Sunday, 17 July 2016

Scottish Championships 2016 - And finally...

It's finally over.  It i 11:45pm, I have just finished and submitted the FIDE grading, put news articles on the Chess Scotland website, sent in the grading (and corrected it as I had made the inevitable mistake), uploaded the photos from the prize giving.  I have 2 jobs left one I am doing now and one I will deal with tomorrow.  I have to combine the pgn file and upload it to FIDE.  Quite honestly I am now in automatic pilot and I know Alex is the same.  For some mad reason I did not take tomorrow off work.  I wish I had as after the last three weeks I am really feeling it.  I suspect I am going to be there in body only.

Well we did it.  Another Scottish Championship completed.  Granted it was not the event we hoped it would be.  We had no idea there was going to be a rail strike and the clockwork orange would be off for a month.  Talk about working against us!

For the first time in a year, I played a graded main list game.  There was a bye in the Minor and I reckoned on having enough time to play the game quickly and still have enough to set everything up.  I sat down at the board and then I realised just how tired I was when my opponent played 1.d4 and I immediately replied 1..d5 instead of my usual 1..Nc6.  Aaarrggh I am playing the Englund Gambit (something I played about 10 years ago with relatively good sucess).  I thankfully won!

Thinking back over the last 9 days, it has been good.  I have enjoyed it.  There has been some incredible performances and some really good chess

I want to thank Lara for suggesting a picture.  At the end she suggested getting the trophy holders together.  Brilliant idea and I'm glad one of us was thinking!

Well we have a champion.  For the 3rd time GM Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant has prevailed and on 7/9 it is quite an impressive score!

The overall winner was GM Matthew Turner on 7.5/9

We had Joint Seniors Champions this year with GM Colin McNab and IM Stephen Mannion sharing the title (the one in the middle is not the Senior Champion, I'd love to know what he said to them!)

Declan Shafi and Murad Abdulla are the Scottish Boys Champions

The Girls Champion is Rachel Smith

And the player of the year was last years Champion, FM Neil Berry

We spent all tournament trying to keep Alasdair and Euan Dawson apart, unfortunately we didn't check the weekend major draw as the last round saw father playing son.  Talk about a lose lose for dad!

As always we are looking for feedback from the players on how it went, things you would like to see done differently and things we can improve.  I did ask Calum...

Well thats all for this year.  Thanks to everyone for a fun tournament and  your kind comments about the blog.  If everything goes to plan (and that will be a first!) we will be in Dundee next year.  Knowing our luck, we plan for Dundee and will no doubt be playing in Hawick!

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Scottish Championships 2016 - Days 7 and 8 - The day after the night before

As predicted, tiredness and other duties got between me and writing a blog last night.  I got in after play and promptly fell asleep where I was sitting!

First order of business, we have some winners to celebrate.

The winner of the 7 Day tournament was George Murphy with an excellent 6.5/7

2nd was James Watson on 6/7

The U1500 winners were David Watson, Bernard Cassidy and Iain Hope on 3.5/7

I had a bit of a scare yesterday about 20 minutes before play started.  Could not get the large tv to work.  After a quick check I noticed that windows 10 had downloaded a new update


Got the games working in time.

Last night saw the start of the weekender.  As a wee bonus we played the top 14 matches on the live boards with the same setup we use for the Open, TV and all.  Quite a few came up to me yesterday and today to tell me that they loved it and would love to do it again!  More than happy to oblige if I get the chance.

You can tell it has been a long tournament and tiredness is starting to kick in with the players as well.  This has lead to some rather "interesting" positions including this unfortunate miniature

The game ended 18. Nfg5 Nxd4 19. Rxf8+ Rxf8 20. Bxh7+ Kh8 21. Qh5 Rf2+ 22. Bxf2 Bxg5 23. Nxg5.  Happens to the best of us unfortunately.

Today was the penultimate day of the Championships.  Not the best time for my tablet to bluescreen in the middle of play meaning we lost the game between Douglas Bryson and Daniel Gormally!!

With the Daniel and Matthew winning, we now have 2 outright leaders on 6.5 and the chasing pack a mere half point behind.

Chasing the Scottish Title, we have Alan and Keti on 6 points Dougie Bryson, Alan Grant, Colin McNab, Stephen Mannion and Declan Shafi on 5.5.  It will be one of those 8 who will be crowned Scottish Champion!

