Thursday 27 August 2009

Save The Children!

Hi there.
As you already know, I am trying to get into the English women's team in time for the Chess Olympiad in September 2010. Since this is a very serious and difficult challenge for me, it gives me a perfect opportunity to fundraise for a charity. My favourite charities are for children and this time I chose to support "Save The Children". This charity does amazing work in the UK and all over the world to help vulnerable children. "Save The Children" deliver life-saving supplies to children in response to major emergencies across the world. They work very hard on long-term development projects to develop healthcare, establish food supplies, education and protection for children. And they also try to improve children's future by campaigning for their rights. You can see more about this charity's work on their website:

Please support me in my chess challenge by donating to "Save The Children". Your money will be put to a great use for the benefit of millions of children across the world. Here is my donations page for "Save The Children":
I hope you would be encouraged to give even more of your support to "Save The Children" when you read on my blog about many ups and downs of my challenge throughout the next 12 months. Thank you in advance for all your donations however big or small. Every penny makes the difference!

Maria Yurenok

Monday 24 August 2009

Budgeting is almost as hard as chess!

Going on sabbatical to play chess has its downsides - lack of income. Not only I have to train myself in chess like a nutter, but I also have to give up my lifestyle for the time being. No new clothes or shoes and no expensive entertainment. I'm sure you don't feel sorry for me as I probably have too much in my wardrobe anyway. But I love shoes! Budgeting sucks. I think the trick is not to go anywhere near Oxford Street. For a year!

All of a sudden I started buying cheaper products in my supermarket and use all discount vouchers I can get my hands on. I've never worried about going for colour & cut at my fairly upmarket hairdressers, but now that feels like spending an awful lot of money. I feel like the time has finally come to find out what Primark has to offer... 10 months is a long time to survive on savings, especially if I want to travel to international tournaments about once a month!

Well, my sabbatical doesn't start until 1st October and the real test of my budgeting skill will become apparent sometime in November. I think I will end up living on credit cards by the end of my sabbatical. It doesn't sound too scary though - I'll be in debt, just like most of this country!! Alright, I've already been offered coaching, so I can make some money if I'm really strapped for cash. I would probably choose to do some expensive business consultancy instead. But the point is that I'm taking this sabbatical to fully concentrate on improving my chess. There's no time to waste on trying to support my usual lifestyle as I think I have very little time to achieve my aim. So, I guess, I just have to remember how I survived on a budget in my student days. And those days were good fun... Perhaps, money doesn't matter after all!

Sunday 23 August 2009

Just as I expected

If I want to take chess seriously - I have to play it! So I went to my first international tournament in 3 years. Where to I thought? Why not go to the sunny Greece in the middle of summer, especially since a couple of my friends are going as well? Kavala Open turned out to be rather strong for my rusty chess and a bit hard to adjust to the time control (1:30hr for 40 moves followed by 30 min + 30sec after each move). After all, I've been mainly playing in the 4NCL in the past few years where they do give you a lot of time to think!

I started with 0 out of 4 - I think a real record for me! I had it all - blunders, time trouble, positional errors and trying too hard to win. I kept reminding myself that Shirov sometimes has very bad tournaments, so nothing to worry about, I'm just out of practice. However, after getting only half a point in another two rounds I was in tears! Time to call my parents. They are great motivators - I should have talked to them earlier. My dad reminded me how he got 0 out of 9 in Chelyabinsk town championship. I certainly hoped that wasn't going to be the case for me, so I finished with 2.5 out of 3! In those last rounds I even had time to walk around and observe some of the grandmasters' games which I found rather entertaining. One of those Russian GMs even looked kind of cute... :) Of course, it's important to switch off from chess once in a while if you don't want to become too crazy for the outside world! Though I should proabbly stick with chess to keep safe as I managed to scrape my knee while swimming in the warm Aegean Sea. At least I didn't drown, I suppose!

I still lost 30 rating points, but now I have to concentrate on improving chess rather than worrying about rating. It WILL rise if I train. During the tournament I certainly refreshed some of my openings knowledge and had some helpful advice from my friends IMs Simon Ansell and Adam Hunt. I also feel I had a valuable practical experience in Kavala and I'm sure I'll do better next time, especially since I now make sure that I analyse my games.

Just to prove that I was in Kavala, here is a token picture of me playing chess, taken by one of the tournament photographers (I'm in a blue top in the background):

And I did actually write a short tournament report for the ECF website. See it here if you like:

Till next time!