Saturday, 8 August 2015

British Championship Update - Day Fourteen (Finale)

We should begin today with a very quick mention of the winner of the championship itself: GM Jonathan Hawkins. Four players were tied for first before the final round: Hawkins, Howell, Gormally and Nick Pert (who was actually playing his twin brother in the final round), but Hawkins was the only one who managed to win, thus clinching the title. And, as ever when Hawkins wins anything, it is always worth pointing out that at the age of 20, he only had an ECF grade of 160. Perhaps there is still hope for us all yet. Most importantly, this means I won my bet with Paul, who asserted that Howell was going to win the tournament, so I've at least made back £5 of the money I invested in the tournament.

Moving on to the Kenilworth games, as was mentioned yesterday, Paul needed a win today to qualify to play in the championship again next year. Playing black against FM Charles Storey, he seemed to get in trouble right out of the opening. His opponent had a very interesting idea against Paul's Nimzowitsch Defence, giving up both his bishops to shatter the black pawn structure. Having built up a very nice advantage, however, something strange started to happen, as he began playing faster and more carelessly, and started to allow Paul back into the game. Sadly, Paul's chances to equalise all came in his customary time trouble (after 22 moves Paul had two minutes left, and his opponent an hour and ten minutes), and he wasn't able to find the necessary moves. Sad to end on a defeat, but his overall 50% score is still a creditable performance (almost exactly what his grade would predict). And as for failing to qualify, would you really wish to spend your two week summer holiday in Bournemouth anyway. I'm sure Paul won't mind if I steal his own words to sum up the day:

"Finished the British Chess Championship with 5.5/11, a fair reflection of my pre-tournament ranking. Needed to win in the final round against FIDE Master Charlie Storey to finish on 6.5 points and secure qualification for next year's Championship, and ended up playing my worst game in the whole event. Even when he erred and gave me chances, I just couldn't pull the trigger. Deeply disappointed in myself. Fought my ass off for ten rounds in some terrific slugfests with almost all the games going the full distance, but when it really mattered I just didn't turn up..."

Mark, on the other hand, finished the tournament on a high, with his second straight win. His opponent was the promising junior Alex Golding, who began the tournament with some excellent results, but has been gradually going downhill since then. Almost the exact opposite of Mark in every way. In true junior style, his motivation appeared to have been slightly sapped by the final round, and he played the whole game at an unnecessarily fast pace. Perhaps his hope may have been to push Mark into the time trouble he has been getting into for much of the tournament, but the net result was simply to play some quite weak moves, which Mark took full advantage of. He was at least slightly better for almost the entire game, and made no mistake in converting his advantage. After a disastrous start, finishing on 4.5/11 represents a good recovery.

In my morning game, I tried to play sensible chess, got completely outplayed, and lost. In the afternoon, I think I may have been a bit demob happy, and the game took on a very Royal Oak appearance (my 8th, 9th and 10th moves were respectively g4, f4 and h4). Sadly, after this exciting start the game rather petered out, and a draw was agreed after little more than 30 moves. My overall percentage across all the games I played in the tournament (classical, rapid and blitz) was 53%, so I will consider that a success. Kenilworth as a team didn't quite make it to the 50% threshold (our performances in the blitz really let us down), but we did finish above 50% in classical chess.

Thanks to everyone for reading, and I look forward to reporting on the championships again in 30 years time, when it is next due back in the area.

Overall summary:
Total score by Kenilworth players: 56.5/121 (46.7%)
Total score by Kenilworth players in classical chess: 28.5/55 (51.8%)
Score against titled players: 1.5/7

My personal performance:
Played: 43
Wins: 19
Losses: 16
Draws: 8
Well played endgames: 13
Atrocious blunders: 11
Games won through opponent's illegal moves: 1

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