Lessons from my up and down tournament

Following a recent up and down tournament, I reviewed my play and decided to make some adjustments to my study plan. Here is what I learned in my review. In a later post I will show how I decided to use that knowledge to adjust my study plan.


  • Most players played ‘scheme’ openings against my 1.d4, such as the King’s Indian Defence, Queen’s Indian Defence, or Semi-Slav. Similarly, the 1.d4 players I played against tended to play scheme openings. I meet 1.e4 with the French, so that limits White’s options.
  • I often didn’t know how to proceed against these scheme openings, only remembering vaguely that the standard Colle set-up is not appropriate for such-an-such a Black reply.
  • Where I did know the opening lines, I saved a lot of time by simply playing them quickly. In a couple of games, after around 12 moves, I had more time on the clock than I started with (there was an increment), while my opponents had used more than 20 minutes.


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  • In some games I did not play accurately in a won endgame, but still won. Just more slowly.
  • In some games I had a won endgame, but gave the advantage away and had to settle for  a draw.


  • I allowed my opponents to set up tactical opportunities. That is, I did not foresee the threats.
  • I did not always pay due attention to all of my opponents’ threats, sometimes only seeing some or one of their possible moves.
  • In my Worst Game Ever Played, having won two pawns by move 15, I proceeded to hang two pieces in the space of five moves. This was due to poor board vision; in the process of giving away his pawns, my opponent decimated his kingside structure. This gave his queen free reign over his second rank, which in my mind’s eye was still covered by pawns.


  • There were times in the middlegame where I was planless. In this type of situation I think having a pro-forma thinking process is a good idea.
  • In two games I had tunnel vision on a certain plan or idea, then either missed the chance to win a pawn, or was not patient enough to convert a good position. Again I think a simple thinking process would have helped.

One thought on “Lessons from my up and down tournament

  • 19th August 2017 at 3:56 pm

    Very interesting reflection from your site on what was a strong and brave tournament performance. Playing in the higher sections gives you exposure to the way stronger players handle the Colle System. This is really useful in helping you adapt and fine tune the repertoire. 


    I think one of the best responses to the Colle for black is the King’s Indian Defence to which Nigel recommends the Baltic. I’ve always found this system tricky to play and most often results in a draw. I’ve been looking into this issue and found what I think is a good refutation to KID – the Smyslov variation with 5. Bg5…Akobian lectures on this at https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=h80Mu4N6oYI and Yusupov also supports this treatment against the KID in his ‘building series.. I am certainly going to give it a go and see how it fees and whether it works. 

    Play Against the King’s Indian Defense – GM Varuzhan Akobian – 2013.02.27
    GM Varuzhan Akobian analyzes the best counter for the King’s Indian Defense in a lecture at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis.

    Another opening I hate playing against is the London System. Do you have any preference playing against this or winning games against this system? 


    Endgame study is essential but not the most alluring or attractive of chess studies. I think the best practical technique is to play against someone else and discuss the approach, ideas and problems to fix these ideas. I envisage that with practice these positions will become like tactics where you automatically play the moves knowing the technique and approach. 


    I’ve been trying the following basic thinking mantra which is as follows 

    – What are the reasons for my opponents move – why? 

    – Does their move affect what I am doing – counter, continue? 

    – What candidates moves have I got that negate what he’s doing and fit in with my plan – candidates?
    – Choose the best move for your plan – don’t speculate – calculate?
    A key point to realise and still not sure how one does this is ‘big think’ moment?
    – When a move doesn’t look right – time to think?

    Thinking process
    I followed Simon Williams annotating live games in his climbing to 2500 series https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=00sJneVGTTE

    The reason I mentioned this is that one key thing that hit me in his explanations is understanding the plans behind the opening to allow you to play the middlegame well. I often find I can play out comfortably the opening moves and then I am lost. This is where I think strategy needs to take over – you can get some of this from listening to GM talk about their moves and a good strategy book which is why I am buying ‘chess strategy for club players’ by Grooten. 



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