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Advice thread - Newbie's first tournament

  • #1
    Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 40,053 mod Sparks


    Surprised we don't have a thread on this one already actually, given that for a newbie thinking of going to a tournament this is one of the first things you'd wonder about.

    So folks, what practical hints/tips/notes have you got for people going to their first tournament (whether it's a fullblown tournament or a one-day's rapidplay like the Bray or Galway events)?


Comments



  • Sparks wrote: »
    Surprised we don't have a thread on this one already actually, given that for a newbie thinking of going to a tournament this is one of the first things you'd wonder about.

    So folks, what practical hints/tips/notes have you got for people going to their first tournament (whether it's a fullblown tournament or a one-day's rapidplay like the Bray or Galway events)?

    1. Take your time - No point entering a tournament with an hour and a half on each side if you're going to bltiz through games. Particularly difficult for younger players with shorter attention spans, although I remember one man, easily mid 30s/early 40s, 4/4 in his debut tournament, playing a move within 30 seconds and leaving his queen en prise (although his opponent missed it!). On the flip side, a mate of mine who barely knew the rules played his first tournament in January and got 2 - mostly down to him sitting at the board for a full 2 1/2 hours in most cases.

    2. If you see a good move, look for a better move -A real gem of advice I got before my first tournament. When you notice you can take a free pawn with your knight, most beginners would jump in and immediately take it, not noticing that their bishop was threatening a rook on the other side of the board. Often the difference between winning and losing, particularly in the lower sections.

    3. If you drop a piece or pawn, don't give up mentally - Minor pieces (and major pieces too) are often dropped in the bottom section. I remember a game early in my career where I was a full queen up, and then proceeded to drop a piece, a pawn and then my own Queen. I was ready to resign but decided to stick it out, and I eventually drew the game. A lot of games in the bottom section swing wildly between the two players, and I wouldn't worry if I dropped a piece down there. The chances are you'll get the chance to win it back.

    4. Don't get disappointed if you're not doing well - It can be painful, I know, to lose four games on the bounce, particularly if you were confident of a good performance before the weekend. If it's your first tournament, you would understandably be in two minds about playing again, but remember, your opponents have been playing for longer than you. Come back the next day and aim to win 2/2. Don't give up and most importantly, enjoy the tournament!




  • What I would say would be,

    Enjoy it.

    Be familiar with the notation for writing down your moves.

    Go through some tactic puzzles before the tournament either online or from a book.

    Take your time - After every move think what was opponents idea behind the move whether it was good or bad to try to understand the position or if its a bad plan how can we take advantage.

    Try to analyse every game with your opponent afterwords whether you win or lose as you will learn even more from it.

    Analyse your games after the tournament is over and if you are a member of a club bring your games along and get a stronger player to take a look.




  • On the draw, the first named player has the white pieces. The tables will be numbered.

    Shake hands before you start the game.

    Press the clock with the same hand you move your piece.

    If you're unsure of a rule, tell your opponent that you want to summon the arbiter, then stop the clocks (providing it's your move), and go get the arbiter. Accept his decision for now even if you disagree - this is not the time or place for an argument.

    When you finish your game, it's normal (though not compulsory) to have a chat about it with your opponent. Remember though that the players around you are still playing - a few remarks in a whisper are okay, but for anything more, suggest moving things to the bar.

    If you're new, you're probably going to lose a lot of games. It'll get better.

    Record your moves, and look over them later. If possible, analyse them with a friend who's better than you. This is the single most effective way to improve.

    Don't worry too much about the clock, but when you've 5 minutes left, stop recording your moves and speed the heck up. That said, you should ideally have at least 30 moves in by the time this happens.




  • Take deep breaths :D




  • Take deep breaths :D
    This one I remember ;)

    All the advice above has been good (some I've heard before on the first night in the club, some from other places, some is new); but I'm also wondering about the stuff you don't think of as well, like remembering to bring a water bottle or what to do the night before. And if it's chess-specific, even better!


