Accidentally qualifying for the British

Feb 9, 2016, 7:40 AM |

The ECF Grading Database reliably informs me that the last individual weekend tournament I attended was an U150/U1750 in July 2013. I was lucky enough to win that section with more than my fair share of luck. Having suffered a disastrous grade decline in the last six months which I'm blaming mostly on inactivity, I decided my near three year hiatus had been quite long enough.

I entered the Kidlington Chess Tournament under the assumption I would be in the U180, but due to its proximity to the release of the January grades, they were using the previous summer's numbers which undeservedly bumped me up to the top section (U225).

Not to ruin the surprise but in the first round, I was paired with the top seed and eventual 5/5 winner of the tournament. I had a cramped position throughout and under subsequent time pressure managed to fluff my single opportunity at getting into the game. Well, enjoy!

It was a disappointing start, but I wasn't too hard on myself. After all, I played rather better than I had in the previous six months. Next I just needed to get some points.

Round 2 was the only game in which I wasn't out-graded and this time I had the white pieces.

Thanks to some experience in the line and some poor form on my part, I only had about three moves in which I was really playing chess rather than running on autopilot. I thought this would mean I'd have more energy for the rarely enjoyed third round. I was spectacularly mistaken.

It may seem as if I had more than my fair share of luck in that game, but I still had some in reserve for round 5. Meanwhile, it was nearly 22:00 and I wanted to go and get some rest!

Round 4 began bright and early at 9:30 and this time I was back to being thoroughly out-graded. I knew that my opponent played practically everything and decided to just go with the flow. Besides, I'd already got 2 points which was already above the statistically expected 1.5/5 for the weekend.

Suddenly I found myself on 3/4 and sharing joint 2nd with a handful of other players, all a full point behind Pavel. At this point I realised I could actually hope for a respectable placing and perhaps even the vacant British Championships qualifying spot, given that many of the competing juniors had already qualified. Though failing that, a quick draw to round out the weekend did hold some allure. Unfortunately, I had been paired against the FIDE Master 2nd seed.

With my luck now all but gone, I was pretty chuffed to have turned out a 209 performance against nearly 190-strength opposition and finishing on 3.5/5. As a surprise bonus, I had finished joint 3rd behind 2 juniors already qualified for the British Championships. With a score of 70% that entitles me to a place.

Regardless of whether perform well or not, I think that'll warrant a blog entry.