Thanks to Alex Conway for this report. The title to this post links to the Taunton Club website.
It is Saturday the 17th of April and we have just returned from a full days Chess in Teignmouth. I had arranged to get there in Mike Richardt’s Car (skippy, aww) which lead to us somehow arriving at the venue before anybody else! This of course leaves Taunton players in a position to clinch a large percentage as so far myself David Littlejohns, Mike Richardt and an in form Martin Worrall were the only people at a school in Teignmouth. I’m not entirely sure of the name of said school, but it was on the whole a nice playing environment with good lighting, enough space for a tournament of ample size to be held and even a school canteen that was able to cater for around 100 people. The canteen was today filled with sugary snacks, tea, coffee, energy drinks... Unfortunately our eager Taunton players were not yet allowed in to get their necessary caffeine fix as there was no way of us getting in! After relaxing ourselves into some seats within range of what we believed to be the playing area more people steadily trickled in that some of our players recognised to be here for some kind of chess event!
This lead to us eventually getting in to the playing hall itself and after some rushed entries from myself and Dave we were ready to play some chess. Since then we had also been joined by Roger Waters, Mike Ward and the formidable appearance of Mike Redman whose likelihood of turning up had been surrounded in smoke and mirrors!?!? Was he coming from Scotland, Exmouth, not at all? Clearly he was always going to be playing today and was in his usual kind of tournament mood; “100% or nothing”.
Shaping up to be an interesting contest, even if it would be just between those fine players of Taunton. The format was to be a 6 round Swiss tournament, where each player would have just 30 minutes for all of their moves with no increments per move and no additions to this 30 minutes for any endgames. Excellent, rapidplay as it should be done! It also emerged that Martin, Myself, Roger and Mike ward would be playing in the major section which was for those with a rapidplay grade under 145 along with about 40 other players of a similar calibre. Mike Richardt, Mike Redman and David Littlejohns would all be in the open section, which does what it say on the tin in the sense that it is open to anyone. In that case our big guns flexed their guns and waited eagerly to see just who was on the open pairing board. Personally I knew very few of the players that were participating, but recognised a few names, including Graham Bolt and Ben Edgell, who both have Rapid grades of around 200 ECF.
So on to the games themselves; this was between about 10am and 6pm. All 6 games were very closely packed together thanks to excellent timing from the Arbiters. As a result of this it means that what I can pass on from the tournament as it developed will be somewhat fragmented but here goes anyway!
Round 1 was underway promptly after the mayor of Teignmouth opened the event with a speech that showed his respect and appreciation for the tournament itself and also a sincere regret that he himself didn’t understand Chess to the degree that he would have liked. While I was still digesting this my game was underway without me realising and I’d subconsciously played some relatively solid looking stuff. This held out and I went on to win with relative ease.
After looking around afterwards I think I remember Mike Richardt getting a draw after a bit of bad luck in a blitzed K+P vs. K ending, Mike Redman got his win quite quickly but I think Martin lost his in a game that I saw none of. The legendary Dave Littlejohns secured a thrilling point by his standards; a slightly confused bye point! At this point I realised that talk of Taunton putting in some teams had come to fruition, we had entered 2 teams; Taunton A and Taunton B, not sure which way round it was but one of the teams was composed of Mike Redman, Mike Richardt and Ben Edgell. [Some explanation to the arbiter over how Ben Edgell could be classed as a Taunton player was required but all was merely a formality as our fearsome team lined up ready to do battle for their Bus Fare Home!]. The other Taunton team was made up of Alex, Dave Littlejohns and Martin Worral which [in view of this tournament being rapidplay] seemed to leave Taunton in good stead to compete for a team prize with either team! Mike Ward and Roger Waters were happy to go it alone and threatened to take down all who stood in their way!
The rest of the day developed alarmingly quickly; round 2 seemed to be immediately upon us. I netted a quick draw where my opponent tried a cheeky trick with the opening 1.e4 d5 2.ed Nf6 3.d4 Nxd5 4.c4 Nb4!? 5.a3! a3 saves the potentially awkward threats on c2. A tedious exchanging situation ensued and I offered a draw which my opponent gratefully took. I then took off to the canteen for a quick analysis of my game so not sure about the rest of the games from this round. I can’t remember any real upsets this round so I guess all results must have been reasonable. Many people in the canteen were too busy enjoying the light hearted clash of the titans of Ben Edgell v Matthew Haines and anyone else passing!
Round 3 was then upon us and I secured a win after some mistakes by my opponent. At this point it struck me that 2.5 out of 3 was a good score even if my section had 45 players in it so I began to eye the possibility of finishing near the top. Martin was also gathering pace, however, and was on 1.5 at this point, I think. Please correct me if I’m wrong Martin! Mike Redman seemed despondent after a draw at this point, @Mike, this was character building and was always meant to happen! Mike Richardt was still reasonably happy with his result but happier still with his form!
At this point a Lunch break was welcomed by all, and a bit of chat about the state of affairs of things at the time. The general feel was such that everyone felt the break was necessary but short-lived and before we knew it we seemed to be playing chess again! Not round 4 yet just a quick blitz that developed into an analysis of the play after an interesting sacrifice in a friendly in the canteen! It really was a packed day of Chess for all concerned, which was interesting given the circumstances of the tournament itself, and our friends and Taunton Players who were in positions to challenge for the lead late on.
