Draw Offers, "Joke" Titles and Beheadings
"For the crime of stealing a basket of dried fruit, I hereby sentence you to death." The King trembled in fury, for he was rather fond of dried fruit. The prisoner, for his part, trembled in fear and the courtiers trembled in awe. There was a lot of trembling in the court that day.
"Because of the dates you have stolen, you will not be informed of the date of your execution until that morning itself. Let the punishment fit the crime." The King smiled a satisfied smile as the court collectively suppressed groans. "You will be beheaded some time this week, and it will come as a surprise to you."
At this remark, the accused straightened suddenly. "But then you couldn't behead me on a Sunday, because if you hadn't beheaded me by Saturday night, then I'd know it would be Sunday and I wouldn't be surprised. And similarly, if I'm still alive after Friday, then I'd know Saturday's the day because it can't be Sunday. So by inductive reasoning, you could never execute me!" So saying, the doomed man clicked his heels and cartwheeled out of the court.
The courtiers looked to their King, fearful of how he would react to such a blatant display of smart-arsery. To their utter surprise, a gentle and enigmatic smile caressed his features. His crown glinted knowingly and fell from his head.
There were many prizes achievable at the 2015 Oceania Zonal, but of greatest interest were the CM, FM and IM titles on offer. Going into the tournament, I was more focused on playing some good chess, and avoiding quick draws. In each of my previous two tournaments played at long time controls, I had won two games, lost two games and drawn the rest. I started this tournament with stern resolve, grimly determined that this time would be different. The result? Two wins, two losses and five draws, three of which ended in fifteen moves or less.
It was easier to play for a win in the opening rounds, with relatively little at stake. I won my first game and then played a pretty decent game against FM Dusan Stojic, before I spoiled it with a horrific blunder.
I lost again in round three (continuing my legacy of scoring zero on double round days) but a win in round five brought me back to 50%.
EDIT: IM Max Illingworth annotated the round 3 game on his website: http://www.illingworthchess.com/1/post/2015/07/students-cm-successes-at-oceania-zonal.html
In round 7, I was held to a draw in a very instructive game, in that both myself and my opponent showed serious misunderstandings of the position.
Before the tournament, I had considered the CM title a bit of a joke. This mentality changed very quickly when it dawned on me that I might actually achieve it.
The final rounds then became an interesting exercise in game theory. Since you only needed 4.5/9 to earn the CM title, you could reasonably expect to agree a draw in the last round if you reached 4/8. And so if you were on 3.5/7, you might consider taking a quick draw, and similarly if you were on 3/6. I did in fact keep pressing for the win up until the penultimate round, when I took a draw in an unbalanced middlegame (I had a piece for three pawns) which would have been very easy for either side to lose.
The final round saw some 20-odd players on 4/8. By some fantastic coincidence, all of these games were agreed drawn within 20 minutes.
Overall, this was actually a pretty poor tournament for me with a performance rating of 1734 and not a single upset win or draw, despite my implementation of the classic "press with Black, hold with White" strategy ;) By some twist of fate, however, this was sufficient to earn the title of C̶o̶o̶k̶i̶e̶ ̶M̶o̶n̶s̶t̶e̶r̶ Candidate Master :)
The execution was carried out on a cloudy Wednesday morning, the prisoner's last words reportedly being "Say what?"