Saturday, 25 July 2015

British Championship Update - Day One

With the main championship not starting until Monday, only hardcore chess players or those with nothing else worthwhile to do with their lives (I think those two things may be equivalent) were expected to turn out for the opening weekend. I was quite surprised, therefore, to run into a number of players from Kenilworth and the surrounding area. In particular the appearances of Mike Johnson (a late entry into the U150 tournament) and Roy Watson (of whom more will be spoken later) led to a considerable local contingent being present. After a number of gripes from players about the choice of Warwick University as a location for the tournament, in particular the unimpressiveness of Coventry as a summer vacation location, I was pleased to note that overall everyone seemed satisfied with the venue itself. Hopefully this will continue when a more substantial number of people are present next week.

On to the results themselves. Two very creditable performances were produced by Coventry Chess Academy juniors in the U8 competition, with a score of 3/6 for one and 2/6 for the other highly satisfactory for local players against the best juniors from around the country. Ben Graff had a slightly harder time in main rapidplay with a score of 1.5/5, though consideration must be given for the fact that his grade of 150 made him one of the unluckiest entries in the tournament, as he was 1 point too high to play in the U150, and hence had to play in the open instead. I myself had somewhat of a better day, with a score of 3/5 and defeats only against people graded over 200. I also managed a personal best of only 1 piece blundered in 5 games, though unfortunately that one piece was a queen. Slightly strangely, the only game of mine I can now remember well enough to reconstruct for publication was from the opening round, and was perhaps my least interesting of the whole day. Still, I'm optimistic future days will provide more exciting fodder for dissemination. My most enjoyable moment of the day was after what I thought was a very clean win in round 4 on the white side of a Sicilian, Roy decided to take me aside and give me a lecture on all the things I had done wrong in the opening. All I can say is I am glad I had won the game, or this could have been exceedingly annoying.

The undoubted star of the day, however, was Mike Johnson, with a score of 4/5 in the U150 tournament leaving him with a hope of securing some prize money tomorrow. The highlight of his performance was the last round game, where he was playing a rook endgame with three pawns for each side. Mike was better due to the passive placement of his opponent's rook, but a long technical struggle appeared to be in offing. However, with Mike having his rook on g1 and his opponent his King on b4, an excellent self-destruction was achieved after Rb7, when Rb1+ forced immediate resignation. An excellent moment for Paul, Roy and myself who all happened to be watching the board at the time.

Paul, Roy and myself then decided to retire to the Zaika Lounge in Kenilworth for dinner after the completion of the day's events. Paul and I went on first, with Roy assuring us he was right behind. A slight concern was raised when he referred to a restaurant with elephants side, which neither Paul nor myself could remember, but we repeated the word Zaika to him many times, and were confident of success. Unfortunately, despite us waiting a considerable period of time, no eccentric Northerner ever appeared, and we were informed by the staff that there was indeed at one time a restaurant with elephants outside, but it had long since closed down. Therefore, if anyone walking down Kenilworth High Street over the next few days should happen across a confused chess player staring mournfully into shop windows do not be concerned; he is merely still searching for that elusive elephant who will serve him Onion Bhajis.

Summary thus far:
Total score by Kenilworth players: 8.5/15

My personal performance:
Played: 5
Points 3
Well played endgames: 3
Atrocious blunders: 1

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