Archive for the ‘Tournaments’ Category

European Club Cup 2013

Tuesday, November 12th, 2013

For the second time in three years, we sent a team to play in the European Club Cup. This years’ event was held in the splendid Rodos Palace Hotel in Rhodes, from October 19-27. We qualified as Richardson winners, and were joined by runners up Edinburgh West. We had an average rating of 2136, making us 43rd seeds out of the 53 Teams in the Open section. Here are my highlights:

1. Winning! We won 3 matches 3.5-2.5, which meant we finished in 33rd place. This was double our points total from last time (although we had a kinder draw this time around). Edinburgh West player John Watkins remarked that winning a game in the ECC was similar to winning a game in the Edinburgh Premier League. He meant it as a compliment…I guess we don’t have to face the mighty Edinburgh 1 so don’t have the same perspective!

2. Rubbing shoulders with the stars. It was nice having all the games in the one hall, and almost all of the Teams staying in the same Hotel. During meal times you would always see a number of galacticos. This extended to the local bars, where various groups of chess players gathered to watch the Champions League football matches or just unwind. Ukrainian GM Anton Korobov had the unfortunate experience of witnessing one of our worst pieces of analysis

3. The Morra Gambit! Well, not really, but it provided us with our first individual win, the following fine attacking effort from David Oswald:

19.g5! hxg5? [Too compliant.]

[19…Nd4 was better. The position is messy – White has a strong attack but Black has counterplay.]

20.hxg5 Bxg5 21.Rh1 [White’s attack flows naturally.]

21…Bxe3 22.Qxe3 Nd4! [The best try. Black combines an attack on the ?c4 with defensive resources such as …Nxf5–h6 or …Qg5+–h6 in some variations.]

23.Bd3! [The most impressive move of the game. White takes a time out to move his attacked Bishop, while preventing …Nxf5 and creating a new threat of f6. A very hard move to find when ‘mid combination’.]

[Neither 23.Qh3 Qg5+; nor 23.Ne4 Nxf5 work for White.]

23…e4 24.Bxe4 d5 25.Rh5 [25.Rxh7+ mates immediately, but the move played is plenty good enough to win.]

25…dxe4 26.Rch1 Kg8 27.Rxh7 f6 28.Rh8+ Kf7 29.Rxf8+ winning either the Queen or the Knight on d4. Black resigned. 1–0

Match Results:

Rd1: Reichenstein SSB (SUI) 4.5-1.5 Edinburgh
Rd2: Edinburgh 3.5-2.5 SV Voerendaal / KNSB (NED)
Rd3: Edinburgh 1.5-4.5 SK 47 Eynatten (BEL)
Rd4: Eppingen (GER) 2.5-3.5 Edinburgh
Rd5: White Rose (ENG) 3.5-2.5 Edinburgh
Rd6: Edinburgh 3.5-2.5 Adare (IRL)
Rd7: ASI Bologna (ITA) 4-2 Edinburgh

Individual scores:

1. Clement Sreeves 2.5/7
2. Calum MacQueen 3.5/7
3. Neil Berry 3.5/7
4. David Oswald 4/7
5. Alastair White 1/7
6. Chris Sykes 3.5/7

http://euro2013.chessdom.com/

Andorra!

Wednesday, September 4th, 2013

A few years ago I used to make an annual summer trip to a tournament on mainland Europe. Destinations included the Czech Republic, Denmark, Romania and Latvia. These events provided an opportunity to visit somewhere new and play against different players). With cheap flights making more and more of Europe easily accessible, it was good value and more interesting when compared against playing somewhere like the British. It’s been a few years since I played abroad in the summer. Part of this was due to the reinvigoration of the Scottish Championship, but also many of the group I went to these events with had either other interests or commitments that meant they were no longer willing or able to play.

