Wednesday, 29 July 2020

July 2020 Grading List - KCC Report Card

Maybe it will come as a big surprise (it certainly did to me), but there is a new grading list out, as a reminder that some over the board chess was indeed played in the first half of 2020. Even though it feels as though we have been in suspended animation for years and years.

Another surprise is that collectively, KCC has had a "good lockdown", as we have far more risers (13) than fallers (8) in the latest list, perhaps indicating, as our esteemed Webmaster pointed out to me, that we should strive to play as little chess as possible, since this is clearly the secret to becoming stronger. Or at least higher graded, which is perhaps a more realistic ambition.

The phenomenon that is Jude topped the KCC performance charts in the latest list, somehow registering another double digit grade increase - which don't forget actually only represents about 10 weeks of competitive chess. This takes his rating rise to 69 points in the last 24 months! And he added another 9 points to his rapid play grade, though here he was exceeded by Billy who went +11.

Jude now sits at the top of both the standard and rapid play English national rankings for his age group (Under 11), while Billy is 2nd/3rd on the two national lists in the Under 9 age group. This is really quite amazing and we should all be very proud of their remarkable achievements.

Our other junior players also kept going in the right direction, with William at +4 (hardly a fair reward for a 100% seasonal score (5/5) for us!) and Vincent (making his debut on the list as a Kenilworth player, and also scoring 100% for us, with 2/2) at +5. Noah has also got his first ever grading and comes onto the list at a very respectable initial level. However, our almost no-longer-a-junior, David, showed early signs of transforming into an old codger by (a) not playing any/many games and (b) keeping his grade exactly where it was 6 months ago. Could these  two facts possibly be linked in some way?

Top of the Form

Jude                           +12
The Club Organiser    + 6
Lionel                         + 5
Vincent                       + 5
Andy B                       + 4
William                       + 4
Chris                           + 3
Joshua                        + 3
Dave                           + 2
Drago                         + 2
Phil                             + 2
Billy                            + 1
Paul                            + 1

No change

Andrew P
Andy W
Bernard R

New Kid in Town


On the Naughty Step

Bruce                          - 8
Ed                               - 6
Ben                             - 5
Mike                           - 2
Nick                            - 2
Roy                             - 2
Bernard C                   - 1
Tony                           - 1

Amongst the real old codgers I emerged as the best performer (admittedly several miles behind Jude!), though I think my +6 result owes more to them finding my lost grading points from before Xmas than for my achievements in 2020. Excellent gains were also recorded by Lionel, Andy B, Joshua and Chris, and a shout out to Dave, Drago, Phil and Paul who all saw rating gains in the new list.

The club collectively gained 50 points, while losing 27, for a nett gain of 23. We still have 28 people on the active grading list, since while Steve, Stuart and Matt have all fallen into the inactive category, they have been balanced by Lionel, Noah and Vincent.

There has been a complete transformation at the top of the club ranking list, as perennial Top Dog (an official title, in case you were wondering!) Paul, has seen himself fall to an unprecedented 4th place, behind yours truly, Andy B and Andrew P.  But I'm sure the natural order of things will be restored once normal chess activity resumes. Until then, I will try to stay humble and promise not to remind people that I am currently Kenilworth Top Dog ......  more than once a week. Nor will I mention that my "reign" (does that word indicate delusions of grandeur?) as Joint British 65+ Champion has been extended to 2 years. The M in my initials could almost stand for Modesty, he said modestly.

No less than 6 of our number managed to keep their grades static, which can mainly be attributed to inactivity. Of course, we're all inactive at the moment, but the Static 6, as I like to think of them, all seem to have anticipated the shut down and gone into OTB hibernation early. Let's hope that when the metaphorical spring arrives they will emerge from their burrows - just like Punxsutawney Phil! I fear, though, that Algis has played his last game for the club, as he has returned to Lithuania for his new job. Good luck Algis, and it has been a pleasure to have you in the club for the last few years. And Drago's move to London means that he is unlikely to be able to play for us in the near future, at the very least, which will be a big loss to the club. Though Joshua manages to lead a double life between places about 100 miles apart, so if he tried.....?

As if that wasn't sad enough, I now have to turn to the part of these bi-annual reports which deals with the laggards and under-performers who have lost grading points in the last 6 months. But only by exposing this group to public naming and shaming are they likely to be motivated to reverse the decline and stop bringing shame on themselves and the club. This may seem harsh, but compared to the show trials/kangaroo courts I have been contemplating I think they are getting off lightly!

I don't know how Bruce managed to rack up such a large grading decline in the new list, but at least we can all draw comfort from the fact that none of that loss came in KCC matches! I am also pretty sure that most of Ed's loss was not achieved when playing for us, but the same almost certainly does not apply to Ben. Clearly work and literary pressures were getting to him in the early part of the year!

Well, its anyone's guess at the moment whether there will be a January 2021 grading list - and even if there is, it will surely look a lot like the July 2020 one. So we will probably be carrying these grades around with us for longer than usual. For some reason, I quite like that thought!

Saturday, 18 July 2020

Wafer Thin

The mighty KCC went down by the agonising score of 10.5-9.5 in our ground breaking, inter-regional encounter with Harrogate Archbishops on Thursday evening. The two teams looked very closely matched on paper, and so it proved in practice, as there was hardly a sheet of Andrex or a wafer thin mint between us at the end.

