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SAE - Caversham Primary Saturday, November 05
Brent Smith writes:

Remember, remember, the chess tournament before the evening fireworks. A moderate turnout, but with only a handful of ungraded players, and few under 9s, it was decided nonetheless to split the competition by grade. This meant that there were no "easy" games, even for the best players. Indeed, the top-graded entrant, James Adair promptly lost his first round match and only caught up with the leaders in the final round.

In a strange coincidence, the exact same thing happened in the Challengers' Section where top-graded Stephen Rowe lost his first game, but fought back to force a blitz decider. Despite the wealth of experience (especially so for a second section), several ungraded newcomers played themselves into top positions.

At the end of 6 rounds, there was still no clear winner for either section, so the electronic timer came out and was set to 5 minutes each. In the first playoff for the Challengers' trophy, Stephen Rowe was up against Caversham's own Charlie Powell, having just won their final round match. Stephen quickly gained a slight advantage, but Charlie took his time on just the right moves, enabling him to capture the Queen, soon followed by other pieces, and finally the game and trophy.

The Open Section blitz was between ex-Caversham pupil Richard Smith and James Adair. They hadn't met in the tournament proper, and not surprisingly their blitz match was a tense close-fought affair. With little time for thinking, both players tended to trade off pieces, rather than risk missing a more subtle attack. With little over a minute each (they had both watched each other's clocks like hawks throughout), it came down to an even, but assymetric, rook and pawn end game. Finally, rooks were traded off, and Richard's King was better placed to wipe out the final pawns and be ready to shepherd one of his two connected pawns to the other end of the board. But time pressure caused a disastrous mistake and the game was drawn. After the fireworks of the blitz match, it was something of an anti-climax when Richard was awarded the trophy on count-back.

Related links

 Open Section
 Challengers Section
Last Season's Results