Tuesday, July 24, 2012

British Champs and more...

...much, much more in fact! The blogs which I subscribed to in my last post have been unbelievably active and have turned over some very interesting things (to me at least). There were mixed reactions to the return to adjourned games which were held at the Amsterdam tournament last week, but I can't say I've seen much coverage of the positions that actually were adjourned in any games. Growing up in the pre-digital clock age, I well remember adjournments. As much as a pain as it was, especially travelling long distances to finish team games, I am certain that adjournments were a great tool for analysis. Studying positions in late middlegames and endgames really helps your chess, and in depth analysis of any position can only help your chess. The change in time controls came at a time when a big shift in opening theory was underway, and now knowledge of openings and opening preparation, along with tactical vision are the priorities in a players study.

On Alexandra Kosteniuk's blog I saw another interesting development in tournament chess, this time to do with scoring. At a tournament in the Philippines the scoring is as follows

2 points for a win
1 point for a draw
0 points for a loss

A stalemate, however, is split 1.5-0.5 with the player stalemated scoring 0.5.

This is an interesting attempt to keep games interesting longer, though it seems a bit harsh to me as some of the most beautiful combinations I've ever seen have been stalemate saves. To punish these in terms of points on the board doesn't seem right to me.

The British Championships started yesterday, and the 'local' blogs noted some controversy. Steve Giddins is disappointed by the strength of the event and he has a point. Although there are a strong group at the top, the event does have a rather long tail, not that I would begrudge these players a chance. It would just be good to see more of the 2300+ level players involved. In fact, the exclusivity of the Australian Championships with a minimum rating leads to a more top heavy field. It is, of course, a pay off either way, as here in Australia we have some people claiming the field is too limited. On the Streatham and Brixton blog, it's the ECF that is criticised (actually, it is on Giddins blog too) and the following question is raised:

"is the ECF an organisation that runs the game on a collective and open basis for the benefit of all of us, or is it the plaything of individual officers who are welcome to do whatever they might happen to feel like doing at any given moment?"

When I left England the English Chess Federation was a fledgeling organisation, I left in early 2005 and the ECF formed in 2004 to take over from the British Chess Federation. It seems that much has happened in the 7 years I've been abroad. I think I'll have to look into this in a bit more detail, as I'm now in a position to change my federation.

On to the Championship itself! The first round of any swiss is usually filled with a number of mismatches. However, the 2012 British Championship has a field of 62 players in an 11 round swiss, and it was decided to accelerate the event. I'm not much of a fan of acceleration and I'm not sure why this happened. If it has something to do with keeping strong players away from much weaker players, then the Championship should probably look at entry requirements rather than acceleration. Anyway, I was happy to see my 2 old mates scoring half points in the first round. Mike Surtees (2114) drew with Henrik Fabri (2004), while Don Mason drew with IM Richard Palliser. At the top none of the GM's lost, but not all of them won either. Late entry Stuart Conquest was held by Marcus Osborne, while in form Olympiad team member David Howell, was held by James Adair who is rated 350+ points below him. However it is a long event and early days.

Unfortunately for me, the games start at 2.15pm which is 11.15pm where I live, so I'll be seeing most of the games after they've been played. In the morning, the under 16 tournament is being broadcast live and this is a relatively strong event with 3 players rated 2000+. It is a small field but interesting as there isn't much between any of the players. I found these games interesting (I was watching these rather than the games in Biel with Carlsen et al) with some positions that I could use to help my own students. I was also happy to see a trap that I once used to pick up one of my first decent scalps back in the early 1980's. I was playing in the Basingstoke Championships against a strongish local player called Jim Calleja. The pattern was repeated yesterday.

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1 comment:

  1. "A stalemate, however, is split 1.5-0.5 with the player stalemated scoring 0.5."

    This just wrong - you may as well devalue theoretical draws such as king vs king + pawn and king vs bishop + wrong rook pawn as the stronger side can force stalemate in these cases.