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  • I think it's important to be aware of the rules in time trouble; I've seen a lot of games lost that didn't need to be lost. What mikhail posted about stopping the clocks and calling an arbiter is good advice. Make sure you know how to stop the clocks though!! I actually had a win turn into a draw cos once cos I couldn't figure out how to pause a digital clock...:o

    The Esplanade is a hotel; I wouldn't bother about a water bottle as you can get a pint (non alcoholic if you really want) and bring it to the board. You don't need do anything in particular the night before; I was at a wedding this time two years ago, got home at 5am, was up at 9am to play and beat a 1900+. :)

    The day'll fly by; don't forget to take time to enjoy it!




  • Sparks wrote: »
    This one I remember ;)

    All the advice above has been good (some I've heard before on the first night in the club, some from other places, some is new); but I'm also wondering about the stuff you don't think of as well, like remembering to bring a water bottle or what to do the night before. And if it's chess-specific, even better!
    Cdeb seems to disagree, but I'd recommend a decent night's sleep.

    Allow some time to find parking and/or bring a good bit of change - a lot of Bray sea front is pay parking.

    There'll be a lunch break at some point, so bring something or have a few quid on you for restaurant or bar food (the latter option can be nice socially, if you're weighing the merits).

    Bring a biro or three if you mean to record your moves.

    You might bring a couple of aspirin or your painkiller of choice: nothing worse than a mid-tournament headache.




  • Hi all,
    Looking to get started playing chess, so a few basic questions. Does anyone have contact details for the club in Ratoath? I've got no reply from the old email address I found on the web.

    Do I need to be a member of a club to attend a tournament?
    Can I enter on the day?
    How much does it cost?
    What type of tournaments are available?
    Is there a list of tournaments and dates anywhere?
    Are there divisions or similar to allow for beginners?

    Sorry for the long list!
    Hopefully see some of you at a tournament some day (be gentle)
    Mark




  • Dunno about Ratoath, but for weekenders -

    No, you don't need to be a member of a club
    Yes, you typically can enter on the day, though not too near the draw time and there'll generally be a tenner surcharge for entries on the day. This is to encourage people to enter early so the tournament can get underway on time
    Weekenders typically cost E35 if entered in advance
    The main serious tournament is a weekender - one full-length game on Friday, three on the Saturday and two on the Sunday. Some tournaments might be a variation on that - Drogheda is two on Saturday, two on Sunday and one on Monday, for example. There are some blitz and rapidplay tournaments (5 minutes or 25 minutes each, compared to 105 minutes each, give or take, for the full games), The Leinster leagues are eleven games over a season, in teams, with a game about every other week.
    A list of tournaments is on icu.ie (calendar link)
    Yes, tournament are generally split into four sections, with the bottom section for under 1200s down to beginners.

    Hope this helps!




  • Razzen wrote: »
    Do I need to be a member of a club to attend a tournament?
    No, Not at all. The team leagues are a different story of course.
    You will need to be an ICU (icu.ie) member if you want your games to be rated.
    Razzen wrote: »
    Can I enter on the day?
    You can, but at most tournaments there's often a €10 surcharge for entering on the day. Best to get entered early, but if you do decide to enter on the day remember to give organizers plenty of time before start of play to adjust draws and pairings and whatnot.
    Razzen wrote: »
    How much does it cost?
    Varies greatly depending on the tournament. Usually in the €30-45 range.
    Juniors often get a discount (as do Students, Unemployed and OAPs at some tournaments).
    Taking Bunratty as an example, the fee for the Minor section is €45,
    but a €10 discount applies if received before 1st Feb (one week before the tournament starts)
    Razzen wrote: »
    What type of tournaments are available?
    The standard is the 6-round, 3-day weekender like the biggies in Bunratty and Kilkenny with one game on a Friday night, three on the Saturday, and two on Sunday.
    Some weekend tournaments are only 5 rounds (I think this is so they can be FIDE rated as the 3 games in one day is no-no for FIDE?), the trade off for having a more relaxed Saturday is it's harder to catch up if you make a bollox of your early games.
    There's also a few one day blitz and rapid events dotted throughout the calendar.
    Razzen wrote: »
    Is there a list of tournaments and dates anywhere?
    http://icu.ie/events/list.php
    Not everything will be listed there. You'll need to have your ear to the ground to hear about many of the smaller blitz/rapid events run by clubs.
    Razzen wrote: »
    Are there divisions or similar to allow for beginners?
    Yeah don't worry, you'll be down with us weakies until you can manage to claw your way out :D
    Taking Bunratty again as an example there's Minor (under 1200 or unrated players),Major (1200-1599), Challengers(1600-1999), and Masters (2000+) sections. Some organizers will allow players within 100 points of the cutoff to float up to the next section.
    There's also an Open section at many tournaments meaning anyone can play, though it's usually just the de-facto master section and will be populated by players too strong for the other sections. Open sections can be a good way for weaker (on paper at least) players to pick up a bunch of rating points, but more often the weaker player confident enough to try their hand at the Open just ends up playing to type and propping everyone else up :(


