SPRAGGETT ON CHESS
Alexander Grischuk contemplating his 3rd move in Wijk aan Zee’s annual tournament of superstars taking place right now. (Photo courtesy of organizers)
Grischuk is one of my favourite players. Born in Russia in the year 1983 and counted amongst the world’s dozen or so elite players since 2000, this young man is one of his generation’s most enigmatic individuals. He is also , apparently, a world class poker player! While Alexander has won many top laurels in the chess world, including Linares 2009, he seems at times uncertain if he can win the world title. We will have to wait for the candidates tournament later this year to see if he has settled this issue with his inner self.
In the meantime, he is at Wijk aan Zee. The first game he lost to the American Nakamura, when he was too optimistic about his chances with a sacrifice. Perhaps it was only first round jitters, or perhaps he was lead astray by a growing consensus that the American is just a flash in the pan….
In anycase, Grischuk got rightly trounced when his attack did not bear fruit. In the photo above (round 2 against the Frenchman Vachier Lagrave) seems to be confronting his demons. Should he play 3.d4 and enter a complex theoretical fight? Or should he just play solidly and make an uneventful draw?
Many players deliberately make a draw immediately following an unexpected or important defeat. I suppose it has to do with regaining one’s confidence and composure. Of course, it would be better to win (than draw–as always!), but no one likes to risk losing 2 games in a row! Making a normal draw is a way of grounding oneself: re-establishing contact with the elements of the game; avoiding putting excess pressure on yourself as a way of punishment.