World Title match 2016 round No 10 short notes

Game No 10 started with obvious Roel Boomstra’s wish to put a formal end to the question on the winner, although in a humanly form it was ended after he crossed the minimum limit line of 3 victories. Although Boomstra is an accomplished positional player, still normaly he doesn’t choose for 2×2 on the 3rd move.

This time he clearly demonstrated his wish to secure a draw in this game: played very fast, not hesitating, flexible, not so much against his opponent’s limitation as happens in normal game, as from the point of view of maneuver of his position, to be able to shift the development of the wings. Jan didn’t manage to create any problems for white in this, though he hadn’t lost the battle either for advantage or initiative. It was all approaching a draw: parity in tempi, each playing on his opponent’s long wing. Jan Groenendijk as often in this match playing on his last minute or even seconds in waiting for spare time on each increment per move. Suddenly something unseen happened, and he just gave a capture, omitting to notice different capture on white side. The new champion is known officially now.

I want to tell the readers what they most probably don’t know. Match for the World Title and games of it are psychologically very different from what grandmasters play in any other tournament. In a tournament, if one wins against weaker players, wins against some average international masters, and play equal against other good grandmasters, the player can hope for relatively a high score. Each game there has its own different approach, every game against new opponent. In a match it is different. One plays against one and the same player. Your opponent is very strong: he has studied hundreds of your games with a distinct purpose: to find openings, in which you are not quite successful, to find middle game structures, in which you don’t play at your best, to analyze and detect the peculiar traits in your style of game, your preferences, and even your character as a man.

Your opponent prepares for it, and uses all this against you at different portions. To state it briefly: he tries to crush your belief in your abilities, which are often excellent when you play for the title, just by means of pushing his own will (using all he has learned about you) during the succession of the games on you. You are pushed out of your “comfort positions”, “comfort ratio of the time you spend on your calculation”, attempted to set constantly into positional structures your opponent prefers. Gradually after several games you don’t feel you are allowed to play your game anymore. It depends on who from both is better prepared physically, technically theoretically, who for another is a bigger icon to be afraid of. All this plays fundamental role in each match. I tried to explain all this match psychology and theory to Jan when doing some preparation work with him in November, but he is too young yet, and seemingly the feeling that his results within the last 2 years being simply marvelous indeed and relying on his calculation skills only, which on many occasions had helped him to survive in some tournament games, and in some even to win against accomplished players. Somehow let my words come into his ears, but didn’t stay fixed into his mind as an important rule.

Besides throughout the whole match he couldn’t manage to overcome his regular and convenient (although very strange) habit, to play many important moves on his last minute or even second. That is a very bad habit, leaving him hopeless in positions, in which he could have found very good continuations against such a strong player as Roel Boomstra. In my opinion theoretically Jan Groenendijk had a few chances: he is very good in non-standard schemes, which include deep and precise calculation, but he practically never got such positions in this match, with the exception of game No 2 and No 9 when in fact everything was already decided for the match result. The second of his advantages is Blitz games: his calculation skills could have secured some situations when Roel couldn’t have built those technical safety fences any more, and Roel, of course, knew it too, and I think should have felt a bit uneasy about such a prospect… Still again, Jan Groenendijk didn’t manage even close to go as far as those Blitz games. Thus I conclude that a terrible blackout of today, although being just a misfortune, but in fact was generated out of Jan’s consciousness that he was psychologically subdued and had felt permanently throughout the match not as his former self.

But, although being some part of Jan’s team in preparation for the match, I should congratulate Roel Boomstra on the championship – he has done big job for the last 6 years, had improved and stabilized his game, and probably has put more efforts than anybody else in top-class training over that period.

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