Saturday, 7 July 2018

And They're Off!

So here I am again, in Radebeul near Dresden , for the 2018 World Seniors Team Championship. Two years after my debut, I am once again playing for England 2 in the over-50s championship - though despite my incompetence I have somehow risen to Board 2 - but this time around things are very different. Because I have been joined by both Bernard R and Andy B, in a three pronged attack on the World title. Andy finds himself playing for England 2 in the O-65s section, while Bernard is in the England 4 team in the O-50s.

Play got under way at 16.00 today (the same time as England v Sweden kicked off over here), and after all 3 of us were thrown into the heat of the Round 1 battle, the KCC contingent ended the day undefeated, with at least two of us highly chuffed by our performances.

The less chuffed Andy B finished first. I saw nothing of his game as he had been consigned to the annexe where all but the top 6 or 7 over-65s matches had been consigned. Faced with a London System as Black, Andy managed to blunder a pawn relatively quickly - at which point his opponent (from the German club team Freibauer Niedersachsen) promptly offered a draw. Never one to look a gift horse in the mouth, Andy wisely accepted.

Next to finish was Bernard. Quite what he's doing here is a matter for some discussion, as we all know he's only played one serious game in the last six years and - to put it mildly - that hadn't gone well. Today, though, he was inspired, and played very sensibly against a 2114 rated opponent from Dresden, and was never worse. Indeed, he agreed a draw from what was probably a position of strength. An excellent performance, which doubtless owed much to the pre-match beer he felt obliged to consume at lunchtime!

And so to me, as always the last to finish, but when the game ends in mate it isn't such a hardship. Having almost 200 points advantage over my Finnish opponent, I fairly quickly and easily built up a big advantage on the white side of a 3 Bb5+ Sicilian. But with the win in sight, I faltered and allowed an exchange which should have led to an immediate draw. However, the quality of the play from both players then deteriorated markedly, and after a few rather nervous moments, my opponent kindly self-destructed in spectacular fashion to allow me to force mate with queen and knight.

We have celebrated in appropriate fashion tonight at a truly excellent pub, which has so far not been discovered by anyone else at the tournament! Its not haute cuisine, more substantial grub, and we'll be back there again tomorrow evening. It has the added advantage of being right next to a narrow gauge steam railway. And when I say right next, I mean right next!

Bernard relives his train-spotting youth! Luckily we have remembered to look both ways when leaving this pub.

I may not be so up-beat with my next report, as I already know that I am playing GM Jim Plaskett tomorrow, when England 2 go head to head with England 1. Bernard is up against a 2000 rated player from the German club team Horst-Emscher 1931, while Andy is playing ….someone! The draw is not yet up for the really oldies section.

I know that the results are only half the story - you really want to know the celeb gossip. Well, on that point I can tell you that yesterday we shared a taxi from Dresden Airport with Jon Speelman (of course we let him have the front seat!) while less creditably Bernard almost trod on legendary GM Vlastimil Hort. As he has a bad foot (Hort not Bernard!) that could have caused an international incident, but thankfully actual contact was avoided by an inch or so. Yesterday evening we found ourselves dining in an Italian restaurant where we were definitely not sitting at the strongest table - GMs Speelman, Emms, Plaskett, Hebden, Benjamin and Kudrin just edged us.

Most important of all, though, Bernard has proved himself an absolute star on the linguistic front - Anglo-German relations are consequently much better at our level than between May and Merkel. Long may it continue!

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