Before the Olympiad
In view of my recent performances I feel vulnerable. I did some work to prepare, but this is no guarantee that things will not continue down the same road. I found things very difficult this year, even though I think that I have actually improved. Inexplicable things have started to happen, like leaving pieces en prise, something I wasn’t doing even when I was starting to play chess. I found it impossible to beat considerably weaker players and this happens on a constant basis.
When there were no computers I was very good at sensing my opponent’s state and I knew how to play against him. The computer helped me improve my opening preparation and learn so much, but I lost that feeling for the opponent. I have become too academical in my approach, too much “playing against the pieces” and too little “playing against the opponent.” I remember seeing my (much weaker) opponents so motivated when they play against me, it was written on their faces. I expected to win just by “playing against the pieces” but it didn’t work. And after such a long time I don’t know whether I can get my lost feeling back – during the games I am so immersed in the game that I forget about my opponent and this takes a considerable sting out of my approach.
The Olympiad is a very tough tournament. The level of resistance is much higher, no easy games, everybody is very motivated. And I will play stronger players than the open-tournament opposition I failed to beat. I am usually optimistic but this time I am not so sure.
Confidence is the key. And at the moment I don’t have it. How to get it? I don’t know, it’s a fickle thing. I thought my work will give me confidence, but in reality it’s the results that give (or take away) confidence. Good results – big confidence, bad results – no confidence. Unfortunately, now I find myself in the latter category.
Sometimes life helps. A lucky break, a positive event, a good coincidence. But I cannot rely on that, can I?