22 April 2012

Tournaments: The Joy of Battle

This was conceived in response to some recent posts in the chess blogosphere about players retiring from the OTB tournament field of battle.  I'm very much a supporter of people doing what they themselves are most interested in doing; so for those who don't wish to participate in tournaments, may they thoroughly enjoy what they do in the chess world.

This post, however, is for the tournament warriors - past, present and future.

* * * * * * * * *

Walking into the venue for the first time.  (If it's a hotel, checking in with a sense of purpose.)  Perhaps other players are there in the entryway, sporting various types of chess gear.  A sense of anticipation is palpable.

(Unpacking in the hotel room.  Laptop, travel set and a book or two are carefully placed on the table.  The Endgame Clothing wear is separated from the rest of the clothes and hung with care.)

Supplies must be gathered for the upcoming campaign.  Juice drinks for careful consumption during the games, to ward off decision fatigue.  Snacks for eating during a very long game, or if there is not enough time between rounds to go for a full meal.  Warriors fight on their stomachs, as well as their brains.

The tournament gear is packed and at hand.  Set, board and clock are in their carrying case, ready to be drawn like swords from their scabbards.

(Shall it be the stairs or the elevator, to reach the tournament hall?  Taking the stairs, the body is warmed up and the blood flows for the coming struggle.  In the elevator, the mind is calm while watching others nervously or excitedly enter on the trip down.)

Carefully pushing through the throngs around the pairing sheets and wall charts.  Letting the most impatient clear the way, then moving softly, like a cat, to see who your next opponent is.  Recording the opponent's name, color choice, and board number on the scoresheet, which is otherwise blank - although not for long.

Heading for the tournament hall, feet treading the ground with a sense of purpose.  An impression of organized chaos, as players find their places and the round comes closer to starting.  Your board - the most special of them all, it seems - is waiting.  Feeling the thrill of getting in the ring with a higher-rated player, or a sense of confidence tinged with healthy respect for a lower-rated opponent.  

The joy of seeing the battle open as the first move is played.  Strategic choices are made and the duelists start to feel out each others' defenses.  Will it be a furious, sharp encounter?  Or a subtle exchange of thrusts and parries, slowly building to its conclusion?  The game is there to be created, its rhythm constantly ebbing and flowing.

The outwardly restrained jubilation of a well-deserved win.  The relief of a not-so-well-deserved win.  The acknowledgement of a draw.  The resignation of a loss.  All possible, all accepted beforehand by the warrior, who nonetheless strives for victory.  Respect for an opponent's efforts shown, as the field of battle is departed to mark the results.  Seeing how the competition stands and weighing your chances.  Resolving to play well and fight hard the next round.

Packing at the end of the campaign.  Reflecting on the results and lessons.  Eager to get back in the fight, after a well-deserved rest.  Thinking of preparations for the next campaign... 

1 comment:

  1. Lovely images. It has been too long for me since I have had the chance to step into the arena. I subsist on hope for the future.


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