This blog has been quiet for a few weeks, due to me being really ill. I was struggling to stay awake, and would tire out after the smallest of tasks, like taking a shower, for instance! The doctor gave me some medicine which helped to accentuate the general feeling of drowsiness, and I am just beginning to come out of it.
It was frustrating at the end of the MCC Championship for me. Before the start of the penultimate round I was in excellent shape, half a point behind the leaders, IM James Morris and the junior sensation of the tournament Vishal Bhat. I had to play white against Vishal and a win would leapfrog me over him. The game started ok for me, but the longer it went, the more difficult it became for me to stay focussed, or awake! When the going got tough, Vishal stepped up to the plate, played excellently, and I faded badly. His victory over me left him in first place, as James could only draw with IM Ari Dale. I had a funny conversation with James just before the penultimate round:
Me: "Hey James, just a heads up. I'm feeling like crap, and probably won't put up much of a fight. Don't expect me to do anything against Vishal today"
James: "You're not the only one who feels crap!"
Going into the last round, Vishal was leading the tournament with an amazing 7/8. James was clear second on 6.5, while IM Guy West had jumped to third with 6. I was sitting in a group on 5.5 including IM Rujevic, Pyke, Ly, and Eamonn O'Molloy who had a great win in round 8 against FM Jack Puccini.
This set up for a great finish in the last round, which unfortunately I was too ill to attend, giving Eamonn O'Molloy a free point and a brilliant finish of 6.5/9 for equal 3rd. But the main attention was on the top boards where all were wondering whether Vishal would put up probably the biggest shock result in MCC Championship history. Unfortunately this was not to be, as he came unstuck against Mirko Rujevic, allowing James Morris to win and jump above him into 1st. James was the big favourite for the event before the start, and his pedigree was further enhanced by his victory at Doeberl which caused a delay in the penultimate round being played. James was a fitting winner for the 150th MCC Championship.
Vishal still managed to finish a fantastic second place. Third was shared by stalwart IM's West and Rujevic, with Eamonn O'Molloy who also should be very happy with his performance. The strength in depth of the MCC is shown by the fact that players like Dale, Puccini, Gorka, Pyke couldn't find themselves in the places. The rating prizes were competitively fought and were won by:
Under 2000: Dizdarevic (playing against doctor's orders), Hibberd (making a welcome return to chess)
Under 1750: Harris, Beattie, Kaplan
Under 1500: Robert Frantzeskos
There is still the Brilliancy prize to be decided, which is being looked at and will be announced soon.