There is some truth to the idea that the strength of a player can be judged by the things they miss. Today I played in a tournament for the first time in a year and although I did better than I expected, in all of the games I missed fairly obvious things. The tournament was played at the Melbourne Chess Club and involved groups of 4 players in round robin format. The event is called a "quad" and, assuming the players are of an equal strength, is an excellent format for a one day tournament. Today, 8 players turned up so there were 2 sections played at a rate of 60 minutes + 20 seconds increment per move. Although this is a fairly fast time control in longplay terms, it is still long enough for the games to be rated on the ACF standard list. So these were the first games I'd played that were rated under this system for the past year.
To be honest, it felt good to be back at the MCC in a playing capacity. There have been times during my self imposed exile when I've considered caving in, coughing up the money to FIDE, and playing again. Then the chess world does something to make me wonder whether I really want to contribute to it and I feel good about myself. The latest news story involves Andrew Paulson, the guy who was supposedly hired by FIDE to arrange, organise and set up the Candidates matches and World Championship with great promises of increased interest in chess from the wider world. Well, something happened that is somewhat mysterious, but the end result is that Andrew Paulson now has nothing to do with these events, or FIDE it would seem. Except that yesterday, he was elected President of the English Federation. Now I have no problem with Mr Paulson, but why are the English Chess Federation electing an American as President, when there are plenty of good English administrators around? I hope that Mr. Paulson will do good for English chess, but the cynic in me can't help feeling he has his own motives in becoming President of the ECF, and I guess we'll see what they are in the next year.
Anyway, enough moaning and on to the chess. In the first round I played pretty well as black against Dmitry Partsi, and was probably better when I allowed a perpetual. So I can notch my first 'miss' of the day down to not looking at all my opponent's checks.
No worries, the other game between Jack Puccini and Sylvester Urban was also a draw so we were all tied after one game. In game 2 I had white and was lucky that my opponent, Sylvester Urban blundered an important pawn early in the game. Even then, I missed a check later in the game and was lucky to be far enough ahead for it not to matter.
Never mind, I should count myself lucky to have missed 2 such simple moves and be on 1.5/2. At this point I found myself equal first with Dimitry who had beaten Jack Puccini. In the final round the 2 leaders both had black and both of us lost. I don't know about Dmitry, but I was smashed! This time I missed a pretty nice blocking manouvre which completely destroyed my king's meagre shelter.
So not bad for the first real chess in a year. I won one, drew one and lost one, missing one rather monumental move for my opponent in each game! The tournament was great fun, and the fact that it ended in a 4-way tie for equal first was pretty fitting as no one was dominant. The second section was jointly won by Ben Frayle and Endre Simon 2/3 ahead of Surjeet Singh 1.5, and Daniel Dobos .5, and looked to be just as fiercely competitive.