Rest and Resilience – report from European Youth Chess Championships

Going into round 6, at the foremost of Zoe Varney’s mind was the fact that she was the only one in the England team yet to win a game. Consequently she played a little rashly when her opponent was passive with the White pieces. In most tournaments, the rest day would come nearer to the half-way point rather than two thirds of the way through. So tiredness and lack of morale took their toll and she ended up losing.

On Sunday, Zoe was at least a lot more refreshed after a relaxing day away from chess. We avoided the blitz games on Sunday night; instead Zoe enjoyed some friendly games against a much higher rated team-mate, which were quite close and restored some of Zoe’s confidence.

Zoe and Akshaya playing a friendly game

Zoe and Akshaya playing a friendly game

It was just as well that Zoe was rested, because her round 7 game turned out to be the longest yet, lasting close to five hours. Playing White, she had a very small edge out of the opening, but after one inaccuracy suddenly Zoe found herself in a lost position. This time it was Zoe fighting for the draw!

Fortunately she played very well from this point on, looking for counter-threats and being prepared to sacrifice material to maintain rook activity and cut off her opponent’s king. It is true that her opponent made some errors which let Zoe off the hook, but the game showed great resilience in the face of difficulties over the board. Another life lesson and another draw, but this time a great relief rather than a disappointment!

Pavel enjoying a blitz game against Theo

Pavel enjoying a blitz game against Theo

Pavel Asenov’s experience in round 6 was a lot more positive. In fact it was possibly one of those critical moments for him, as he had never had a losing run of four out five games before. Recovering from this took some mental strength. But he managed to pull himself together with clear preparation and a very well executed game plan in which he outplayed his opponent in the middle game.

Consequently Pavel was in a relaxed frame of mind for the rest day, enjoyed the blitz tournament in the evening, and was back in good shape for his round 7 game which he won confidently and convincingly.

Andrew is an ECF-accredited chess coach and very active in coaching juniors in the Oxfordshire area on a professional basis. He attends Cumnor Chess Club when he gets a chance to take a break from coaching on Thursday nights. One of the books he recommends to his students is ‘How to Beat Your Dad at Chess’ but his own children are definitely beyond the point of needing such a reference!

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