My European Championship 2019 – Part II

After the two losses I was paired with a lower rated opponent. In Round 5 I was facing WGM Maltsevskaya, 16-year old Russian talent rated 2252 and a World Champion for girls under 20 from 2018.

The game turned out to be much easier than expected as she didn’t know anything in the opening. Still, it lasted long enough to prevent me from resting a bit more.

I noticed that in modern chess the old notion of respect and resigning in lost positions is largely gone. Especially the young generation just plays until the end, even absurdly so. It is the Carlsen influence and I made the mistake of not adjusting to this change. This cost me dearly in the next round.

After the rest day, in Round 6, I was paired with another young player, FM Zlatin, rated 2243. He had a limited repertoire with a few dubious lines and I targeted one of those.

Of course, there is no excuse for not winning this. I was too relaxed and perhaps too amused. But I know that these feelings never help during a game of chess and this was shown one more time. You cannot (and shouldn’t) toy with your opponent, it’s best for both if you just put him out of his misery, because as long as there is life (he’s in the game) there is hope.

In retrospect, this game was in a way a turning point, not so much for the result, but for the quality of play. Had I won, I would have played stronger opposition again and this would have forced me to raise the level of my play. But starting with my next game I was lost, or nearly lost, in all my remaining games. Even though I was feeling the same I couldn’t keep up the quality of my moves and there were major ups and downs in evaluations, from winning to losing and everything in between.

I think this game affected me more than I thought. I know all too well from open tournaments that when I fail to win against a lower rated opponent in the next round I get a similar one who puts more resistance and if I keep not winning each next opponent is a more difficult one in spite of their ratings being lower.

Even though I knew this I still couldn’t readjust and the next round was perhaps the worst game I played in the whole tournament.

Round 7 brought an almost identical type of player – a youngster from the same country (Israel) with the practically same rating, 2245. My preparation was great, I may have even managed to refute an important line, but I followed up badly and all the effort went to waste.

A crazy game, but one with very low quality. I was missing a lot of moves and I only started to fight when I was dead lost. I was lucky to manage to confuse him in the complications, though he was winning until the very end.

As described above, following the pattern and life giving me another chance to prove I’m able to beat somebody, in Round 8 I got another lower rated player, Polatel, rated 2220. And things only got more difficult as this time I risked in the opening and was lucky not to be punished. Still, he was fighting hard throughout the whole game and outplayed me in the middlegame.

Another awful game, I was exhausted when it finished. The only positive thing about it was that I won. After two missed chances against lower-rated players I finally won a game and now I was going to be paired with stronger opposition. I was worried about it, because I saw that my level dropped and that I’m playing worse than in the first half of the tournament.

Alex Colovic
A professional player, coach and blogger. Grandmaster since 2013.
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