It has been quite a remarkable turn around for young Declan, it does not seem that long ago (2013) that we were presenting him the Primary Individual championship trophy and here he is on the last day with a chance of becoming Scottish Champion.

I think it is fair to say I have been really impressed with all of our Juniors this year in the Scottish.  Declan with a 2200 performace, Lukah with a 2050, Rachel with an 1850, Jake 1850 to name but a few.  For those going on to the Glorney / Faber please take your form with you and bring home the cups!  If anything exemplifies why I like this format for the Scottish I will always say, Neil getting his norm last year and the performance of our Juniors this year.  That makes it worth the effort to try and find sponsorship for the event!!  It really is just a matter of time now before one of our current crop makes the breakthrough and wins it.  Who will it be?  I would not bet against any of those playing this year!!!

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Scottish Championship 2016 - Day 6 - When will I learn?

We have a maxim in Engineering.  If it aint broke, don't fix it.  Wise words indeed.  Last couple of days we have had 13 stable boards.  13 is my lucky number so I should have stayed there.  No I wanted to try and get another on to give us 14.  I arrived early and wired up another board.  After an hour of testing, it was working fine.  Play starts and the wired boards kept switching themselves off.  I have spend all day keeping a close eye on the boards because of this!

Today was the penultimate game of the 7 day event.  I don't think I am being unkind when I say that the event has been dominated by 2 players.  Leading on 5.5 we have George Murphy and closely following is James Watson.

By this time tomorrow we will know which of these fine Gentlemen will win the 7 day event.

In the Open, the joint leaders face each other on the top Board.  Keti and Colin will be battling it out to try and remain ahead of the chasing pack.

In the chasing pack is one of our Juniors.  It does not seem that long ago that Declan was winning the primary individual.

Rating performance of 2240, facing his second GM and on a very creditable 4.5/6.  A very excellent performance from Declan to date

To be honest we have had some really good performances in the first 5 rounds from our juniors.  Lukah (3/6) has a 2000 performance rating, and there are several on 2.5/6 with 18-1900 performances.  It is really good to see them doing well in the Scottish.

I was alerted to one of those strange and curious things that can happen.  I have to confess to doing this myself in a league game to the bemusement of the opposition.

The following position arose

White has 2 sensible options Kb1 (+8.65 on the very basic engine I just downloaded) or Kd2 (+4.31).  Incredibly white took the third option and resigned.  Like I mentioned, I did something very similar years ago and was kicking myself for ages after.  Definitely a sore one!

If you have been looking at the photos, you will notice there is a very cheery chap each day, Steven Brown

There is a story behind this.  Apparently he got a hard time for not smiling when I took the picture on Saturday...

When he did it on Sunday, I could hardly hold the camera for laughing :D  The look up and smile has been one of the highlights of the day so I have tried to catch him unawares.  Got him today (and I hope he does not get into trouble for it)

Tomorrow sees the day we dread.  the start of the Weekender meaning we don't get to leave until after 11pm.  I will try to get a blog out but chances are it will be Saturday before I do!

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Scottish Championships 2016 - Day 5 - A slip of the tongue!

I knew today was going to be different.  It all started when I woke up and was totally convinced it was Tuesday.  I always seem to suffer a strange time dilation during the Scottish.  Dropping the kids off at my parents, my mum warned me to my horror that I had split my shorts.  No time to head home and change and the only shop I can think of to buy a pair is Marks and Spencer (that legendary pairing Alex and I have been trying to get in the Scottish for years). Now I am not the smallest of people so finding shorts my size is usually a frustrating task.  Doesn't help when the shorts they had were either a size too small or a size too large.  Thankfully I found a pair that were the right size and the players were spared the sight of me walking around with masking tape covering an area they would not want to see (and as it turned out, the masking tape disappeared so would have been even more embarrassing!)

I like my designer clothes.  My brand of choice is George from Asda :p

I had an interesting conversation today with someone who will remain unnamed. They were trying to describe a form of chess and could not remember the name.  The comment "I am thinking of womens knickers" was made and we all melted.  Wasn't quite what they meant to say (We were talking about Basque Chess)!!!  They will not live that one down for a while.

I do like it when players give us feedback, both good and bad.  Take for example today.  One of the players mentioned they could not get the games to display on their Ipad as it does not have flash.  As quick as a flash (sorry) we put links up so they can be displayed on Ipads.

