Yesterday evening my flatmates Tom and Pete and me headed into Central London to The Plough, the pub that hosts the home matches of the Drunken Knights in the London League. Nevil Chan had organised their annual blitz tournament, nicknamed the Paralytic Games – see their name! After a tough Olympiad I wanted to play some ‘friendly’ games, semi-competitive and hopefully get a few wins under my belt.
21 players arrived and so Nevil decided to run an all-play-all. 4 hours of good old coffeehouse chess, players packed in so closely that it was sometimes a struggle to find space for everyone’s pint glasses and analogue clocks where it’s difficult to tell whether you have 2 minutes left or 15 seconds. I was the only GM participating and I think Tom the only IM but then there were quite a few FMs and the majority of the players were 2200 and above, certainly no easy games.
In the end our house managed to scoop the prize fund. Going into the last two rounds I had dropped just one draw to Dan Bisby. Tom had drawn one and lost one while Pete had lost two and won the rest. Tom defeated Pete and my strategy of staying ahead on time also paid off, despite dropping a piece in the opening! That set up a final with Tom having White and needing to defeat me to tie for first. Again I’m not totally sure about the quality of the game but in the end I found a way to sacrifice a rook for perpetual and take first with 19/20.
Hardly surprisingly I wasn’t completely convinced by my play but it was exactly what I needed. A very enjoyable evening out of tough and rumble chess, a confidence boost and a rediscovery of the joy of chess. Thanks for having me Nevil!