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  • Razzen wrote: »
    Do I need to be a member of a club to attend a tournament?

    Generally not.
    Razzen wrote: »
    Can I enter on the day?

    Yes, but it usually costs less to register in advance.
    Razzen wrote: »
    How much does it cost?

    It varies, but let's take the minor section at Bunratty as an example:

    €55 if you enter on the day
    €45 if you enter between the 1st and 6th of February
    €35 if you enter before the 1st of February (and €30 if you happen to be under 18)

    This is more than most Irish tournaments, but in my experience you get what you pay for in terms of playing conditions.
    Razzen wrote: »
    What type of tournaments are available?

    There are three main types of tournament you'll come across here:

    Weekend: Usually one game on a Friday, two or three on a Saturday and two on a Sunday, with a time limit of around 1 1/2 to 2 hours per player per game. Bunratty, which I just mentioned, is an example of this type of tournament.
    Rapid: Five to eight games played on the same day, with a time limit of 15 to 30 minutes per player per game.
    Blitz: 15 to 20 games played on the same day, with a time limit of 3 to 5 minutes per player per game.
    Razzen wrote: »
    Is there a list of tournaments and dates anywhere?

    http://www.icu.ie/events/list.php?type=irish

    Or, if you fancy a trip up north: http://www.ulsterchess.org/events
    Razzen wrote: »
    Are there divisions or similar to allow for beginners?

    Usually.




  • If you play against someone's whose legs are twitching ninety to the dozen under the table shaking the board and making you feel like you have an onset of St Vitus dance smack them swiftly about the head until they desist.




  • Don't get discouraged if results go against you, the first OTB tournament is always tough




  • Joedryan wrote: »
    Don't get discouraged if results go against you, the first OTB tournament is always tough
    This made me think of the first ever tournament that I played in The Cavan Minor 1977. I had only played nine rated league games before this W4 D3 L2 but I had beaten a couple of 1300 players so, although unrated, considered myself well on the way to a tilt at the world championship. I travelled to Cavan with Guy Lyons and Liam Hearns and I remember Guy saying to me in the car "you think that you can play chess but there is a guy in your section called gerry Mac Elligott who would just mash you if he played you, it wouldn't even be a game, he'd just destroy you" . Guy was playing in the Senior section and was prone to hyperbole. Anyway, I started off okay with a draw against 1300 Jim Mc Namara, whom I still often meet at tournaments, and then in the second round I beat an unrated player. Next round i came up against Gerry Mac Elligott 1587 who seemed like a GM to me, he got a strong attack and probably missed a number of wins but I somehow hung on and won, the expression on Mr Lyon's green face afterwards was priceless.
    Rd 4 v Tim Walsh from Sandymount 1481, after an awful game I ended up with a lone rook against his Bishop, Knight and four pawns and we both got into a scramble where one by one I won all his pieces and pawns, there was a big row afterwards with him claiming that I'd moved twice in a row or some such thing, I can't remember exactly, but the arbiter Tom O'Sullivan ruled in my favour. Rd 5 I beat Jim Crowley 1303, another who is still a regular at tournaments so I found myself on 4.5/5 I think level with Pat Carton and someone else. In round six I had to play Wild Willy Watts who played for Yellowhouse C.C and was considered to be the Tal of the under 1600 chess world. It would only be a slight exaggeration to say that Willy would throw the kitchen sink at people in games. I knew very little about famous chess players at the time but I had read about Petrosian and the way that he would get defensive positions but then spring forward like a coiled snake with a deadly counter attack. This seemed to be an excellent strategy to use against Watts so I played the Caro Kann and purposely retreated all my pieces to my two first ranks just waiting to pounce like a cobra as soon as the opportunity arose. Needless to say this fell right into Willy's hands and he promptly smashed open my kingside and trounced me in a horrible (for me) rout. I finished on 4.5/6 , won a grading prize and earned a first rating of 1509. I've played hundreds of tournaments since but still remember that first one well.




