Johnny Marr Allegro 2013


Johnny Marr (1917-2011) was a noted club player in Edinburgh. I did not know him well but did play him in league matches a couple of times. Once, just at the point when I thought I had a winnable position against him but was very nervous about blundering at the crucial point, he moved my own piece into checkmate against his king for me. Very sporting.

He died in 2011 after being a member of Edinburgh Chess Club for several decades. There is now a plaque to his memory on their wall, and today the first annual Johnny Marr Allegro was played - A five-round Swiss tournament of 30-minute games.

Under Allegro rules you don't have to write the moves down. I used to, but found myself getting into time trouble, so reluctantly stopped. Which is a pity, because I would like to be able to post all my games here. I got three wins out of five, and the only one I have the record of (courtesy of my opponent) is one of the losses.

Round 1: Robin Johnson (1123) v Calum Watt (1655) 0-1

Round 2: Douglas Heatie (1524) v Robin Johnson (1123) 0-1

Much nicer. A King's Indian Defence in which White castled queenside then put his queen on c2, directly in front of his king. I got my rook onto c8 and half-opened the file, allowing for plenty of tactics up the c-file. Eventually ended in checkmate after some nice tactics. Mentally filed under I Wish I'd Written This One Down.

Round 3: Robin Johnson (1123) v Walter Pearson (1496) 1-0

Another English, which got quickly into some sharp tactics which I was focused enough to work out accurately. At one point I attempted to move a bishop but my hand went to the rook instead and had a short rules-lawyer argument where I wasn't sure what the word 'intentionally' in the entry in the FIDE rules about touch-move implied in this case. The rook could only go back to its home square, which wasted me some time and might have made things slightly more elegant later, but in the end I got the exchange and an unstoppable pair of passed pawns, and my opponent resigned.

Round 4: Charlie Nisbet (1513) v Robin Johnson (1123) 1-0

Another King's Indian Defence. The second time Charlie has steamrolled me, and I remain unavenged. I was too deep in my own plan for it to occur to me that my opponent might have a different one. I resigned in the face of tactical disaster.

Round 5: Robin Johnson (1123) v Jim Crawford (1158) 1-0

Got my payback for my last game against Jim, which did not go so well for me. This was another English. I should look at varying my openings as White more - I've been enjoying the Stonewall Attack recently a lot on FICS and at the club, but daren't quite play it in a "proper" game yet - but why throw it away when it's served me well twice today already? Jim found a safe way to bring his queen out early and kept me very cramped for space in the early game. I managed to get a rook on b7 which he should probably have swapped off, but didn't. I think I can remember the final stroke:

I am not at all sure I have remembered the whole position correctly, but this is the gist of it. The moves are definitely: 1.Nd6 Qxd6 2.Qxf7+ and White resigned.

If Black had played something like 1...Rf8 to stop the mate, I think 2.Nxf7 still wins: for example, 2...h6 (to avoid Philidor's mate) and 3.Ne5+ wins the queen.

Across the whole day, I make that a performance average of 1549, which I can be pleased with. There is another Allegro in Edinburgh next Saturday, courtesy of the Civil Service club, which I've put my hat in the ring for.