Opening Night of the Inaugural “Poly 2020” went surprisingly smoothly – though not for many of the top seeds.
Larry Kirk – whose welcome presence adds kudos to the tournament – was slow out of the blocks. A stodgy (?) opening was followed by voluntary damage to pawn structure perhaps leading to the pawn loss and tactical problems. Ben Snow’s (who he?) crisp play put him ahead, but as time loomed he opted for a repeated position draw.
Meantime the rapidly improving Austin (represented Scotland in recent Euros) was dispatching an out-of-sorts Jalal, who had problems untangling his back rows. An eventual counter-attack was too slow and Austin won comfortably.
Danny was also surprised by a youngster, Ciadh taking advantage of Danny’s unusual opening approach to set up a strong pawn centre which suddenly became huge following later exchanges.
Lewis Brookens, a welcome returner, struck a blow for us oldies (sorry, Lewis) against Jainill. A tight game, with just an edge for White throughout, but at Move 41 Jainill looked (I believe) to protect his more open King position by the swap of Queens. An overlooked zwischenschach with the rook soon saw his position crumble.
Elsewhere, results went more to form. Alexander survived a long struggle with a piece pinned to his Queen, forced simplifications to an even position, but decided to swap his Queen rather than take back a pawn to restore equity. Robert soon demonstrated a win in the King-pawn endgame. I ground out a win, surviving a scare when missing that exchanges would leave a re-taking pawn pinned against my Queen. Luckily, so did Brian. Andy missed a consolidating pawn move in an even, but tactically tricky, position and lost his Queen in the subsequent exchanges. His R+B compensation seemed flimsy against Craig’s extra passed pawn and he resigned.
Richard played a solid opening, but allowed the ingress of Eric’s knight on e4, and never quite recovered from the havoc it caused. Alex was solid throughout, entirely level at thirty moves, when he failed to make a good escape square for a bishop, and allowed a knight fork of Rook and Queen in the attempted recovery, resigning in a position I would certainly play on against me. He and Craig meantime just failed to take my award for “best handle”, MASuslov44 and Purplekangaroo just falling to Eric’s ikonapitra (wtf?...)
I wonder if many of us have missed the chance to catch the top guys “cold”. It will be different next time. Meantime two games still to come from Round 1…