I was happy to return to the Turkish League for the second time, although the dates selected proved unfortunate for me as they were very unfriendly for both the World Open and the British Championship which I originally planned to play at least one of. My team ISEK Aquamatch was in optimistic mood as in my absence the previous year they had won the league but hopes of defending the title proved farfetched. Two years ago the top boards were considerably less tough as in the interim many teams had shrewdly recruited 2600 rated young foreigners. It’s easy to forget how many strong players there are out there that you may well not be aware of. I began with a sequence of five draws before finding someone in worse shape than me in the second game of the day in round 7.
In passing whilst it’s obviously undesirable to play 2 games in a day the ordeal could be minimised if some sensible rules regarding time controls were applied to this situation. I would think 90mins +30 secs for the whole game should be a maximum timelimit allowed for a double header.
The team situation was even worse with only one win in seven; I think four consecutive defeats might be a team worst for me. After a crisis meeting on the free day, (ironically in the Turkish League two double round days are neatly bisected by a free day as, if I understand it correctly, for some reason this allows the local participants to dodge military service) we established a new plan to avoid relegation which with four wins in the last six rounds we narrowly achieved. I actually won a couple of decent games against Tregubov and Safarli but managed to sour my tournament in the last round with a horrible blunder.
*For those of you wondering if my spellchecker is on the blink, tragesty was Julian Hodgson’s favourite description of such incidents, when someone informed him it was not a word, he replied that it was a cross between a travesty and a tragedy I’m sure the OED will catch up soon.