Saturday, July 29, 2017

Favourite Tournament

Do you have a favourite tournament? By that I mean is there any tournament that either you played in that sticks in your mind as being a great event for one reason or another, or one a great event from history. You could have performed amazingly, or the field or conditions were fantastic. And related to this, do you have a favourite tournament to follow? Is it a local event, a national championship, an annual supertournament, or anything else?

Currently, there are so many events happening around the world. This is what brought this question to my mind. The Match of the Millennials in USA sees a US team vs a World team at junior age group levels. Australia's very own prodigious talent, Anton Smirnov represents the World team, as does the Indian 11 year old star Pragga. This event can't help me thinking of the USSR vs Rest of the World matched from the 1970's and 1980's. I'm sure we'll look back at these kids when they become top players in 5-10 years time and reminisce a little, but I can't get too excited by this type of event.

I'm more excited by the British Championship which is starting later today. The national Championships of my birth country and my adopted country, Australia, are very important events for me, and I follow them both. Thankfully they happen at opposite times of the year, with the Australian Championship happening in January, giving me plenty of time to focus on them. In fact the 2016 Australian Championships was one of my better events over the years, and I hope to play in a few more championships in the coming years.

Even more immediate for me are local events, with the Victorian Championship currently in progress as well as many club events around Melbourne and Victoria. I'd have to sat tha my faourite event in the Victorian chess calendar is the MCC Club Championship which takes up the first quarter of the year. Although I haven't won it, I've finished near the top regularly, and it is a tournament where there is almost always IM opposition to face. This year I managed to finish third which was pretty good taking into account that it was a tough field. I also finished third in my most memorable Club Championship in 2008 which was won by Malcolm Pyke who scored a magnificent 8/9 to finish half a point clear of IM Guy West. Malcolm's perennial participation at the MCC will be sorely missed, and it was a great honour for me to win the tournament that was just held as his memorial at the MCC. More of that in a future post.

Of course, International events are great to follow. I have a soft spot for Hastings and Amsterdam having played memorable chess tournaments in both. I think Hastings tops it for me as the greatest,or at least, as my favourite. I remember sitting in the commentary room and being awestruck as Bent Larson just walked in and started talking about his game and the remaining games. This was years before internet coverage which sees this happen regularly, and was a special treat back in the 1980's. Hastings 1895 must go down as my favourite ever tournament. The cream of chess was playing, the games were great, the result was in doubt up till the very end, with the favourites not getting their own way. It had absolutely everything.

Anyway, what is your favourite tournament? One that you played in, one that you enjoy playing in, or International events that you love to watch, or your favourite from history?

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