Earlier this month I played in the Blackpool Chess Conference, the largest weekend tournament in the country. I decided to enter the Open section rather than going prize-money-hunting in the Median; a decision which could have been embarrassing as I was the lowest-graded player by far. In the end I scored 2/5, and although one of those points was a bye, I think I played well enough and certainly learned something.
I arrived in Blackpool in time to see my first round pairing and do a bit of preparation. As a result I was able to bang out the first 20 or so moves in a couple of minutes; a novel experience as in past years’ games I have normally been deep in thought by about move 5!
When preparing for my second round game I found that my opponent, a Ruy Lopez player, had faced my favoured Arkhangelsk Variation once before (it was in fact the only game of his after 1. e4 e5 which appeared in my database). Unfortunately for me he had entirely forgotten that game, which had been played some years before, and played a different line which I had forgotten how to refute.
In the third round I had a bye, as I was the lowest-graded player on 0/2 and there was an odd number of players. In the fourth I faced Phil Wheldon, who was fresh from an excellent performance in Gibraltar where he defeated GM Juan Manuel Bellon Lopez, but was not doing so well in Blackpool.
In the final round I made it to board 12, where I had my first experience of playing with a nice wooden DGT set in a tournament. Here’s the game, which I haven’t yet got round to annotating:
In all, an encouraging tournament despite the slightly disappointing 1 win and 3 losses, and I will definitely be playing in Opens in the future. I expect my next tournament to be the Durham Open near the end of April.