After last year’s disappointing results, things could only get better. Or at least I hoped so. I’ve really had trouble in years past getting good positions out of the opening and so I made a concerted effort to fix this: given limited time, I decided to learn the London System which is not overly-ambitious for White but is usually at least pretty solid. Fortunately for me, this proved to be a great decision and helped me win two games with White and, nearly, one with Black against the same system. For once in my life, my opening preparation was a success!
- Round One: The very first game I ever played 1.d4 as White and it worked out very nicely. I got a decent opening position from the London System and managed to attack his King-side: a very confidence-boosting first Win. Officially at this point I had a 100% record with 1.d4!
- Round Two: Played Black. This was a very long game (well over three hours) where I felt like I had a slight edge for much of it, but unfortunately lost the thread towards the end and Lost while running out of time. Shame really, but I wasn’t too disappointed because I knew I’d still played very well and had found good moves at important junctures. My opponent made no real mistakes and deserved the win.
- Round Three: Another game as Black and this time I faced the London System from the opposite side. My preparation was helpful, because I was able to spot his opening inaccuracy and got the upper hand. It was never quite enough to win, though, and with time running out we ended up sharing the points. A little frustrated only to get a Draw here, simply because I’d felt positive all the way through: pleased not to have made any mistakes, though.
- Round Four: Day Two began as Day One: I’m playing White and start with 1.d4 The London System. I catch my opponent in an opening trap and win a knight within just 20 minutes: it then takes me nearly two hours to wrap it up! He played very well to make me work for it and, at one stage, I thought I’d messed it up. Finally got to an endgame where I had two very powerful bishops against a rook which proved decisive. Nice to start the day with another Win. My 100% record with 1.d4 remained intact!
- Round Five: Another game as White and, of course, another London System. Didn’t play this one quite so accurately and ended up with a very passive position, although never actually bad. It was a long struggle, again well over three hours. Finally fizzled out into a very hard-fought Draw and I was pleased to reach that conclusion. This game mirrored Round Three, except that on this occasion it was me on the defensive, not my opponent. My record with 1.d4 has now slipped to a mere 83% (2.5 out of 3)!
So I finished on 3 out of 5, which is a good plus-score given that my rating pre-tournament was officially low enough for me to enter the lower-rated section. All five of my opponents this year had ratings in a narrow range 157 to 163 and my results give me a tournament rating of 169 which is, I think, the highest I’ve ever had.
As an aside, also met a famous player: Grandmaster John Nunn, who was playing in the Open section. Had a very brief chat with him, welcomed him on his first visit to Kidlington and mentioned that he, along with Nigel Short, Tony Miles et al, was one of the most influential players on my game when I was growing up. He was very nice 🙂