Caravan Days, by GM Nigel Davies

November 20, 2006 |

Looking at a chart of my ratings, January 2000 to October 2006, it shows a dramatic rise from April 2003 followed by a plateau and recent decline.

So what was I doing prior to the rise? I ‘decided’ that I had to get the International Grandmaster title. The Berlin Wall had come down and International Masters were not making much of a living. Another incentive was that my solitary GM qualifying score (from 1987) was given a new lease of live by an extension of its validity.

Towards the end of 1992 I devoted myself to improving my game making chess the number one priority. My ‘investment’ into this project was to live off savings, the single payoff was the title. In early 1993 I went to the UK and lived in my parents small caravan during the time I was not at tournaments. My Dad drove it to a remote caravan site from which it was difficult to reach any distractions. I had some chess books I was studying plus Chessbase on the computer. And not much else.

I set a time-table for my studies which mainly featured two weak spots, openings and endgames. I also took long walks in the country and swam a couple of times a week. The goal was not so much ‘mastery’, I was already a strong IM. The idea was to become a beast of prey, to have an edge.

My results do not tell the full story — I was also second in Lichtenstein with 7.5/9. My results in 1993 were around 2570, which is not indicated by the rating chart (it takes time to catch up). This was more or less a 100 point jump in a relatively short space of time. I should stress that I was 32 at the time and not a teenager.

One of my main regrets is that I did not continue and go for a 2600 rating, but the incentive (survival within the way of life I was used to) had gone.


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