Former club member Duncan Grassie was one of the group. Duncan hasn’t played much recently due to focussing on his other hobby (Orienteering), but primarily due to work commitments and moving abroad. Duncan decided it would be nice to have something of a ‘reunion’ this year, and a few of us were keen to play, so we decided on a tournament in Andorra. There wasn’t a huge amount of thinking behind the choice – the tournament itself was pretty strong (at least at the top), none of us had been before and travel seemed reasonably easy. It was an inspired choice.

Thanks to word of mouth and social media, our small group grew. And grew. The final count was 19 Scots entering the tournament – outnumbering the number of Andorrans(!). 10 of those were from Edinburgh Chess Club – myself, Calum MacQueen, Clement Sreeves, Adam Bremner, Andrew Green, Daniel McGowan, David Oswald, Hugh Brechin, Graeme Kafka and David Robertson. All of us performed well without perhaps hitting our absolute best form. Top Scot was Jonathan Edwards, who finished on 6/9. Jonathan is a former Tiger Cub, so perhaps we should claim a bit of credit for his result! Anyway, the event is strongly recommended to those searching for a summer tournament.

Armageddon Chess at Edinburgh CC

Tuesday, July 16th, 2013

Armageddon Chess is a relatively recent phenomenon, but I’m not sure exactly who invented it.  The concept is this: the game must produce a decisive result.  Black has draw odds, and to compensate this White has extra time.  It is often used in knockout tournaments as a “tiebreak of last resort”, if the players cannot be split by a series of tiebreak games with shorter and shorter time controls.  In this case usually White has 6 minutes to Black’s 5, or perhaps 5 v 4.  It has even appeared in the World Championship regulations.  While this might sound like a ridiculous way to decide a World Championship match (it is), there have been plenty of examples of worse.  The most famous is probably the Smyslov-Hubner Candidates quarter final in 1983 being decided by the roll of the roulette ball (although the ball landed on zero first time!).

A few years ago the US Championship introduced Armageddon into their event, albeit with a twist.  After 8 rounds of a normal Swiss, the top 4 players would qualify for the Armageddon playoff, with 2 semis and a final.  The time control was slightly different, with White having a fixed time (of say 30 minutes – I can’t recall the exact details) and players ‘bidding’ for the Black pieces.  The player with the lowest bid would ‘win’ the Black pieces and draw odds, but would start the game with their bid against White’s full allocation.

Edinburgh Chess Club member David Oswald has organised 2 similar Weekend events at the club – the so-called Elite Armageddon events.  After a 4 round Swiss, players are split into groups of 4 according to finishing places to play a semi-final and final/ playoff (although most of the prizes are for the top group only).  Here White has 45 minutes to start with.  There has been a huge variance in strategy, with a number of players bidding 45 minutes to secure White, right down to the bidding style of Andrew “the 14 minute man” Green.  My own preference has been somewhere in the middle.  I had the opportunity to ask a couple of the strongest players on the planet (!) after the Scottish Blitz this year what they might bid.  Their verdict was that it would hugely depend on the situation and how you were feeling at that moment.  Or they were sitting on the fence!

Both events have been won by Alan Tate of Wandering Dragons.  Alan is generally one of the 45 minute bidders (although he did go a bit lower against me in the final of the first event).  In the final of the second against GM Keti Arakhamia-Grant both players bid 45 minutes!  In this case, the rules allow for one resubmission should players wish to alter their bid.    Again, both players bid 45 minutes.  There was then a coin toss to decide who was to get White.  This got me thinking.  If both players wanted White and bid 45 minutes, then why not reverse the auction?  So for the second bid, players would bid for White.  Would the players actually be willing to take less time and give draw odds just for the White pieces?  Food for thought.

To finish, here is a position from the second Armageddon event.  The result of Oswald-Groves probably had no bearing on the final positions, but was still dramatic…

Black played 1…Nxg4, and after 2.Rxh7+ Kg6 3.Rhg7+ Kh6 the move 4.hxg4?? allowed Black to draw immediately with 4…Qh1+! 5.Kg3 Qg2+! 6.Kf4 Qf3+!