I have been trying to get photos of everyone who is taking part.  I thought I had succeeded until  David Watson mentioned to me today that he was missing but he was glad.  I really need to redress the balance so here is David playing today

So what happened on the chess front?  Well firstly the boards behaved themsgame of elves again and I am thinking of putting another one on tomorrow.  On board 1 not a lot happened.  Draw in 16 moves.  The first (and hopefully last) in the tournament so far.

The rest of the games were hard fought and we saw some really good chess.  My game of the day was  another draw, this time a 74 move cracker between IM Douglas Bryson and Richard Birkett.

We join the game at move 60.  Douglas has an "Interesting" pawn structure

I don't know what I expected here, I certainly did not expect the Bxg5 that was played!  The plan is simple, white liquidates the black pawns leaving g3 and h3.  The question is can white actually win from here.

The answer is yes if black does not play accurately.  I was following the game using tablebases so could see what was happening,  The only chance that Richard gave came on move 62.

Richard has just played Kd5.  This was the only mistake he made.  It left a mate in 26 left on the board.  I challenge anyone to find it (I will put the solution at the end of the blog).  This is why I love increments.  The quality of the endgames is a joy to behold.

Keti and Andy gave me a scare today.  There is a wee bug that can happen in the wired boards where the previous game gets played.  I scanned through the games quite early on and saw this

There is a distinct lack of pieces and not what I was seeing on the other boards.  Thinking the bug had struck, I searched the boards memory to restart the game in the correct place.  To my relief this was the correct position!

We also had our first 100+ move game of the tournament.  The temptation to tell Alex that the board had failed and he was going to have to type it in!

Here's hoping the chess tomorrow is just as good and we have as many fighting games as today

Mr Knight says "No more short draws!"

(Solution to mate in 26  63. h4 Nf7 64. h5 Kd6 65. Kf6 Ke7 66. h6 Kf8 67. h7 Ne5+ 68. Kf5 Kg7 69. Kxe5 Kh8 70. g4 Kxh7 71. Kf6 Kh6 72. g5+ Kh7 73.Kf7 Kh8 74. Kg6 Kg8 75. Kh6 Kf7 76. Kh7 Kf8 76. g5 Ke7 77. g7 Kd6 78 g8=Q and white can win at worst 9 moves later)

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Scottish Championships 2016 - Day 4 - The Big Guns Face Off!

What an absolute treat we had today as the big guns started to play each other.  No GM draws here, each hard fought and to the bitter end.

For tactical players like myself the game between GM Matthew Turner and IM Stephen Mannion had a beautiful combination finish combining three tactical motifs. It's move 54 and black to move

Matthew plays the Knight sac 54.. Nxg4.  Play continues 55.hxg4 h3+ moving the king away from g2  56.Kg3 Qf1 57.Nh4 Bd4 58.Qd2 Qg2+ 59.Kxh3 Bxf2 beautifully obstructing the queen.  Going to use this position with the kids when the club starts back!

Whilst this was going on Keti was giving a masterclass in endgames.  We join the game on move 77 (yes 77!)  with black to move

h2 and the king is locked in.  All Keti needs to do it get the Knight to f2 and it is mate.  Not an easy task!

Try working it out.  What was played can be seen on todays live games but it was really good to watch.

So here are my 2 star players today.  Take a bow

On the whole, today went really well.  Lets be honest, after yesterday anything was an improvement.  I think the boards heard my threat to bring in an axe and behaved themselves.

There was a moment that I can only describe as OMG!  I happened to look up from the desk and to my utter horror I saw this

The cable had become detached from the table and was sitting across Neils legs!!  To be fair to Neil, he didn't complain but the second he got up from the table to stretch his legs, I was over with masking tape to fasten it back again so it did not annoy him!

Tomorrow sees what could be some cracking games.  I am certainly looking forward to them.

A feature of the Scottish in recent years has been the unbearable heat.  Thankfully it seems to be staying away making playing conditions pleasant.  Long may that continue!

Monday, 11 July 2016

Scottish Championships 2016 - Day 3 - Did I really say that?

To quote from yesterday "Overall not a bad day at all.  No real disasters and everything running smoothly.  It won't last :D"

Hmm, to quote from one Rudyard Kipling (no not the one who makes exceedingly good cakes!)  "If you can meet with triumph and disaster, and treat those two imposers just the same..."

