I wonder if I'm alone in not always feeling 100% like playing chess. For instance, over the past couple of weeks I've been quite busy with work, and when I arrived at the Melbourne Chess Club last night I was not really in the mood to play chess. I had not prepared at all and felt more like having a night off. However, when you've committed to a tournament you have no choice but to play. In some respects I was lucky as my opponent, Malcolm Pyke, had concussion earlier in the day and also didn't feel like playing, but felt he had to turn up and try his best. So when I took a risk and offered him an early draw after just 15 moves, it didn't take him long to shake my hand and we were resetting the pieces. From a competitive point of view, the draw did neither of us any favours, as both of us were half a point behind current leaders of the City of Melbourne Open, Ari Dale and Justin Penrose. Ari took full advantage of this beating Justin and now stands a full point clear of the field with only 2 games to go. Malcolm, Justin and myself are in joint second as none of the chasing pack could win to catch up. However, just half a point behind are a group of 6 players. The winner of the tournament will definitely come from this group, but Ari must now be a firm favourite, and has control of his own destiny in this event, while the rest of us are hoping that results go our way.
I must say that after the dull World Championship, the chess world was treated to some absolutely great fighting chess in the Tal Memorial. It is really great when a whole tournament is exciting, from the first round to the last, and even before the last round the winner was in doubt. If a tournament book of this event was published, I wouldn't hesitate to buy it. In fact, of all genre of chess books, tournament books are my favourites. My all time favourite book is Bronstein's monster account of the Zurich 1953 Candidates tournament. As a young player this was a great inspiration to me. So I was very happy to see that me favourite tournament has another classic book written about it, by another competitor Miguel Najdorf. Najdorf's account was in Spanish and has only recently been translated into English. It is a book that I had to have, and I hope it provides the same inspiration that Bronstein's account did. While many of the games will be familiar to me, I am sure Najdorf's particular style will show them in a different light to Bronstein. Anyway, I am very excited to be waiting for this book's delivery.
And to finish with, a couple of WTF's....
FIDE President visits Syria
FIDE bans arbiters