New Year, Old Everything?

The new year, popularly called 2020 too, arrived. For me the new arrival is usually filled with optimism and big plans for the year ahead, but this time it was different. No optimism, no excitement, no plans. For apparent reasons, I should add.

To give you an example, the FIDE Candidates tournament was announced for mid-June in Madrid and I was very excited about the news as I would like to go and visit the event. But how do I plan that when it’s not clear what will happen tomorrow or next week, let alone in six months?

Perhaps an even more extreme case is the Bangkok Open, already announced for December.

The main problem with today’s situation is that there is way too much contradictory and confusing information that is being constantly fed to the public via all possible channels. I won’t go into debate whether this is on purpose or because nobody really knows what is going on so everybody’s guessing. The problem with contradiction is that it is difficult to tolerate as with lack of clarity and stability the stress levels are impossible to control.

Strangely as it may sound, chess calms my mind when I am not competitively involved. I have written about this in my newsletter, that it helps me fall asleep as I go over various variations in my mind when I go to bed. Recently I ran into the following game of Ulf Andersson. He had a choice of going for one of the two versions of a rook endgame:

Version 1:

or Version 2:

One of them is winning for White, the other one is a draw.

Andersson wenr for Version 2 and that was the drawn one. But as so often happened in his games the opponent didn’t show the necessary technique and lost anyway. The winning version was the first one, the key to the position being the more active position of White’s rook, as it can go to a5 as opposed to a4 from the second diagram. Details always matter in chess.

I suppose that chess calms me down because it focuses my mind and isolates me from everything external. It’s a very cosy bubble to be in. I understand that having the opportunity to enter this bubble is a priviledge, but it is still the outside world that will have to make some order out of the current chaos. Bubbles are nice, but they cannot offer refuge forever.

Alex Colovic
A professional player, coach and blogger. Grandmaster since 2013.
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2 Comments
  • Pau
    Jan 12,2022 at 6:23 pm

    Hi Alex, great aritcle. Can you elaborate about the positions in the rook endings

    • Jan 19,2022 at 11:43 am

      Thank you Pau. The analysis is quite complex in fact, but I can publish them here in the next blog post.

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