Friends, brothers, comrades - well at least this is how the late (and great) Christopher Hitchens would typically begin one of his hypnotizing monologues. I, however, not only lack the oratory genius of the aforesaid, but feel compelled to stay true to my East London roots and greet you all with the rather unsophisticated "alright?" and trust that you are all in good spirits.
This is my first blog for chess.com, and I'm delighted to say that I will be working closely with the site over the forthcoming months, so keep your eyes peeled for more blogs/video lectures/tutorials and other material that I plan to produce very soon indeed!
I'd also like to ask you all to bear with me if my English is not up to scratch today, for I have already devoured a few pints of Guinness (it is true that it does taste a lot better in Ireland) at the splendid Bunratty Castle Hotel - home to the one-of-a-kind Bunratty weekender, a 6 round swiss which has attracted some of the world’s best over the years, this edition being no exception! Super GMs Adams and Short are the top seeds this time around, and even the likes of Svidler, McShane, Benjamin and Jones have participated in what can safely be called the most sociable tournament in the chess calendar.
I should probably point out that the reason why I am allowing myself a few pints of Guinness before the next round (yes there is another game later today, and I could even be paired against Messrs Adams or Short) is not because I see myself as the chess equivalent of George Best, but rather, and what makes this tournament so unique, because it is not FIDE rated and, as a result, sinking a few shandys before, during or after the game is highly encouraged! Even ex-world champion and GM Veselin Topalov has come down for the weekend to indulge and soak up the atmosphere, another demonstration of just how well loved this tournament really is!
I plan to post a more detailed blog once the tournament has finished, when I will have hopefully won a prize, but if not, certainly sunk a fair few more pints. Until then, however, I’d like to bid you all farewell and hope you enjoy your weekend.