photo of empty playing hall

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.   Having two different time controls in the same event isn’t the kind of thing that would happen in the World Championship cycle – er – maybe not.

The chess was going rather similar to Croatia, with the difference that it was only four and a half days of suffering instead of 12 – in all my 4 draws I was on the back foot most of the way, which left me trailing the leaders throughout but early in the afternoon on the last day things perked up a little.

In the last round I was upfloated yet again, but rather more welcome was the fact that this resulted in a double white, although this helped me more than the 6/7 clubhouse leader Giorgi Kacheishvili who didn’t add to his score despite also having 2 whites on the last day. I’ll just give the moves here as my comments will appear in Chess Life and in next week’s Telegraph Column.