Tuesday, 10 July 2018

That Really Hurt - Day 4 at the World Seniors' Team Championships

I am writing this in a darkened room in a state of some distress, after an agonizing loss by me cost England 2 victory in our match against Post SV Ulm - and yes that is the Ulm Post Office/Mail Sports Club. Pretty strong those Ulm posties, I can tell you. It was an epic game where I chanced my arm in the opening; got away with it; and after finally equalizing (or so I think, the silicon beast has not yet been unleashed to shatter my illusions), I then seemed to gain the advantage in a rook and same bishop ending. My opponent had connected passed g and h pawns, and I had connected passed d and e pawns. Regrettably the outside pawns won the day after around 5 hours of suffering. So only 2-2 in our match, where my loss was balanced by a crushing win for us on top board.

Andy's day was much less eventful, as he drew against 87 year old (!!) IM Edwin Bhend of Switzerland in 12 moves - or was it 12 minutes? Possibly both. This is a man who once beat Tal (with Black!), drew with Fischer and played in 12 Olympiads for Switzerland. Andy has done none of these things, but he used his 20 years advantage remorselessly to get a draw. The England 2 o-65s drew the match 2-2 thanks to 4 draws against higher rated opposition. But Andy's was by far the quickest, so at least KCC has something to be proud of today. Tomorrow Andy's team play against Leipzig Chess Friends, which is a nice name for a club, don't you think? Kenilworth Chess Friends, anybody?!

Meanwhile Bernard has kept his 50% score by taking another day off. In fact his entire England 4 team took the day off as they had the bye. The 4-0 win they got for this has propelled them up the table and, rumour has it, Bernard is actually going to have to play a game of chess tomorrow rather than go shopping (!) - which is what he has done today.

In the massive Board 1 encounters for the two England 1 teams, there was good news and bad news today. The o-50 boys upset the top seeded USA team thanks to a solitary win by John Emms on Board 2 over Joel Benjamin. Jon Speelman very nearly beat Shabalov with Black, so this was a pretty emphatic win even if the margin was ultimately the smallest possible. Not such good news in the o-65s, where unsurprisingly England went down to number 1 seeds and defending champions Russia. A win for Nigel Povah on Board 3 was more than offset by losses on Boards 1 and 4, for a narrow defeat.

That's a pretty comprehensive round up of today's action, only made possible by the fact that its raining (bet you can't say the same!) and I've decided to have a rest from sightseeing and take it easy this afternoon. But of course, I still have to report on last night's Blitz tournament, where it seems I had too little faith in our brave boys. Despite playing atrociously to begin with (including a loss to Shveshnikov, who he didn't even recognise!), Andy recovered in  the last few rounds to end on 4.5/9 (52nd place). When you sink low enough in the tournament, you will eventually get some friendly pairings. Like this!

Bernard defied all my expectations by scoring an excellent 4/9 for 61st place and got to play a couple of titled players. He was generally playing much tougher opposition than Andy, but while he may lack in recent standard play practice, he is the veteran of a zillion Thursday evening blitz games. Just goes to prove - you can take the man out of The Gauntlet, but you can't take The Gauntlet out of the man!

A few minutes later, Bernard had his first ever international victory!

A few minutes after this, Andy had another loss to add to his tally!

The overall event was won jointly by Keith Arkell and a Leipzig Chess Friend with 8/9. 5 GMs, 5 IMs and oodles of FMs took part in a total field of exactly 100.

The crucial top board Round 9 encounter between Keith Arkell and Jim Plaskett about to start. Meanwhile a Leipzig Chess Friend adjusts the pieces on Board 2, and Mark Hebden looks longingly towards the bar on Board 4!

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