Game against a Grandmaster

Game against a Grandmaster

Oct 14, 2015, 7:27 PM |

My record against master level players (without sounding crude) is REALLY BAD! Prior to my first ever game against a Grandmaster, albeit in a simul, I had gone +0=0-4 against masters who had chastised me with their superior skill

When I was around 16 I competed in my first simultaneous display. At the time my grade was roughly 77 ECF and I had limited experience of OTB play (in fact I had only played 4 games OTB). The following miniature was a game I played against a player whom I pressume was a master (I can't remember his name):

The game stuck with me not only because I was beaten pretty quickly by a master, but because of it I ensured that I would never fall for the cheap tactics of the dreaded move b4! Till this day however, I am yet to see this move being played against me OTB again.

Fast-forward to present-day and I had the honour of playing Keith Arkell (GM) who is currently the 12th best player in the country. He was a player who had competed with some of the best players in the world! He had even beaten players like Bent Larsen, Magnus Carlsen and Michael Adams, whom many chess players would dream of playing, let alone beating them!

On a Tuesday afternoon, I eagerly jumped on the train for a 45 minute journey (sad I know) to the Rhyl and Prestatyn club, where the action was taking place. Although I was nearly an hour early to the event, some club members there there setting-up while none other than Keith Arkell was playing friendly blitz games against the local club members (winning every single friendly of course despite only giving himself only a minute to win!).In the end around 16 players turned up, many from the Rhyl and Prestatyn club and some from other local clubs.

Unlike my past self I had improved immensely from my 4 move loss. My grade now currently stands at 123 ECF and my Welsh grade had gone up to 1659 (from 1381) in under 3 years! This time, prior to the match, I felt more comfortable despite the odds being stacked firmly against me:

  Me Keith
Rating (ECF) 123  241
Tournament wins 1* (The Rhyl Minor section...) 320 (standard play tournaments as of 2012)
Age when we started to play chess 5 13
Fullhead of hair? Yes No

Nonetheless, as this table shows, I was not at a complete disadvantage and I hoped that my full head of hair would yeild me some slight advantage over Keith...

At 7pm the simul. begun. Tables from the club were arranged in such a way to surround the Grandmaster, reminding almost of that famous scene in "Kill Bill Vol. 1":

Keith represented by Uma Thurman of course...

And without further ado, here is my game:

So far so good... Although my position was a lot more passive than Arkell's, at least I wasn't really far behind in material or losing in four moves! 
For your own entertainment, let's see if you can see the mate in 7!
It was pretty clear that at this point Arkell was going to win very soon so here is the rest of the onslaught:
And in just over an hour or so my match against a Grandmaster ended. Nonetheless there are still lessons to take from this game that I will hope to apply into my future games:
Lessons to be learned

- Personal taste: Don't castle against the London System. It just gives White a clear target of attack which can be hard to parry (as my game shows). My reading of the London System suggests that I should always be one move away from castle but only do it once the dust has settled a little.

- Play the game not the player. A pretty obvious cliche that has been echoed a billion times at any local chess club. However, as you can tell I was, like any player given the oppurtunity, excited to play a Grandmaster. If I stuck to my original strategies I would have fared a lot better.

- Fight for Activity! In this game I let my opponent dictate the game. In one position in particular, I could have gone down a pawn but would have had a much more active position. 

Keith Arkell would end up getting a perfect score beating every single one of us. Nonetheless it was definitely an exciting encounter to play someone of such a high calibre. Despite my fairly long trip to the club I did not leave empty handed and left with a copy of Arkell's autobiography. It is essentially an insight into the life of a Grandmaster and definitely a good read for anyone interested in persuing that lifestyle:
I hope by reading it Arkell will not be as lucky when we meet again!