I don't know where to start.  Headed to the venue with cables for the boards and a cable for the TV so we can show the games within the venue.  Wired it all up and...

No boards

90 minutes later and several cables thrown across the hall in complete temper and we have

No boards

"Ok, lets go back to the set up from yesterday and just use that" I think in desperation.  It would have worked had I not been ripping cables out with reckless abandon...

16 boards now down to 11.  But hey at least it is 11 boards!  I noticed one of the wireless boards battery packs charge level was lower than I felt comfortable with.  I had a full set completely charged but in my idiocy, grabbed the still hot ones out of the charger and changed them over completely forgetting the simple law of physics, hot metal objects expand.  The batteries cooled in the pack and yep you guessed it, just as play starts, popped out of the connector meaning we are now down to 10 boards.

And to make the morning really complete, board 1, the top board decided to disconnect at the start of play.  *sigh* Not my finest morning.  I got 9 boards going in the end!

In true Murphy style, the day finished as it started.  Alex, Ken and I did the draw, I put it into the computer to upload but thankfully checked for any anomalies.  There is was, I had marked the score on two of the pairing cards 0-0 and of course it affected most of the draw.  Redraw time...

I picked the wrong day to stop sniffing glue :p

Star of the day has to be Lukah Connolly-Sams.  Sitting with 2/3, half a point behind the leaders with a performance of 2149.  His grade is 1498 and today he drew with an IM!!  Lukah is 1/2 v 2100s!!  A simply outstanding performance.  His prize is a game against a 2200 and having seen him play the last couple of days, I fancy his chances!!

The 7 day event produced something really unusual.  When arbiting you think you have seen it all.  When I was alerted to this I really had to share.

We start with the position here, black has just sacrificed the bishop for a pawn (Bxg4)

After hxg4, Qxg4 and now it is 2 pawns for the bishop

A few moves later, pawn #3 comes off with Qxd3

e4 Qxf3, Nxf3 and pawn 4 comes off with Nxe4

Several moves later, the 5th pawn comes off to Bxf4

The 6th to Bxa3

And the final one to Bxb4

7 pawns for a bishop!!!  I'll take that anytime (I think my record is 5).  I think someone has been reading "Secrets of Pawnless Engames" by Nunn

And finally...

It has to be frustrating when you take 2 byes at the start only to find you are playing your clubmate in round 3.

Yep it happened today...

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Scottish Championships 2016 - Day 2 - Ok, what's going on???

Day 2 has been completed. I am sitting at home and it is not even 7pm? This is the second day that we have finished early! This never happens, with the increment, we often are sitting there waiting for games to finish way past 7:30, neve rmind having the draw done, posted and safely home! (please note this is not a complaint, we are just puzzled). I wonder if today could have had something to do with people wanting to watch..

After the experience of Helensburgh 3 years ago, we thought it might be prudent to put the match on one of the TVs.  Good idea in practice but I could not find an HDMI cable anywhere to connect my tablet to the TV.  Sadly players had to crowd round my tablet to watch Andy roar to victory :D  Well done Andy!!!

Of course the downside is it is in the playing hall and we had to be silent.

Today has been a massive improvement on yesterday.  Lets face it, it could not have been any worse :p  I checked the house last night and found 4 cat 5 cables which meant we could have 12 boards today!   Popping into work tomorrow to grab some more so I can wire up the remaining boards giving us a total of 16.

On the playing front, we have three leaders on 2/2.  Matthew Turner, Andy Muir, Andrew Newton and our perpetual champion, Roddie McKay

Of interest in the chasing pack is young Lukah Connolly-Sams.  Lukah is graded a mere 1498.  I say mere as he has scored 1.5/2 against a 1800 and a 2101!  Tomorrow sees Lukah facing a titled opponent in IM Mark Orr.  I'll be watching that one with interest.

In the 7 day tournament we have the two leaders playing against each other.  James Watson and George Murphy

In George Square (see, George is such a Gentleman, they named a Square in Glasgow after him), we have the Homeless World Cup.  All day we have been treated to various national anthems and some really good support.  Sounds like a fantastic event (and it is free to get in).  It goes on for another week and I would recommend popping along if you get the chance.

Overall not a bad day at all.  No real disasters and everything running smoothly.  It won't last :D

Time for a bit of relaxation, some football on the TV and up early to go and get the remaining cables for tomorrow