September 26, 2022

The chess preparation for an Olympiad is divided into two parts: developing the players’ opening repertoires and improving their form right before the event begins. Another component of preparation is psychological, while the physical aspect is self-evident — the players must be physically fit in order to withstand the lengthy strain of an event as long as the Olympiad (11 rounds). Team sports are mainly selected for the physical component in order to develop team spirit, while jogging and swimming are excellent for boosting a player’s stamina. I’ll discuss how chess-related preparation is done in practice, and I’m confident you’ll be able to pick up a few techniques to utilize in your own work and to learn something more about chess openings.

1.Introduction to the Repertoire

A player’s opening repertoire can be improved by studying the most recent advances in the openings he or she uses. The player’s own analysis is then compared to these advances, and improvements are sought, either by the engine or by a partner.

It is much easier for one person to look at the engine while the other looks at the board and comes up with human thoughts during group preparations. Because everyone is utilizing essentially the same engines, the human aspect is now more prominent. The more unique and unusual a human concept is, the better. It must, of course, withstand the engine’s examination, but even if it just offers a +0.05 (as opposed to the engine’s +0.35), it may be quite useful in a practical game.

I know how difficult it is to undertake this kind of task on your own. Because the hypnotic impact of the screen combined with the continual move-producing engine is tough to escape, almost all players are engine-dependent when working alone. Only when another human is present can the quality of preparation improve significantly.

This is why group preparations before to an Olympiad are so vital, because the ideas generated during these hours will have a much greater influence than the engine’s customary “first-line” improvements, which any professional player can expect.

2.Studies to be Solved

Before the tournament, players should work on two things: solving studies or exercises to enhance their calculation, and playing out endgames, whether theoretical or practical, to refine their endgame skill. (Another valuable thing individuals do before a significant tournament is to review the basic theoretical endgames, but this is usually done alone because there is no need for assistance.)

3.Calculation

Calculation work is done at the team’s final training camp before the competition, which should last at least a week and end 3-4 days before the squad departs for the tournament. In this way, the brain is still trained to compute effectively, but it has also had time to relax after all of the hard work. Timing is crucial, and while everyone is different, generally speaking, resting for 3-5 days before a competition is recommended.

4.Real-World Endgames

Playing practical endgames is a great way to improve your skills. It’s quite useful since one player may work on gaining an edge while the other works on defending tough positions at the same time! The roles can then be reversed. Because executing a position involves significant mental effort, it may also be utilized to enhance the players’ calculating and practice habits.

5.Preparation for Psychological Exams

A specific emphasis should be made of the psychological preparation. First and first, the team’s best interests are paramount, hence the cliché “a draw is a good result” is frequently used. In team games, a draw is nearly always preferable since chances will arise, thus there is no need to take chances without a clear goal in mind.

When I saw the Russian team in the European Team Championship in Plovdiv in 2003, I saw that as soon as one player had a lead, the other three players promptly attempted to draw their games, leaving the one with an advantage to push. They won the majority of their matches 2.5-1.5 and were crowned European champions.

Another advantage of the “draw is good” idea. It relieves the players of their stress. Nobody “needs” to win a game. Everyone plays normally, and then the opportunities present themselves. The players’ expertise shines through in this situation, as they are able to assess the positions on the other boards and make appropriate selections. The captain, too, must have a high degree of skill in order to observe the game and respond to potential draw offers.

6.Spirit of the Group

Group preparations foster team spirit by allowing players to spend time together, which strengthens their bonds. If it was once feasible for a team with players who did not speak to each other, such as the USSR squad, to win everything because they were so much stronger than the others, it is no longer possible. There are at least 5-6 teams of about comparable strength in the globe, and final success is frequently determined by minor nuances.

Today’s teams require that intangible link between players that makes the whole greater than the sum of its parts. This is aided by a positive environment in which the players feel encouraged by their teammates and respected as members of the team. On a more personal level, the coach (or captain) should be highly astute in engaging each player in a way that brings out the best in them.

I’ve seen athletes that require encouragement and a soft approach, as well as those who require a proverbial “kick in the buttocks.” This is all highly personal, and the coach (or captain) must have this talent in order to properly navigate circumstances and manage the players over such a lengthy and exhausting event as the Olympiad.

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