THE BRITISH CHAMPIONSHIP 2016
The playing area
Photograph courtesy of Bendan O'Gorman
The British Championships in Bournemouth was won by Cornishman, British No.1 and favourite, Michael Adams with a record equalling 10/11.
The Championship was held at the Pavilion in a room able to take several afternoon tournaments at once. There were coaching, analysis, book stall and commentary rooms too.
The top four boards were shown on screens, as usual, facing 3 rows of seats for spectators to view from. Most of the Championship games were recorded electronically and all can be viewed on https://chess24.com/en/watch/live-tournaments/british-chess-championships-2016/11/1/1 , using the up/down arrow by the top named player for rounds and selecting games.
There are also PGNs on the website - http://www.britishchesschampionships.co.uk/pgns-2016/
All the results and individual performances are on - http://chess-results.com/tnr231040.aspx?lan=1
The hall was quiet and the tournament well run by a team including Tony Tatam. However the lighting was inadequate in places such that Mark Hebden requested to play all his games on board 5, whatever his position in the competition.
I jumped at the opportunity to play having qualified for the first time in 50 years of playing chess, despite the entry cost of £200. I have only really just started playing in tournaments since retiring and find it quite civilised playing one game a day in the afternoon with a day off after 6 rounds of the 11. The tournament was very strong but I went in as 54th out of 86 on my FIDE rating of 2082 (=184 ECF; my grade is 182), aiming to get 50%. However I had not realised the disparity between junior FIDE ratings, which take long time to move adequately, and ECF grades. The straight conversion is FIDE grade minus 700 and divide by 7.5. So whilst I played 6 opponents below my FIDE rating there were only 2 below my ECF grade, with grades of 174 and 181. Hence my ECF grade for the tournament was 191 but my FIDE rating was a very disappointing 2035, largely due to playing underrated juniors; eg my round 10 opponent was aged 14 and 1784 FIDE (=144 ECF) but his ECF grade is 174. My round 4 opponent was aged 13 and 1961 FIDE (=168 ECF) but his ECF grade is 196. My round 2 opponent was aged 16 and FIDE grade 1920 (=162 ECF) but his ECF grade is 187.
I was disappointed with my white openings but went in a bit rusty, as I had played only 1 game since April. Normally I have done well in with white, as in the World Seniors where I got 4/5 with white. This time I scored 1/5 with white including 3 losses but 4/6 with black, with 2 wins and 4 draws. My opponents grades in ECF terms were 242 IM (L), 187 (D), 182 (D), 196 (W), 207 FM (L), 208 FM (W), 211 (L), 182 (D), 202 (D), 174 (D), 181 (D). So tough going, although I was disappointed that I failed to win rounds 2 and 10 due to inaccuracies in time pressure.
The best surprise for me was having a reunion at the tournament, firstly with Chris Heath, a good 190 player from Exeter, who hasn't played standard play chess for some 20 years and has retired and may return. Secondly, I met an old friend, Geoff Brown, that I hadn't seen for 40 years after he packed up chess and I moved away from Kent. He used to play at my old club in Folkestone and then Ashford. He lives in Thailand now for health reasons but returns once a year to see family and played in the weekend tournament, following his comeback in SE Asian tournaments.
Other West Country competitors including Keith Arkell GM 6.5/11 (2455> 2383 for the tournament), Jack Rudd IM 5.5/11 (2213>2158), Stephen Dilleigh (played for Plymouth in the Bremridge many years ago but now Bristol) 3.5/11 (2053>1899) also had a disappointing tournament. However Jeremy Menadue kept up the good Cornish performance by scoring 5.5/11 (2034>2175). I was pleased that my 19 year old round one opponent, IM Justin Tan, did well to come 3rd with 8/11, ahead of some GMs, achieving a tournament grade of 2574 (up from his 2438 rating).
Overall my experience was very enjoyable. The
moral of the story is avoid underrated juniors.