  • sodacat11 wrote: »
    This made me think of the first ever tournament that I played in The Cavan Minor 1977. I had only played nine rated league games before this W4 D3 L2 but I had beaten a couple of 1300 players so, although unrated, considered myself well on the way to a tilt at the world championship. I travelled to Cavan with Guy Lyons and Liam Hearns and I remember Guy saying to me in the car "you think that you can play chess but there is a guy in your section called gerry Mac Elligott who would just mash you if he played you, it wouldn't even be a game, he'd just destroy you" . Guy was playing in the Senior section and was prone to hyperbole. Anyway, I started off okay with a draw against 1300 Jim Mc Namara, whom I still often meet at tournaments, and then in the second round I beat an unrated player. Next round i came up against Gerry Mac Elligott 1587 who seemed like a GM to me, he got a strong attack and probably missed a number of wins but I somehow hung on and won, the expression on Mr Lyon's green face afterwards was priceless.
    Rd 4 v Tim Walsh from Sandymount 1481, after an awful game I ended up with a lone rook against his Bishop, Knight and four pawns and we both got into a scramble where one by one I won all his pieces and pawns, there was a big row afterwards with him claiming that I'd moved twice in a row or some such thing, I can't remember exactly, but the arbiter Tom O'Sullivan ruled in my favour. Rd 5 I beat Jim Crowley 1303, another who is still a regular at tournaments so I found myself on 4.5/5 I think level with Pat Carton and someone else. In round six I had to play Wild Willy Watts who played for Yellowhouse C.C and was considered to be the Tal of the under 1600 chess world. It would only be a slight exaggeration to say that Willy would throw the kitchen sink at people in games. I knew very little about famous chess players at the time but I had read about Petrosian and the way that he would get defensive positions but then spring forward like a coiled snake with a deadly counter attack. This seemed to be an excellent strategy to use against Watts so I played the Caro Kann and purposely retreated all my pieces to my two first ranks just waiting to pounce like a cobra as soon as the opportunity arose. Needless to say this fell right into Willy's hands and he promptly smashed open my kingside and trounced me in a horrible (for me) rout. I finished on 4.5/6 , won a grading prize and earned a first rating of 1509. I've played hundreds of tournaments since but still remember that first one well.

    You really need to write a book on your early chess career. I'd buy it! :pac:




  • Joedryan wrote: »
    You really need to write a book on your early chess career. I'd buy it! :pac:

    The later years would be more interesting but too much of it would have to be "X" rated I'm afraid. :eek:




  • Today while out walking the dog I met a non chess playing friend who asked me what I worked at now. I told him that I was a chess coach which prompted him to mention that his grandfather was a good player. " What was his name?" I asked "William Watts" he replied. I couldn't believe it, I had probably not mentioned Willy Watts or even thought about him in over forty years yet two days after I write about him in a post here he crops up again. It really is a small world.


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