This lead to me getting a little bit too caught up in the moment and playing for something more than just what seemed like a fair result, under the advice of a determined Mike Redman that I was to get 5.5 out of 6 by the end of the day. This lead to me getting aggressive very early in a quiet looking game between myself and one of the other front runners of the major section. It was a line of the Scotch opening that I knew well but chose to expand on the queenside with rapid pawn pushes. Unfortunately I miscalculated and quickly my worth adversary’s Kings bishop was causing problems on its fianchetto. This lead to me losing the initiative which in turn seemed to provoke me into more and more aggresive moves. Predictably I blundered the exchange and the endgame was too strong so I resigned. This one really crushed my spirit as it seemed that a top spot was out of the question, in hindsight I see that I mentally gave up and just tried to enjoy things. Mike Richardt brought home the bacon with a good win in this round. Really not sure about the position of anyone else in the overall tournament standings at this point, just that I was out of the running for the win as like Mike Redman on that day I was “either first or nowhere”. This gave me the chance to sit back and watch the next 2 rounds as Mike Richardt, Mike Redman and Martin all still felt as though they were in contention.
Round 5 came as the flow of Chess never seemed to end. This flow was fast being recognized as something that was welcomed for some and a nuisance for others. I lost to a shocking blunder that really killed my tournament but I considered my opponent to be fair and only doing what any chess player would do in that situation. After the results were in on this round it became apparent that on paper reigning champion Ben Edgell required only a draw in the final game to secure a win as he was on 4.5 out of 5. Martin looked set to finish well as he gained momentum after a disappointing start to the tournament. Alex will learn from your performance in this tournament Martin! Mike Redman realised that he was unable to win the prestigious trophy, which we were reminded was new for this year. This lead to his later actions of drowning his sorrows in a greasy burger. Dave Littlejohns seemed to have had an unpredictable game that lead to him being on 3 out of 5!? The question marks are not just to signify my confusion over just how many points Dave had at this stage of the tournament but really whether Dave’s game was unpredictable!
The final round was upon us and many games at this point were merely a formality *cough cough Alex*. I tried a flashy attack that gained me material but didn’t really give me a mating attack, I was keen to see the struggles on other boards so rushed things and ended up blundering again... From 2.5/3 at the end of round 3 to 2.5/6 at the end of the day, I really need more tournament experience but time is not on my side... As I went to see the struggles at the top of the open I realised that there were none- Ben Edgell had managed to draw in about 5 minutes clearly and a last round game between Mike Rich and Mike Red ended similarly quickly with 1.h4 a5 2.g4 b5 or something along those lines, a lot was lost in translation after the game! A struggle worth watching was Martin’s last round game, the position looked dynamic and he managed to judge some tactical exchanges to his advantage and sealed the win.
Once all was done I tried to see the good sides of the day itself and the good sides of my chess. It seems now that I have learnt a lot about tournament play and about chess as a whole. My apologies go out to my opponents, who thought that I may have spoiled a good game with my attitude at the time, but as said by many on the day in such situations; “that’s Rapidplay Chess!” The tournament finished with what seemed to me like a great amount of people left to digest the results and to applaud their fellow players who had performed admirably. Personally I was impressed by Martin Worrall, the man in form according to some of those at Taunton! His performance now strikes me as such that he was on a bad start and calmly played each game on the board as he saw things at the time. This lead to him getting good results and rising through from near the back of the pack in the u145 section to a final position in the league tables of 2nd but with 3 players in front of him on 5/6, so technically leaving him 4th in the overall standings out of 45 players. This really sticks in memory due to how much it relates to my experiences in the tournament. None of this was specifically said to me by Martin [apart from the facts of his position in the major section], however I see the parallels between what could of been going through his mind at certain points of the day and what were going through mine a lot. The difference was I mentally gave up after my loss in round 4, he didn’t give up after his loss in round 1. My lesson learned will be to try and play the board alone in the future. Not the man, not always the grade but always to look closely at the circumstances in which I am playing. Here I do not mean the event itself, I mean the points that are still possible and the points that are not if I really want to do my potential chess ability any justice.
My congratulations go to Ben Edgell who completed the impressive feat of winning the Teignmouth rapidplay for the third year running. Mike Richardt also is well worth my sincerest congratulations; he ended with a grading prize on 4/6 and was happy with the way he played! Mike Redman who appeared to be a perfectionist once more and was unhappy with 4/6. To you I can say that your character is being built more and more with this kind of thing, just do whatever you can to help yourself. Losing does hurt when the stakes are high but we can all learn something by it. Personally I intend to keep my emotions more reigned in where Chess is concerned and to think!
The Taunton team of Mike Richardt, Ben Edgell, and Mike Redman scooped a quick cash prize. Not sure what happened to it though, possibly spent by Mike Redman in an unnamed fast food place on the way to his next port of call. All I can say about that is that if that was indeed the case I will be very surprised if he got change out of the winnings! Personally I got nothing shiny for my days Chess or anything expendable at fast food restaurants. I did get a highly useful collection of experiences that I will also make sure helps my game and when anyone says “remember teignmouth rapid?” I will! Not just for the tournament itself but my experiences after it!
Happy New Year!
4 weeks ago