though.

Fourth round was a tough one. I was playing a good player. I ground him down in a very long game, and it felt really good. It meant that I could handle long games again. But the same day I had another game, which I was able to draw in a sketchy position.
I went into the last day being tied for first. I played well against GM Prusikin. 25.g4 was a consciously dubious decision. It worked. I finished my opponent off with some pretty good technique.

The last round was a battle with GM Ftacnik. I was very tired after the morning game. I had an easy draw. I lost that endgame. I felt horrible about myself after wards. First place was easily within reach. It was one precise move away. I am not saying that the winner did not deserve the win. I am saying that I have a lot to kick myself for.

I got 2nd place on tie break. My competition was solid. I played 5(!) out of the top 13 finishers! Those were all my opponents from rounds 3-7. You can find the prize winners at http://www.schach.lga.de/index.shtml

I played much better in Nuremberg. Things like university studies and exams simply don’t compare to top level chess games. The concentration levels are at completely different levels. The tournament in Barcelona helped me get back into form.

A bright note was that I scored 4/4 on the first games of days! I scored only 1.5/3 in the second games of the day. I had some long morning games, and fatigue was certainly an issue in the evening rounds.

Another thing that might be obvious is that I am a bit of a grinder. I generally capitalize in long games. I win some close to equal endgames. I specialize in endgames. I make a lot less mistakes in endgames. At my best, I might play my best chess in about the 3rd to 5th hour.

Some lessons have been learned from the tournaments. I had some problems in openings, and in playing against the initiative. Calculations certainly got better over time. My play with black was not too convincing.

Now, I’d like to talk a bit about the organization of the events. In the end of the day, playing chess is just playing chess. Organizers don’t make the moves for you. It is the chess player’s job to make good moves. It is the organizer who is in charge (I apologize if they do not see themselves as “in charge”) of many things outside of that. Things like playing conditions, accommodation, atmosphere and personal relations are things that the organizer takes care of for titled players. This can make the difference between a well organized tournament and a badly organized one. Different organizers have different amounts of money, and this is why the comparison is sometimes unfair. Different players might assess tournaments differently. All I can provide you with is my subjective assessments of the events.

Well, I thought Barcelona was quite poorly organized. Our residence was brutal. No towels, soap, and shampoo. Tiny rooms with paper thin walls. The location was about a 35min walk from the playing hall. A lot of people who respect themselves would never put themselves in such an accommodation. I am not sure how to better describe how I feel about the accommodation there.
Vinay said that it was not that bad, and that he has stayed in worse places during his 2 years of playing professional chess. Well, it’s clear that I have higher standards than Vinay in this respect. At least for now.

The playing venue was not a great one. It was hot inside the playing hall. The stage had a lot of poor lighting. I played every round except for the last one on the stage. It was better to play off the stage, away from the projectors and the big lights.
I did not have much contact with the organizers. The first e-mail I sent to them in English, they did not reply to. The second one, they replied to in Spanish. I tried to minimize communication after that.

On the flip side, I had some disadvantages. I do not speak Spanish. 95% of the players in the tournament spoke Spanish. This may have taken away from my general experience, one way or another.

Now we move to Nuremberg. I got there three days before the first round. I booked the same hotel the organizers put me in. The first time that I came into my room, I felt like a new person. The room was great.

The hotel was a 5min walk from the playing hall. Very convenient location. The hotel in Nuremberg was nothing short of excellent.
Playing venue was excellent. There was a lot of space between boards. There was no bad lighting. There were windows everywhere. It was not too hot and not too cold. I don’t know what else to say about the playing venue.

The communication with the organizers did not start off too well. It was my fault. I was always in contact with GM Michael Bezold. Michael responded to my e-mails quickly. Absolutely no problems there. We got into a bit of a “dispute”, if you can call it that, because I misread the dates of the event, not realizing it was two rounds per day.

Everything was settled. Michael gave me excellent directions to get from the airport in Frankfurt to the hotel in Nuremberg. Those small things are always appreciated.

As I wrote earlier, the night before the first round, Michael showed me the playing hall and we went for dinner with a few other players.

For me, the atmosphere of the tournament was great. All the organizers were friendly and always cheery. Everything was taken care of. All the boards were spacious. Everything the organizers could take care of, they did.

I might have been the only non-German speaking player to receive a prize. So everything at the closing ceremony was in German. Everything except for some nice words about me, followed by my name, when it came time to give me my prize.

I would like to thank the organizers of Nuremberg for a very well run event! Everybody who I spoke to about the event enjoyed it thoroughly. I would recommend this tournament to anybody who wants to play in a good atmosphere, with great organizers.
Here are some photos from Nuremberg, the title is above the photo.
The opening ceremonies.

Me at the beginning of a game.

My 2nd place Trophy.

The winner, GM Ftacnik

Third place finisher, GM Kunin.

The closing ceremony. The well dressed gentlemen are the organizers, who may have made some people feel bad for not dressing as well as them!

The 8th LGA Premium Cup will be held from September 8th to September 11th, 2011.
The tournament website is: http://www.schach.lga.de/index.shtml

I am leaving for the Olympiad tomorrow… I’ll try to follow this up with a short preview/update on what I have been up to.

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One Response to Trip Summary- Barcelona and Nuremberg

  1. Gerardo says:

    “The first e-mail I sent to them in English, they did not reply to.”

    Maybe they received it with another 20 messages in English and deleted it right away, thinking it was also spam.

    Thanks for sharing your chess with us.

    I am eager to read your comments from the Olympiad. Good luck!

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