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How do you prepare for a Chess Olympiad?

Updated: Jul 26, 2022

Yasmin Forbes, a 14-year old Jersey College for Girls student has been selected for Jersey's first-ever Women's chess team to take part in the upcoming 44th Chess Olympiad, which will take place this year in Chennai, India from 28 July - 10th August.

Yasmin is actually the daughter of our Managing Director, Garry Forbes. Yasmin's great uncle, Harry Golombek was a Grandmaster and 3-time British Champion so with chess effectively running in Yasmin's blood, she began learning the art of the game from the tender age of four.

Following a sterling performance at this year's recent Jersey’s inaugural Women’s Chess Championship (which was sponsored by SaSo), where Yasmin finished fourth with five wins and three losses, Jersey Chess captain Graham Mooney chose to select her for the Jersey Women’s team.

But what can you do to prepare for a Chess Olympiad?

Being Yasmin's first major international competition and at just a tender age too, you'd expect her to feel quite nervous about the prospect of competing on the world stage. We asked Yasmin to share with us how she plans to prepare for the upcoming competition.

Yasmin pictured third from left with the rest of the Jersey's Women's team competing in the upcoming Chess Olympiad in Chennai, India. Pictured left to right: Rachel Ruddy, Lula Roberts, Yasmin Forbes, Monika Ashbrooke, and Daisy Carpenter.

How are you feeling, are you nervous?

I’m feeling fairly nervous, but I’m super excited so the excitement is kind of overrunning the nerves.

How do you manage nerves while competing?

I do get nervous, when the game starts I shake a bit, but when the game properly starts, my brain starts to concentrate on the game and the nerves subside.

Do you have any tricks up your sleeve to help you to win?

There are so many combinations in chess so it’s hard to have just one hard and fast trick up your sleeve, but one way I find it helps to win is to look out for every slight opportunity, on every move.

What are you most looking forward to?

I think it’s just the experience of how strong the players are and the different cultures that you meet throughout the competition. That really interests me. What’s really interesting is that some of the players have learnt chess at school, it’s in their school curriculum. Take Russia and Armenia for example, they learn it at school, so they are particularly good.

Does she know who she is competing against?

We know there will be about 200 countries entering in total but you don’t find out until the day before who you are playing. You have 24 hours to prepare for a game, once you know who you are playing. Jersey has been provided a coach by FIDE (World Chess Organisation) for the duration of the tournament, who is an 8-time Colombian champion. We can also refer to a database of every single recorded game played and it shows each competitor’s game repertoire. I will play between 6 and 8 games over the 2 weeks so it can make memorising repertoires tricky, though we will prepare specifically with our coach for each game we play.

Who do you think will be the most difficult to compete against?

The most difficult opponents will be those in our first game, as usually, you start with your hardest game and then it should get easier in some of the games as we progress through the competition. The country that Jersey will play in each round does depend on how the team performs as a whole as each round pairing is based on a Swiss system, which roughly speaking, means that you play countries that are having a similar tournament to yourself as a nation so if we win a match we will have a harder game the next day than if we lost. There are 5 players in the Jersey team with only 4 playing each day (with 1 player resting) meaning there are 4 points up for grabs in each of the 11 matches played (1 point for a board win and half for a draw). The better that we do as a team then the harder the games will be, though we are all playing our first Chess Olympiad so there is no pressure on us really.

How do you prepare for competitions like this?

Lots of practice! We have been allocated a chess coach and we will go through variations and general chess themes. We’ll also have a few puzzles to work out the best moves in certain positions. I’ve completed a lot of puzzles and gone through some of the most common variations so I feel relatively confident about the competition coming up.

Do you have any rituals to bring you good luck?

Not really, I have a necklace that my great grandfather gave me of a shilling, that I usually wear, but otherwise nothing in particular.

What does the future look like for you?

I’m hoping to qualify for the next team for Budapest in 2024, which is where the next Olympiad will take place. But obviously, for now, I will focus on India and then I hope to compete in more County competitions (Hampshire). Recently I came first placed girl in a recent county competition, which was exciting and that was the 4th time I had won it. Being one of the youngest in the entire competition makes it even cooler.

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