Thursday, April 17

Preparing for a Big Tournament

Budding young writer NM Jonathan Hilton from Ohio offers his detailed advice on how to prepare for a major chess tournament in his preview of this weekend's National High School Championship in Atlanta. With the CalChess Scholastics just a month away, I highly recommend this article on Chess Life Online to both scholastic players and their parents. Hilton, who is in 11th grade and rated 2248, addresses the following topics:
  • Check the advance entry list so you know what to expect and whom you may play.
  • Repeatedly play over games from previous tournaments to learn from mistakes.
  • Understand where you are now and set a realistic goal.
  • Avoid overhauling your entire opening repertoire right before the tournament.
  • Instead of preparing openings for specific opponents, improve your understanding in one or two variations.
  • Be prepared for psychological tricks intended to distract you. For example, resist the temptation to move too fast.
  • Exercise regularly. Be fit both physically and mentally.
  • Rest your mind for a day or two. Do not cram chess!
  • Get plenty of sleep.
  • Have fun!
(The photo above is of Michael Zhong from Los Altos High School, the 2007 National High School co-Champion. Unfortunately, homework prevents him from playing this year. Zhong's personal experience, which he shared in this interview with CalChess, contradicts Hilton's advice, especially the point about cramming a new opening repertoire.)

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