How to Prepare for Your First OTB Chess Tournament

Although playing chess online is quite fun, there is nothing quite like sitting on the board in front of another person, pressing the clock and moving the pieces around. This is especially true when it comes to a tournament setting.

Fear not if you’re just looking to transition from online to offline play and get ready for your first over-the-board event. We’ve got some handy tips to take care of some of the jerks you’re likely to encounter along the way.

Experience the physical sensations

If you only play chess games online, the sight of sitting in front of a three-dimensional chessboard can easily put you off. This can make it much harder to spot tactics and calculate suites if you’re not familiar with it, so it’s a good idea to take some time and play with a real board before going to the event. Even just plugging into an online game and manually going through the moves on a normal chessboard can help you get used to the feeling of looking at physical chess pieces.

Play slower games (and sit on your hands)

If you haven’t experienced what it’s like to spend fifteen to twenty minutes on a single move and more than four or five hours on a game of chess, you should practice before jumping into a classic tournament. . Most amateur players waste a lot of their allotted time. You have to trust that you can do the math well enough, and it helps to sit there and think about the position. If your opponent performs lightning moves, it’s a lost opportunity for him. Don’t be afraid to get a little behind the clock and think things through.

Also, sit on your hand. Maybe not literally, but it’s a common idea in chess circles. Don’t move when it comes to your mind. Give yourself a few moments to compose yourself, and check out any other possibilities you may have missed while tunneling through your calculations. This is a great way to avoid big blunders.

Learn the rules

There are a lot of little rules and protocols that you need to be familiar with when it comes to OTB gaming. Not only can you get in trouble messing with them, but you’ll also waste a lot of wits keeping them in mind unless you make sure they’re second nature the moment you sit down on the board. ‘administration.

First, the tactile movement rule. You must move with the piece you touched first, so make sure you are one hundred percent sure of your decision before reaching for the piece. To castle, take the king first and use only one hand.

Online-only players also sometimes have issues with the physical clock. You have to deliberately press it after every move to make sure the countdown passes to your opponent. Not only is that the rule, but you’re also putting yourself in danger by letting the other player think freely while your clock is ticking. You must press the clock with the same hand you move the piece with – multitasking is not allowed!

Once you tap the clock, it’s time to write your move. Unless you are participating in a blitz event, you should note every move on the board on the score sheet. Make sure you are familiar with algebraic notation before heading to an event. However, if you’ve trained with studies or participated in other players’ games, the formula itself should sound familiar.

If you’re looking to offer a draw, be sure to do so when it’s your turn. Make your choice, make the offer, then tap the clock. No need to keep repeating “I offer a draw” (or “cheque”, for that matter). Resignation is usually handled with an outstretched hand.

Hear from tournament referees about penalties for illegal moves. Generally, the first is sanctioned by a loss of time (or extra time on your opponent’s clock) and the second is an automatic forfeit. The same goes for your phone, if it makes a sound, you’ve automatically lost. During some events, you are not even allowed to keep it on you for the duration of the game.

As a corollary, do not go to the toilet when it is your move. It might seem counter-intuitive because you’d be wasting your time, but who knows what you’re checking in there?

It’s stressful and everyone’s a tryhard

Chess tournaments are no casual affair, and there’s no easy way to jump into another game with the click of a button. This reflects the level of engagement and plays on the display. Just like you, your opponents will be spending their entire day or weekend playing the tournament, and they’ve also been actively training in preparation. They probably also paid some money as an entry fee. This means you won’t get any of the easy quits or tilt-induced quick wins that you might experience in your online games. Playing chess on the board is like trying to draw blood from a stone.

Don’t expect easy games and never let your guard down: there’s always a chance of a comeback when humans play chess, and mental toughness matters just as much as knowledge of chess, if not more. ELO is also just a number. Everyone can have good days and bad days, and the worst thing you can do is reject an opponent just because they have a significantly lower rating than you (or give yourself no chance against a better opponent note). “Elophilia” is a hell of a thing!

Having a good poker face can also be surprisingly helpful. Often amateur players make it clear how much they dislike their position, which is a great indicator of how you should approach the game.

All in all, sure to have fun. Whether it’s a one-time event or the start of your big chess tournament, your performance will inevitably drop in unfamiliar surroundings. It’s completely normal and you shouldn’t be discouraged. As a rule of thumb, subtract 300 from your Lichess rating to get your FIDE rating (and it should be more or less equal to your chess.com score). Maybe add a 150-250 ‘tournament fee’, and you’ll have a good idea of ​​what to expect!

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