From my results last year in the Ilford Chess Congress - no wins, five draws, and a loss that ended a thirteen game unbeaten streak - it may not be entirely obvious why I can call it one of my favourite tournaments. Nonetheless, it was. A pleasure to play in, the tournament was well-organised, with six rounds nicely spread over the Spring bank-holiday weekend, and just a quick and easy journey on the tube away. Plus, my opponents turned out to be considerably stronger than me - including two titled players - and so my 2½/6 was actually an over-performance grading-wise.
In short, I would recommend this Essex-organised event, and the details of this year's competition are now on-line. The 2008 event will run 24–26th May, again at the Redbridge Institute in Gants Hill, Ilford, with entry fees effectively ranging from £21 to £30. First Prize in the Open is £300, relatively generous compared to most similar events. Click here for more details and a link to the entry form.
To the left is my favourite moment from last year's competition. In this position I had the white pieces and it is my move; my opponent is FM Mark Lyell. The position is slightly better for black, in that, despite the fact it is undoubtedly a draw objectively, only black's pawns have real practical chances to promote or win material. After a long think I was pleased to find a clear way to sacrifice almost everything for a quick draw. 38. g6! Kf6 39. e4 ! Bxg6 Or 39...Bxe4 40.g7 etc. The black pieces cannot control enough squares to stop the knight penetrating once distracted by white's kingside pawns. 40. Nd5+ Ke5 41. Nc7 Were the bishop on f5, ..Bd7 would be possible here. 41... a6 42. Nxa6 Kd6 43. a4 bxa4 44. Nxc5 Kxc5 45. Kb2, and here I took out my earplugs. My opponent took this as a draw offer, and without saying a word stopped the clocks and held out his hand.
See also this, and this.