(The appropriate video clip could have been inserted here - but its not in  the best of taste, so I rather surprisingly decided to restrain myself!)

With 10 boards in action, it was impossible for me to work out what was going on during the match, especially as I was engaged in two protracted struggles that totalled 176 moves over the two games, which left me totally exhausted.

We played 2 x 15 minute +10 seconds games each on Lichess, with the following results:-

Kenilworth            Harrogate Archbishops

1 Paul                     Mate Ther                      0.5 - 1.5
2 Mark                   Leon Wooldridge           1.5 - 0.5
3 Joshua                 Mick Stokes                      0 - 2
4 Mike                    Paul Pritchard                1.5 - 0.5
5 Jude                    Jonathan Round              0.5 - 1.5
6 Bernard C           Clifford Marcus              0.5 - 1.5
7 Ed                       Brian Coop                        1 - 1
8 Ben                     Steve Revell                      2 - 0
9 Bernard R           David Harasym                 2 - 0
10 Billy                 Cameron Funnell               0 - 2

As is inevitable in relatively quick chess, a number of games had the wrong result! Some of us got very lucky - myself included, as I briefly went to -13 in my first game before drawing! (having been +5 a moment earlier). Bernard R, who clocked up a tremendous 2-0 score from his lowly berth on Board 9, was incredibly fortunate in round 2, but his first game was a real tour de force, and almost qualified as game of the match. Ben also went 2-0 for us, and mixed one convincing win with one fortuitous one, but poor old Joshua went against the trend and managed to lose two winning positions! The first game was excellent and he was totally in control until it went horribly wrong, and the second was also winning - albeit briefly - until his rooks on g2 and a8 were cruelly skewered by a White queen on b7!

It was great to have both our young guns in the team, with Jude playing way up there on Board 5, only to run into Harrogate's two time (and reigning) blitz champion. He found a great save in Game 1 to secure perpetual from a lost position, and was close to a draw for much of  Game 2 as well. Billy was heavily out-graded on Board 10, but came within touching distance of a draw in Game 1, and very nearly landed a killer blow to White's wandering King in Game 2, after throwing the kitchen sink at his opponent.

Mike racked up an excellent 1.5 points, although he was in dire straits (ie lost!) in Game 1, and worse at times in Game 2 before taking control and finding a very nice combo to finish the game. Ed split the points with an old friend on Board 7 via two draws - though the result in both bordered on the miraculous, as he seemed to be totally lost each time! Bernard C should have split the points on Board 6, but after going down in the first game his strong opening play in the return (which won an exchange very quickly) was not followed up, and he was first losing before reaching another difficult, but apparently, winning position late on, that then slipped away to a draw.

Having played through all the games, though, I can safely say that by far the best chess was played on Board 1, where - alas - Paul was edged out by Harrogate's star teenager. He just came up short in game 1 with Black, where the players engaged in a lengthy bout of tactics that White handled excellently, but Game 2 was a real tragedy after he achieved an overwhelming position right out of the opening. In big time pressure Paul went all in only to have to take a perpetual, when a calmer approach would probably have brought home the win that his energetic play really deserved.  This game was the best of the match in my opinion. But don't take my word for it - take a look for yourselves!

One that got away for Paul, but still the best result he has achieved for the Club in 3 years!!

And a final reminder that the game was played to raise money for the NHS, and specifically the Harrogate Hospital and Community Charity, and anyone who would like to contribute can still do so here. The total raised as I write this (July 18th) is a remarkable £301.95 - or over £370 with Gift Aid.

For a friendly, especially online and with a rapid time limit, this was quite an intensive competitive experience, for which many thanks to Harrogate, and especially my friend Mick Stokes, the Archbishops' Captain. I can't promise the same each time, but we have more friendlies lined up in the coming weeks against the Isle of Wight and Stockport where we can but hope the results will be different! And after that ..... who knows?? Maybe its time to think of going international?!

Tuesday, 14 July 2020

Game of the Month, July 2020

Looking through the previous instalments in this series, I was shocked to discover that I have made less appearances in it than a certain Roy Watson. Which can't be right, on any number of levels.

So, to right this egregious wrong, I have dusted off one of my own games, from an altogether distant past. And not just any game, but one which I have long considered to be amongst the best games I have ever played. In fact, maybe the best.

It was played in New York, two days after my 30th birthday, in a 5 round Swiss played on successive Wednesday nights at The Game Room in Upper Broadway. Amazingly, I came first with 4/5 (including a half point bye) winning the princely sum of $100 (and given that sterling was having a very bad time of it around then, that was not far off £100.)

My opponent subsequently became an IM, and was the top seed in the tournament with a USCF rating of 2388 at the time, so this was a very satisfying win for me. Especially when you see the way it happened!

* This is the 12th instalment in the Game of the Month series, and the roll call of appearances now reads:-

Andy B 3 (+2 -1)
Mark 2 (+2)
Roy 2 (+1 -1)
Ben 1 (+1)
Bernard C 1 (+1)
Carl 1 (+1)
David P 1 (-1)
Jude 1 (+1)

Given current levels of OTB activity, I suspect I may soon be at the top of this leader board, faute de mieux. (Look it up!!)