Claire Clarke, Contributor
Volume 1. No. 43
Reigning National Women's Champion Krishna Gray has returned from the 40th Chess Olympiad in Istanbul, Turkey, with one enduring life-changing lesson - think positive.
Continuing our profiles on the Jamaican representatives at the world's largest and most prestigious tournament - the World Chess Olympiad - Ms Gray, on assessing her experience, told ChessMate: "This year's Olympiad taught me a lifelong lesson. It proved there is no room for negativity, for positive thoughts reap positive outcomes."
Gray first represented Jamaica in an Olympiad in the 39th renewal in Russia in 2010. And she was a member of the record-setting female team led by top-rated former National Champion and Women's Fide Master Deborah Richards-Porter. That 2010 female team took home a gold medal for their stellar performance in their category, outshining the Open section men's team by light years.
But the women were not as successful on this outing as they were in 2010, where they reset the expectation bar for not only Jamaican but Caribbean female chess Olympiad teams. Gray had big dreams going into the tournament with the plan: "Perform to my best as well as attaining an international title," she said.
In spite of an improved training regime in the run-up to the Olympics, Gray was not able to achieve her targets, but in her post-tournament analysis she is clinical and clear about what might have gone wrong with her Jamaican dream.
CAN'T TRAIN TOO MUCH
"I believe there is no such thing as too much training, but in hindsight I think if I could have handled the pressure as well as controlled my nerves it would have helped me a lot," Gray said.
Chess games at this level can extend past five hours per match. Often, victory is not merely about pre-game preparation and strategy but also about the physical and mental endurance over the prolonged hours of play across the board, and how well players remain focused.
She lists her three best games as those that she played against teams from Aruba, Turkey and Malta. "In these games I found myself in a difficult spot, but endured to the end to add to Jamaica's scoreboard," she said.
She beat Women's Candidate Master Claudia Carrero from Aruba; also bettered WCM Filipina Borg Rivera from Malta; and shared the spoils with Turkey's Busra Arig.
Her post-analysis of her own games gives great insight on the ticking that goes on in Gray's mind. Here she speaks of her game against WCM Borg Rivera.
"After being a d4 player for two years, I decided to go with the element of surprise by playing e4." This was the last round of the tournament and strategically this switch must have thrown her opponent out of her comfort zone with Gray. The lady from Malta would have researched and prepared for a d4 opening since games online for Gray, as well as play in the current tournament, would not have shown anything else.
Gray continues: "My opponent was a prolific Sicilian player but I was prepared for her dragon. By move nine we were out of the opening book she played the Old Sicilian and by move 13 I was up a pawn. I had to play patiently and accurately because I knew the game would have gone into an endgame, which is my weak part of chess. I played my moves with careful thought and execution and at move 36 I was clearly winning and could relax for a bit. My opponent continued to play on, however, and got checkmated on move 69!"
And, indeed, it is true that chess players get ultimate satisfaction from executing mate on the board.
Gray, who played board two for Jamaica in Turkey, ended with 3.5 points from nine games. The play on the big stage is over for 2012 but Gray is not daunted by her performance. The University of Technology student is back to the drawing board with a plan: "To train harder, to participate in other international tournaments to help in my preparation for a higher level of play, and to help in the initiative for the growth of female chess alongside my teammates," she said.
Harold Chan Open: September 29 and 30 at the NHT Car Park.
Email feedback, send in your games or upcoming tournaments to email@example.com and join the Facebook page 'Chessmate'. Claire Clarke is a former Women's National Champion, three-time Jamaica Women's team Chess Olympiad representative, trained journalist and editor.
It is move 12 with white to play. Gray is white. Can you see how she wins the pawn she has described in her analysis on move 13? The captured pawn that eventually results in her winning the end game? Send your email with the move to firstname.lastname@example.org or join the discussion on the ChessMate Facebook page.