Chess is a competitive game that’s been refined over centuries so you probably are feeling the pressure entering your first tournament. While the game is the same, tournaments are quite different than playing on the computer or on your board with a group of friends. There are rules and procedures to get used to, but fortunately, you can still prepare yourself from home.
Obtain Your Own Practice Equipment
Having your own chess set is a must, even if you usually practice on the computer or via mobile apps. This will at least consist of a board and chess pieces required to play the game. You can get one extremely cheap on the internet or even from local second-hand stores, so there isn’t much of an excuse not to have one.
If you don’t have experience playing with a chess clock, there are lots of them available online at affordable prices. While digital stopwatches or your phone can serve the same purpose, they don’t have the same precision as the physical item.
A chess clock
Optionally, buying a chess table can be quite useful and decorative if the budget allows it. A chess board will have a board integrated within the table, drawers to organize the pieces, and sometimes may be designed for larger novelty chess pieces.
Get Used To Playing Under Pressure
While critical thinking and strategizing are what chess is all about, it is quite different to play in front of a crowd versus people you are familiar with. Not only is there great pressure to give your best performance, but it is also quite uncomfortable to be in the spotlight in general.
If you join a chess club, you will be put out there with other competitive players and you can get used to being under pressure. You will also get used to being crushed by veteran players and learn how to deal with new strategies that you never had imagined.
The first move you make in a game of chess will be the biggest deciding factor where the game will go, so don’t mess it up. Some popular strategies include the Queen’s Gambit, the Slav Defense or the French Defense. You can read up on opening moves here.
The Queen's Gambit
You will also want to make sure you won’t set yourself up for quick checkmate strategies. This includes the infamous four-move checkmate gags that veterans like to pull on newbies.
Watch Clips of Professionals
While your own experience is highly valuable, watching very high-level players through tournament DVDs, Youtube videos or live chess tournaments will get you immersed into the game. There is also a mix of amateurs, enthusiasts, and professionals that live stream matches on Twitch, giving you a mix of entertainment and knowledge.
Aside from sharpening your chess knowledge, you need to be mentally and emotionally prepared for this serious environment. You can’t predict whether you win or not, but the most important thing to take home is an experience so you can better prepare for future tournaments. Don’t forget to enjoy yourself since chess is still a game, after all.