"I don't actually like playing chess"
So said my friend and fellow blogger Morgan Daniels last Sunday. I'm not sure I'd agree with him entirely but certainly I think chess must be one of the most frustrating games to play.
Take the Paignton Congress which finished last Saturday. I ended up on 4.5/7 in the Challengers (u-180) section with a tournament performance rating of 174. That's a good 8 points above my new grade but I can't say I'm satisfied with the outcome, not even when I take into account the fact that I had a pretty tough draw. I played all of the top three finishers - I believe I was the only person who did so - and also had games against one of two winners of the 154-161 grading prize, the winner of the u-154 grading prize and the winner of the slow starter prize.
Six of my seven opponents took home prize money while I won precisely bugger all - which is why I'm not particularly happy with my +2 result. I had started very well, reaching four out of five, but then rather collapsed. Far from being pleased with my performance all I'm seeing is a missed opportunity and a 4th equal finish that 'should' have been a share of second place at worst. Such is the nature of tournament chess I suppose.
Higher up the food chain the Open was won by Keith Arkell and our own Angus French, to whom we are indebted for the photographs in today's post, secured a share of the grading prize with 4/7.
My poor finish notwithstanding, I have to say that the tournament was well run in pleasant conditions and I very much intend to return for the 60th Paignton Congress next year.
Here's one of my favourite games.
Immediately afterwards I was rather pleased with the way I had consistently prosecuted a long-term plan of pressuring White on the queenside. Needless to say, it didn't take long with Fritz to see that actually I hadn't played very well at all! Like I said, chess is just inherently frustrating.
Here I played 16 ... Nxe5, 17 dxe5 Bb4, 18 Rf1 Rxc1, 19 Bxc1 Qc5 to gain control of the c-file, the sequence based on the fact that White Queen cannot recapture on c1 because Black could then take on e2. It's a decent plan but Black has a much better idea available.
In this position I played 23 ... e3 with the idea of a future ... Qd2 when White can't take because of ... exd2 and ... Rc1 when Black will make a new queen. Again it's not a bad plan but once more there's an immediate win there for the taking. It's a slightly tougher tactical sequence than the previous example but still well within my capabilities and I should have spotted it.
This one's less clear cut. I swung my rook over to c8 but perhaps there's something better here? I'm not sure. It was definitely another tactical sequence that I missed but perhaps here it's not so much driving home an advantage as much as forcing White into a worse but possibly drawable ending?
The last round. Somebody in this picture was one of my opponents at Coulsdon, 2000