I read a lot of articles that tell the reader to try and take “lessons” away from tournaments. For me the lessons sometimes come long after I’ve finished a tournament. Sometimes the lessons can be quite painful. There are times when I struggle to take a lesson away from a particular game or event. In the Marchand this year, I learned a valuable lesson.
I don’t want this to be another stale post about topic “X”. I too roll my eyes and skip to the part that interests me. Perhaps you’ve already skipped ahead; more power to you. For many of you, there are few things that I can tell you that you don’t already know; and that’s cool. Some of you may learn something from this post; and that’s cool too.
This tournament was unique for me. I learned a valuable lesson in my first game; and without realizing the lesson, I ignored it:
The second round I played against GM Kudrin, our game wasn’t all that fun. That is to say, I didn’t enjoy it. At some point around move 22 I realized that I was looking for a good place to resign. Thankfully, the game next to us was full of intrigue so I could live vicariously through them. Kudrin’s play was solid. He never allowed me any chances of getting back into the game and my position was devoid of counterplay. As is customary I post this game in it’s entirety:
In my third game I had another critical decision to make in the endgame. I ignored the “lesson” of my first game and acquiesced to a draw in a sharp endgame where I shouldn’t lose:
The fourth game rolled around and once again I acquiesced. After misplaying the opening I was struggling to find a way to neutralize white’s play. I came upon a solution but as soon as I stabilized I offered a draw! This has more to do with my own psychology than it does with whatever was going on during the game.
Having learned my lesson from round three and four, I was not in an agreeable mood. There were more than a few times that I wanted to extend my hand. At some moment, I resolved to allow myself to take a step “into the deep dark forest”*. The game could have gone the other way. And in that case the lesson would be different. In an alternate universe, I lose this game. In that universe, I opine about how I, “should have offered a draw”. How I, “overestimated my position and my abilities”. But on this day, Caissa smiled on me and I won with a beautiful knight fork that threatens mate in two or nets a piece:
So what is this mysterious lesson that I’ve been cryptically eluding to? Play on! Play on young man, play on!
*From the classic Tal quote: “You must take your opponent into a deep dark forest where 2+2=5, and the path leading out is only wide enough for one.”