Monday, September 27, 2010

A day at the Olympiad

If you are following the comments (shoutbox) in the various local blogs, you might think that our players are having the time of the life with a paid holiday. That is not entirely true. Here is a typical day at the last olympiad - for me at least. You might be surprised how little time there is for yourself.

I usually wake up around 7:00 AM in Malaysia. Due to time difference I actually woke up around 4:30 AM in the Dresden olympiad. Only after a few days I started to get up at a more natural hour.

By 8:00 AM, I am ready for breakfast, usually I am the first one. By now the team pairings will already be posted up in the hotel lobby. The rest of the team will be coming into the dining hall. We start to discuss the line-up for the day. By the end of breakfast we have agreed on who will be resting and the team captain can submit the board order.

Then it is back to the room and fire up the database. We do not know yet the exact board pairings until after lunch. So at this time I have to check possible opponent's games. I will decide on the opening I will play for the round. Then check again the opponent's games in this opening. I start to look at specific variations based on what I think my opponent's playing style and look for new ideas. Chessbase is invaluable for this purpose.

This goes on till 12:30 PM when it is almost lunch time and we start calling other team-mates rooms. The team will have lunch together. After lunch, it is back to the room and fine tune the preparations as by now the opposing player will be known. I will take a short half hour nap and by 2:00 PM all of us have to be ready to leave for the playing hall.

The rounds start at 3:00 PM so everyone have to be present because of zero start - if you are not seated at your board when the gong sounds for the start of the round, you lost the game without a single move made.

If I finish early or rested for the round, it is worse because I have to watch the team's games and willing them to make THAT move. Usually it is too much and I have to take a walk around the hall to watch other games or visit the various stalls selling over-priced chess equipment and books.

By 8:00 PM all the games are usually finished and we can finally make our way to the dining hall (dinner is served outside the hotel). After dinner, a tram ride back to the hotel.

By now it is almost 10:00 PM, the day is not over yet. The game for this round have to be entered into my personal database. I will analyze the game as it is still fresh in my mind. I have been doing this since my early chess playing days. I think this ritual is important to get a form of closure. There are so many things running through my head - moves I missed, blunders feeling the downside of a lost. I need to do this to be able to focus on the next game.

By now it is almost midnight and time to get into bed because tomorrow the whole thing will repeat again. The only exception is the two rest days which we will spend doing sight-seeing to take the mind off chess.


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