The Club called, and many came, members and friends, to celebrate Christmas and the end of the calendar year with an online Blitz tournament. Well, not just any Blitz, but one with simultaneous chats and video links on the club’s Zoom channel. So, it resembled as much a party of good old times.
24 participants, mostly members and a few friends, plus some on-lookers. Three father-son teams competed, even playing each other, well Christmas is family time. The fathers performed better than their sons, Tom better than Max, Richard better than Adam, and Ken’s son Felix looked on Zoom even happier than his father. We chatted about the right age for children to start playing chess. Conclusion is, any age is right. This evening however, it was not the Juniors who took the Blitz crowns as you would have expected, but the adults.
Special prizes for the event went to:
- Under-10: Max
- Best female player and among top-10: Raluca
- Best senior and highest endurance with 16 games: Richard
- Runner-Up and overall winner: well, read on
Not that it was all about chatting. Chess did matter, a marathon for three long hours. The club’s undisputed Blitz genius Thomas (T-Bone, peak December rating 2401) competed and was early leading the pack, in his usual berserk mode, a specialty of Arena tournaments on lichess. You can double your points when starting with only half of the already short time. So, Thomas was immediately charging ahead. Unfortunately for him, and we still feel honoured by his participation, he had to drop out at one point because he competed in two other international competitions this evening.
The lead was soon taken by a challenger who won one game after the other, and in Arena tourneys winning streaks also double points. But then, suddenly, he was disqualified. The lichess system somehow decided that he was cheating. Was it a software running simultaneously, was it his too good to be true performance, we don’t know what lichess detects and how the algorithm works. Sad enough, that happens. The club’s attitude is clear: we expect everyone to be clean, and we will look into each case where doubt is raised. Honestly, sometimes it is difficult to deal with when there are no clear answers.
The fight did go on: Liam was charging ahead. Liam has continuously improved his skills since he joined the club two years ago. And he was relentless also this evening, rarely leaving a point behind while others were taking short breaks. And in the final of three gruelling hours, two more contenders came closer, Tom and Christof. We know Tom as as successful bridge player, European Junior champion and English Champions League winner, and in autumn he made a clear statement of his chess ambitions when he won 4 of the 8 weekly Blitz tourneys of the club. Now it all boiled down to the last few minutes, and to the last game, between Tom and Christof. Would the game be finished before the deadline of 9pm? If not, its result would not count and Liam would be declared winner, the same if the game ended in a draw. If there were a winner, he would win not just this last game but also the tournament. It was a bitter fight. Huge advantage from the beginning for Christof. Stubborn fight back by Tom, trying to use whatever small chances were remaining, moving his king all the way up to the opposite ranks. And with Christof, you never know, in Blitz even more so. The later computer evaluation shows how Caissa’s favour switched from one side to the other, from plus 8 to minus 7 and back, well, Blitz games are not high quality. Tom could have won a rook, Christof could have queened. Then, seconds away from the deadline 9pm, foto-finish looming, each side at risk of losing on time, Christof promoted his last pawn only to be taken, then it was Tom queening only to be taken as well. But he still had another pawn on the board. Last man standing, and last man running. Tom it is, the winner, the champion.
What an evening, but what a year. The right spirit to the end, giving hope for our club chess when it will resume at one time in 2021.