It’s slightly later than planned but today we have the final report on the S&BCC mid-season Rapidplay which took place on Tuesday and Thursday last week.
Congratulations go to Alan Hayward who scored three wins out of three on the second day to finish a point clear of the field on 5.5/6. If you play all your nearest rivals and you give up just a solitary draw there’s little doubt that you’re a deserving winner. Last summer Alan was leading the club championship going into the fifth round but then came up against the John Bennet Gambit and his challenge rather faded away. I’m sure his victory last week will more than make up for that disappointment.
The final scores were ...
5.5 – Alan H
4.5 – Martin S, Andrew P
4.0 – Jan K
3.5 – Morgan D
3.0 - Jonathan B, Gary S, Ash K
2.5 – Robert B, Dave H
2.0 – Angus F (3 games), Barry B, David S, Stan R
1.0 – Dean L-M (3 games)
0.0 – Marc P
Aside from Alan’s win we should give an honourable mention to Jan’s third place finish. I’m pretty sure it’s the best ever performance of one of the library players at one of our rapidplay events. As for the leader at the half-way stage ... well let's just say your humble scribe failed to trouble the scorers in the remainder of the tournament.
One of the things I had trouble with, both in our event and at the Richmond Rapidplay on Sunday, was striking the right balance between the need to think and the need to move. Take the following position from my round 4 S&BCCMSR game against Andrew Ponting ...
This is a fairly standard position from one of my pet lines in the French. The only difference is that the light-squared bishops have already left the board which should in principle favour Black. Anyhoo, Andrew has just played 12. Bd2 leaving me with the choice of trying to snatch the c-pawn or castling.
Taking on c2 is often suicidal in this line but I felt it should be possible here although I also thought it would be risky. A few minutes of reflection didn't change this assessment in the slightest so I decided to go 12. ... O-O as the safer option. I should probably have just done that straightaway, either that snap off the pawn and trust my intuition that I'd be able to find some moves for Black regardless of how White would respond. Either way I would have been able to move more or less instantly. I certainly would have been glad to have the extra time on my clock later on.
From the diagram above, one possible line of play was 12 ... Qxc2, 13 Rc1 Qe4+, 14 Ne2 O-O.
Now 15 f3 doesn't trap the queen (as I'd thought it would at the time) but how about 15 Rc7? In fact although it looks pretty dangerous the tactics seem to work out and Black's fine.
How does Black respond to the rook invasion?
So not the greatest second half of a tournament for me but that's the nature of quickplay events I suppose. There will always be plenty of ups and downs in this form of chess and it certainly could have been worse for me.
Take this game, one of the very last to finish in the whole tournament. With both flags hanging it seemed that either side could lose on time at any moment.
If "!" means good move and "?" means bad move, what's the symbol for "oh dear"?