Lucca Finale

The start of the game against Efimov didn’t bode well for a decisive result. As black I countered 1.Nf3 with …e6 when he played 2.e4 and offered me a draw. Such a passive way of playing doesn’t make sense; granted I’m top seed but he’s got White and a GM himself, while a draw would just leave him needing to win in the last round with Black, in all likelihood against another GM. Anyway I declined the draw but he continued to play for the draw, exchanging when possible and, although I managed a slight initiative in the endgame he managed to achieve the draw.

Going into the last round there were 5 of us on 3.5/4 followed by a handful on 3. Of the leaders there were 3GMs, Efimov, Sanchez and me, Pietro Mola an FM who plays for Lucca and Contini who had won on default the previous round. The colours forced me to have White against Pietro and the two GMs to play on board 2 with Contini getting the downfloat against de Filomeno who I beat in round 3. Sanchez didn’t try for anything with White and it seemed they had prearranged the draw. Meanwhile de Filomeno got a great position quickly and so it was obvious 4.5 would win it outright.

Out of the opening I was in an excellent position, a line I looked at a month or so ago had yielded me a strong attack and a couple of passed pawns. However I then proceeded to misplay it, allowed an exchange sacrifice killing my initiative and winning my advanced passed pawn. I was still much better but after a couple more slips his position had become reasonable and, despite pressing for 78 moves I was unable to convert the point and had to acquiesce to the draw, very annoyed at myself at having thrown away such a wonderful opening.

Italian tournaments, unlike their counterparts in the UK, don’t split prizes between players on the same score group but use the tiebreaks. There were actually 7 of us on 4/5 but luckily my Bucholz, the tiebreak system used, was the best and so I still picked up the €700 first. I felt very sorry for the players who came 4th-7th who had the same amount of points but finished the tournament with nothing. For anyone interested, they used Bucholz minus the lowest scoring opponent. This means that we add up  all my opponents scores, discard the lowest and compare. As 3 of my opponents joined me on 4/5 and my first round opponent had a good tournament achieving 3.5 my ties were almost perfect.

After a hastily arranged prize giving a couple of Pisani players gave me a lift to the airport. The trip back was fairly easy if long; flight to Stansted, train to London Liverpool Street, (mad dash trying to find the bus stop for) night bus to Tottenham Court Road and finally another night bus to just outside the door of our new place in Shepherd’s Bush that Sue moved into on Thursday. I eventually got back about 1.30am giving me enough time to sleep, pack, have a nice lunch at a nearby Middle Eastern restaurant with Sue before I was off again at 3pm on my journey to South Africa. More about that in the next update 🙂

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