The Centenary Celebrations seemed a fitting excuse to amalgamate two passions (bridge and chess) with a pairs lightning tournament at the Poly. Eight willing souls turned up and were paired off gradings-wise, first&eighth, second& seventh etc. The four “teams” were given a rudimentary introductory talk on “lightning chess” – you play a move when the bell rings (actually it was a gong, but does a gong…gong?) every ten seconds (actually, since they were new to this, I generously extended this up to…eleven seconds). To add to the wtf score, each team member played alternate moves, with no discussion allowed.
Tight adjudications were required over failure-to-move-on-the-buzzer and illegal moves. My natural tendency towards leniency led to my devising a form of three-step defaults for the former, and two-step defaults for the latter. This did rather backfire, creating more than one result of “0.5-0”. But it’s all a bit of fun, Dougal.
Four teams meant a nice double all-play-all. Gibb and Marshall got off to a flier, losing their first three matches. Back-rank mates featured highly, as did losing Queens, though I could hear Dairena’s teeth churning when she forced a lovely forking of Queen and King only for Austin to retreat the knight to a place of safety. Meanwhile Ciadh was taking full advantage of an early stroke of luck (Kaveh Alizade turned up, and took my place) to race to 2/2, before falling to the above in Round 3. Eric Martin and Liam Power got the obligatory point against Robert and Alex, leaving three teams joint top on 2/3.
The break for panettoni (A Marshall), rock buns (R Gibb) and tea/coffee (Gaffney) rejuvenated the slow-starters for the second half, but with one round to play, they could not win (1.0), leaving Alizade/Takahashi (3), Martin/Power (2.5) and Connor/Gaffney (2.5) to slog it out. As often the case, the back-markers ran away with their “dead rubber” against Connor/Gaffney. In the decider, Eric continued to make good moves – many when it was not his turn – but he and Liam eventually succumbed to Kaveh and Ciadh who ran out winners with 4 points.
Alizade & Takahashi 4.0
Connor & Gaffney 2.5
Martin & Power 2.5
Gibb & Marshall 2.0
During the various breaks, competitors tried to solve five chess puzzles of varying difficulty, including the “mate-in-two for White plus retrograde proof” shown below. Black had never promoted a pawn, and had just captured on b6. The actual proof was not required – only the perception of what it was you had to prove. After all, it entailed a five-stage+ retro-analysis procedure. Despite this, Austin kept coming up to me during the tournament. First two stages cracked. Then the third. Then on the discussion at the end, the fourth followed. I had to call a halt. Can’t let these whippersnappers get their own way. He’s probably sent in the last step by now, so I’m not checking emails. Only previous person to solve this was Ken Stewart.
I hope a good night was had by all.