From this Sunday until the following Saturday I will be playing in the Diamond Jubilee Paignton Chess Congress. I believe the tournament has been held in the same room in the same building for sixty consecutive years, which is quite astonishing. Former World Champion Max Euwe competed in the first edition, and though I’m not aware of any quite so distinguished players taking part in future editions, it is still a strong event and often features a Grandmaster or two. More details can be seen here.
I’ll be playing in the 7-round Rowena Bruce Challengers (U-180) section in the afternoons, as well as the Boniface 5-round Morning event (also U-180). Both sections have a first prize of £350, but as I’ll be one of the lower seeds the chance of walking away with £700 is slight. The afternoon games have a time control of 40 moves in 2 hours, then 20 moves in 1 hour, and finally 30 minutes for the remainder of the game, meaning that they could potentially last seven hours. In addition to that the morning games can go on for three and a half hours, so I could be playing a lot of chess!
Before every tournament I play in I face the familiar problem of how to prepare for it. Usually I go about it something like this:
- Make a list of all the glaring holes in my opening repertoire.
- Realise that my repertoire is more hole than not, and even for the openings I play all the time I know relatively few book lines.
- Do nothing, except for perhaps a quick look in Modern Chess Openings 5 minutes before the round starts if I have managed to find out what my opponent plays.
This approach doesn’t lead to disaster too often, as most of the people I play are similarly unprepared, but I certainly could use the run-up to a tournament more efficiently.
I intend to try a different approach in my last few days before this tournament. Every day I will do at least one hour of tactics problems, either from László Polgár’s massive “5333+1 positions” book, or online. I hope that this will sharpen my eye for knockout blows a little by Sunday. Opening preparation will be limited to a few quick fixes against the Danish, Scotch and Göring gambits, and if I have any time left over I’ll look at some endgames… but the most important part of my preparation is undoubtedly the cooking of a batch of my famous ‘Sweet Date ‘n’ Pepper Chutney’, which I will do tomorrow.