You haven't heard?
Really? I can't believe you haven't heard. But then again, I suppose I have kept it rather quiet. Definitely low-key. Maybe not that many people know. Well, we'll come to that. It's just that I got to play an FM.
Actually it gets better. I solved a mystery last weekend. Everytime I go to a weekend chess event, I seem to get... well, I get... hmm, I guess there's no way to say this without it being just a little gross, I get spots across my forehead. Now, there was no way I'm going to chalk that up to the fact that on these weekends I eat too much, drink too much, sleep too little and generally suffer from atrocious hygiene. Oh no. That would require me to admit that I'm some sort of slob and that just isn't going to happen. Clearly I needed to be more creative with finding the cause. So how does this sound? At these events, I'm probably playing chess for between 6 and 9 hours a day, and of that, I'm usually concentrating at the board for about 50% of the time. Apparently I wander around a lot. Anyway, while I'm concentrating I tend to rest my head in my hands because that's just how I roll.
Yeah, like that. It hasn't been a great season.
For those without a mathematical leaning that means I'm in that position for up to 4 hours. Now see if you can do the same without getting spotty. What do you think? It makes perfect sense to me.
So back to the point of the blog.
Last weekend was the British University Champioship. You may recall in an earlier blog when I played for Bristol against the BUCA team, I whined about their surprising lack of students. I also whined about losing to them. Well this time there were quite a few more. In fact, given that the association only reformed 2 years ago at most, I was quite impressed with the number of universities that showed up. Even if some of them were utter rubbish.
This blazing inferno had "no impact on teaching". What does that say?
In the first round Bristol University (seeded 7th) were stitched up by having to play the top seed Oxford. Having had a little look at who they could field we knew we were likely to get stuffed. After all, I'd be playing against a FIDE Master on board 2. Their board 1 has wins against a whole bunch of GMs, including TL Petrosian! So yeah, I'd planned on playing Sicilians as black at the tournament, but I knew Ravi plays a King's Indian Attack against it which I didn't fancy so I decided on a Closed Spanish. Here it is (the time control was 60 minutes each, plus 10s per move):
After that triumph (seriously) of a 0.5-3.5 loss, we were given a bye (although we played the absurdly good scratch team) followed by the second seed, UCL 1. On the Sunday we were given Swansea against whom we only managed a draw (shame on our board 1) and then LSE where we redeemed ourselves with a solid 4-0.
For results, I managed to finish on 50% despite being outgraded by about 15 points in total, so I was chuffed, and Bristol came joint 6th so we beat our seeding!
(Edit: In October 2011 Ravindran Shanmugam attained the title of International Master, so this result obviously becomes even more stunning.)