By Fergus Skillen.
On Saturday the 20th of November, Bristol Grammar School hosted the Bristol Rapidplay tournament. This was a six round, Swiss style tournament, with a time control of 20 minutes each way with a five second increment per move. Three of the 40 players were from the Bristol University Chess Club, with Alex Belsley, Jonas Zurba and me (Fergus Skillen) playing. With the venue touching the university campus we were definitely on home soil, allowing us to wake up at 9:30 and arrive with wet hair. Players travelled from across the South of England and Wales to attend, including a considerable delegation from the University of Warwick.
There was strong competition, with six players entering with ratings over 2000, including the university’s own Alex Belsley and American International Master Jim Sherwin. Whilst this was the first over the board tournament that most players had participated in for several years, a special mention must go to Jonas as this was his first tournament. After a poor start in the morning, Jonas managed to clench his first win in the fourth round, holding out in a long game. Now starting to relax, he returned to win in the fifth round as well, checkmating his opponent with two queens. Jonas finished with 2/6 which is a very respectable score for a first outing, and he looks forward to playing in future tournaments with a newfound confidence.
Alex had a very strong start, with three wins in three games. In the fourth he drew a close game with Peter Chaplin, who later went on to tie for first place. Unfortunately, in the fifth round Alex blundered in a winning position, a pain similar to the loss of a relative. Alex then won in the sixth and tied for fourth place overall on 4.5/6.
I had a strong start, winning a tactical first game with the black pieces. In the second I found myself in a worse position, so I tried to relieve pressure by accepting the strategically worse trade of two rooks for a queen, hoping my opponent would blunder some tactics. Despite being down on the clock, he played an extremely solid game and converted a deserved win. I managed to recover, winning rounds 3-5, and emerged on top from a wild game in the sixth round to finish on 5/6 and tie for first place with IM Jim Sherwin and Peter Chaplin. There was definitely some luck involved with blunders, favourable results in other games and receiving easier pairings after my early loss, but so it goes in Rapidplay.
Overall, it was a very good tournament. Thanks to tournament organiser Igor Doklestic and Bristol Grammar School. Full results can be found here, and the photos below are curtesy of Alex Belsley and chessit.co.uk.