Barclays International Round 1+2

Hello from Rome! As I type this we’ve played two rounds and about to head off for round three. The internet a bit slow so not sure if I’ll be able to post before the game but I’ll try. The weather here is very hot but the organisers have done their best with fans everywhere keeping the venue to a moderate heat.

I arrived on Sunday in time for a shower, some lunch and a quick nap before the first round. It’s a very strong tournament with good depth and the tournament was hard from the onset. I faced WIM Vezna Rozic from Slovenia. After quite a good opening I quickly achieved a winning position after about 22 moves. However she tenaciously defended sacrificing the exchange and I couldn’t decide between the different winning paths. I chose to grab some more pawns but her passed d pawn became very strong and the position returned to about level. Luckily after the time control I settled down, found a way to sacrifice my rook for a couple pawns leaving me with rook and five pawns against rook, bishop and one when my pawns proved too strong.

Round Two I faced a young Italian prospect in IM Niccolo Ronchetti. He has been playing well recently with many GM scalps so I knew the game would be tough, especially with Black. I played 1.e4 e5 but got my move order a little muddled at around move 18 (theory is long these days!) and unfortunately found myself in a completely lost position. I struggled on in a double rook endgame two pawns down. Double rook endings have a reputation as being drawish but this was simply too much and after another very long game I went down.

Quick trivia question: How many moves have I played in my last three standard chess games? Answer in the next update!

I’m sharing a room here with Irish IM Sam Collins who I’ve known for ages. It was his birthday yesterday and the organisers gave him Black against the second seed as a present but unfortunately his game went on a very similar path to mine. Following the game we took the metro to try and find a good restaurant (the area around the hotel and venue is pretty dead). He had been given some directions to a good couple restaurants but the first was closed and the second had disappeared but we found a decent one and had a nice meal with rather too much food!

We then decided to grab a beer or two before returning to the hotel. There was a bar next to where we ate that had 12 beers on tap. Sounded great! I ordered an Erdinger and that was when the problems started. It took the barman about 30minutes to pour, a warning that the barrel needed replacing that I should have heeded. After drinking it I quickly felt pretty ill and my stomach confirmed that consuming the drink was foolhardy…

Today I’m paired with a second female player – pretty rare in chess tournaments. I’m playing WGM Adriana Nikolova from Bulgaria. Wish me luck! The link to live games is: which will hopefully work, otherwise pairings and results are at: