Archive for June, 2010

Number Crunching

Lets return as promised to Open Tournament number 2, the European Individual Championship in Rijeka.  Here things defaulted back to my traditional open routine, as despite starting with 3.5/4 I was out of the money even before the last round began. This was a ridiculously strong event in relation to the prize fund, perhaps as several federation’s cover all the player’s expenses. The ECF doesn’t prioritize the event in the same way, so it isn’t a greatly appealing event for English players and this was the first time I had played. The event is one way to qualify for the World Cup but perhaps given the continually ‘evolving’ status of that event most players didn’t seem too interested in this preferring to throw the dice hoping for a big payday instead. In general the organisers did a decent job, but the bus transfers between the hotels and playing hall left a lot to be desired especially given the transfer fees they had received from the participants. The unseasonably cold weather with snow on some days didn’t add much to this aspect of the tournament either.

I did achieve one curiosity, my second round game reminded me of a game from the dim and distant past. John Emms achieved an impressively spectacular drop in computer evaluation (despite retaining a winning position) in his game with Fressinet back in the Istanbul Olympiad when he erred on his 30th move.

I was intrigued by this and was always on the lookout for similar “achievements”, but was unaware my second round game had thrown up a similar curiosity until I saw Mig mention it in his Blog.

In the game after some cooperative play from my opponent, I had managed to remedy a fairly dodgy opening and put the boot in on the kingside, strangely again it is the 30th move that sends the numbers tumbling like BP’s share price. Read the rest of this entry »

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Chess in the US of A

I’ll post something about the European individual in Rijeka in a bit but will try and get a little more current with the Chicago Open. This was my first open event in the US since the New York Open in 1996.  Not much had changed, as just as in that event Loek van Wely won the tournament with 7.5/9 and I ended up in a tie for second with 7.
In the US you supply your own playing apparatus, which seems to confuse a lot of people, despite it being fairly unsubtly covered on the entry form with the phrase ‘bring your own set and board’. Another oddity is the ‘time delay’ time control, instead of adding time per move, the clock is ‘frozen’, in this case by 5 seconds per move, and only after this pause does your time begin to tick down again. It seems to be a sop to those who cannot manage their time properly when increments are not possible due to the tight playing schedule. At least that is the theory I think. In practise I did not get to experience this at all as my opponents were either equipmentally challenged or tardy (being punctual seems to almost guarantee using your own gear – see photo) or both and my aged DGT did not support this ground breaking innovation.   Read the rest of this entry »

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Take me out to the Ballgame

Our first live baseball game, the Florida Marlins vs Milwaukee Brewers on 3rd June (played at the Miami Dolphins stadium – I think they are building a new baseball stadium), was very enjoyable and not just for the hot dogs and beer. One thing that was striking was the extreme ease with which the catches were taken. Steepling hits that would have challenged the fielders in cricket were repeatedly pouched with casual nonchalance – the gloves make a big difference. Clearing the fences wasn’t easy, several good looking connections just resulted in catches in the deep, although I think another game between the same teams a few days earlier finished 13-5. The stadium was pretty quiet throughout but suddenly erupted a few balls before the end of the game as the home team closed in on victory.  Oh and  I think it would be a good idea for Somerset to employ some cheerleaders!


A Good Start to the Year

My blog seems to have been suffering from lethargy writer’s block but it is now up and running. I am recapping a few events going back to the start of the year, when by happy coincidence I managed to win a tournament. For a long time open tournaments were a rare feature in my schedule, but this year I have already taken part in three and have at least one more to go. In my infrequent appearances I seem to recall a history of good starts tailing away to insipid finishes often leaving me just short of the major prizes.Missed opportunities in rounds 6 and 7 of Gibraltar seemed part of a worryingly familiar dismal pattern, so it was a very pleasant surprise to stagger over the finish line in front. Gibraltar is by the way an excellent event with friendly organisation and very decent weather for the time of year and of course a chance to get up close and personal with the Barbary Macaques. I look forward to defending my title (sadly not something I can say often) next year.

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