Back to the Isle of Man
I had a hectic day prior to the tournament, playing a simul in the afternoon, where I vanquished all but organiser Alan Ormsby – his only mistake was to offer a draw in the final position! Then in the evening the chess poker began, like last year I didn’t fare well in the blitz section getting outplayed with White against Radoslav Jedynak in the second round, strangely the next game with Black v Pentala Harikrishna was my only really convincing win in the blitz, and also his only setback throughout the entire event. I also lost to Simon Williams in round 5 – still 4/6 was an improvement on 3/5. My starting table was mainly experienced poker players this time, but at some stage I picked up a lot of big hands, and made it to the final table with a decent stack, David Howell, Chris Duncan and Harikrishna were amongst the stronger chess players there. Things continued to go well and I was chipleader with 3 players left, but lost a big pot to the other big stack of eventual winner poker pro Kenneth Chih-Hung who played on the same table as me throughout and was a nice chap.
I didn’t get to bed until almost 3 am, which is not exactly my usual time to retire and had a rematch with Radoslav Jedynak in round 1. This time some opening prep helped me to a quick win and I adjourned for a siesta. I reached 2.5/3 but had an off day against Hrant Melkumyan which you can’t afford if you want to win Opens. I had a lucky break the next day when I was already winning by move 8 after Alan Merry forgot about a standard trick in the Scandinavian. The following day was a chance to close in on the leaders, like last year I played Avital Boruchovsky, I felt I was putting on some pressure, but my opponent and computer assessments remained unimpressed. I won a long game the next day where a king and pawn endgame was hard to assess:
Two solid draws followed so I finished on 6/9 again, but enjoyed the pleasant atmosphere at the tournament and especially the chesspoker and am very pleased to be returning for the next edition in October.