At the weekend I attended a big OTB tournament, the biggest tournament I've ever played in! It was the 35th Annual Chess Congress 2012 in Kidlington, Oxfordshire, held on 4th+5th February at Exeter Hall.
There were 5 games to be played across the 2 days, 3 games on Saturday and 2 games on Sunday. The time control was 105 minutes on each clock for all moves, so 3 and a half hours per game!
On Saturday round 1 was at 9.30am-1pm, round 2 was at 2pm-5.30pm, round 3 was at 6.30pm-10pm, then on Sunday round 4 was at 9.30am-1pm and finally round 5 was at 2pm-5.30pm with prize giving after all the games were finished. Although I was well-prepared for this tournament, it was still as physically demanding as it was mentally exhausting.
There were 4 seperate sections according to ECF grades, the U225's (2450 FIDE), the U180's (2090 FIDE), the U145's (1810 FIDE) and the U120's (1610 FIDE). I played in the U120's section as before the tournament my grade was 110 (1530 FIDE), I personally thought I stood a good chance of a top 3 finish... here is what happened!!
So I had a nice easy first round against a 75 ECF graded player, my plan was to quickly win my first game and then wake up properly and relax, preparing for a harder round 2 game.
Very pleased with this game! I have been having some good results with the black pieces and not only was this a win, it was a win against a higher-rated player (115 ECF) and my first upset of the tournament!
Another upset!! Beating another higher-rated player (114 ECF) over a very long and tiring game! This game went on for so long, I had about 20 minutes left on my clock and my opponent was down to about 3 minutes. This was definately my toughest win of my career so far, credit to my opponent he did fight hard, he even ended up finishing in 3rd place at the end of the tournament - his only loss was against me! This was also my favourite game of the tournament, by far the most exciting and tense game I've ever played!!
So at the end of Saturday, I was tied =1st place on 3/3 with 4 other people, I had everything to play for on Sunday. I went home and had a good nights' sleep and was prepared for a very hard round 4 match.
So although I lost this game, I lost to a higher-rated player (119 ECF) and my opponent went on to finish 2nd place, so I lost to a better player and there's no shame in that. I tried my hardest, my main blunder was allowing the queen trade, I shouldn't have tried attacking I should have just defended and held out for a draw.
My chances of a prize, =3rd place, sharing the £75 prize and getting a trophy all rested on this last game. I faced another 110 ECF rated player, it was all to play for.
So after I blundered a rook, I managed to equalize, and I thought a draw and 3.5 points would be enough for =3rd place... but I misread the round 4 notice and there were already 3 people on 4 points... I needed to win this game, I didn't know that, or I would have played on and tried for a win...
So in the end I finished =4th place on 3.5 points with about 7 others, 1st place was a 119 ECF graded player who won 5/5 - the blind man who I lost to at Didcot only a few weeks ago, my only loss was to the man who finished 2nd place with 4.5 points, and the man who finished 3rd place with 4 points, his only loss was against me!! My opponent in round 5 walked away with a prize for highest scoring veteran also finishing on 3.5 points. So, 3/5 of my opponents left the tournament with a prize...
Despite not walking away with a prize, I walked away knowing I still had a good tournament, I caused 2 upsets, my tournament performance rating was 127 ECF (1666 FIDE) which was better than all the other people who finished =4th place aswell, meaning I had harder games to get my 3.5 points than anyone else who got 3.5 points!
It was though, as an experience, an amazing weekend!! Not bad for someone who has only been playing chess properly as an adult for 1 year, I only had my first rated game just over 4 months ago...