Preston Congress 2014
On the weekend of the 22nd/23rd November, I competed in the Preston Chess Congress. It was held in one of the UCLan buildings, near the city centre. I entered the Major (u170 ECF) section (u1975 FIDE), which saw a very strong turnout of 40 players (the congress as a whole attracted 140).
Round 1, as is traditional, was on Friday evening. Since I now live in Lancaster (around 20 miles north of Preston) and only finished my day at 5, I decided to take a first round half-point bye. So I arrived on Saturday morning fresh and ready for my first two games!
Time controls were: 40 moves in 100 minutes, and then 15 additional minutes to finish.
In Round 2, I was paired against Stuart Ross. In a Sicilian Kan, I managed to wrest the initiative around move 15 and played a pretty solid game to win. I did miss the cleanest win but by that point the position was already over.
A nice win to start my tournament!
Round 3, I was paired with Zhao Zhang, from the University of Warwick. Zhao is a strong player, but has a weakness - he moves far too fast! This can be unsettling, but the best idea is just to move at your own pace and find the flaws in the opponent's moves.
I used 35 minutes for that game, Zhao used just over 10. The lesson is - take your time!
2/2 on Saturday then! 2.5/3 overall, so a lot to play for on Sunday.
Sunday morning, I was paired against MJ Harris. This was quite a tense game, despite being so short. I built a centre and tried to push forward and attack with threats from my bishop pair. He tried to break my centre and get his knights to good squares. Just as I was wondering if the tide was turning against me, he suddenly missed a couple of tactics and had to resign.
An very unforunate turn of events for my opponent, but very fortunate for me! At 3.5/4 I was in the lead with two other people going into the money round.
Round 5 saw those other two paired against each other, whilst I faced Karl Potter, who was on 3/4. If I won, then it would mean at least a share of 1st, whereas a draw would guarantee a share of 2nd. A loss would probably have netted me a share of a grading prize, but I didn't countenance that!
The game is below.
Very solid from my opponent really, I saw no clear opportunities to try and put any real pressure.
So I ended up with 4/5 and a share of 2nd with one other person, which netted me a cheque for £75! Quite a good profit for a fun weekend and a very successful tournament for me. Thanks for reading!