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Monday, July 1, 2024

[OFF] Essex Team Blitz and Lightning 2024

It was the 31st of June, 2024, the last day before the first half of the year is officially over. It was a Sunday and was remarkably sunny, in what is supposed to be the wettest summer in over a century in England.

For those of you who are aware of my shudderingly preposterous skills in chess, let me warn you that this post is about a chess tournament titled "Essex Team Blitz and Lightning 2024" which was hosted by the Ilford Chess Club which has unwittingly accepted me as a player over the past couple of years, during my stay, here in Essex, England.

This year the event had a with a time-control of 7 minutes per-player with no increments, I'm not sure about it's past but in 2023 it had the same time controls as well. It has been organised since 1993 and we are in the 28th edition (there we no events in 2020-2022) in 2024. The winners list (pre-COVID) can be found here: https://www.essexchess.org.uk/archive/team-blitz/ and the winners in 2023 were "Barking A", referenced from "https://www.essexchess.org.uk/activities-archive/activities-2022-23/essex-team-blitz-2023/".

Barking A won it this time around too, but it was a close fight between them and Wanstead Dynamos with tie-breaks deciding the championship. The team standings for this year follows.

Ilford managed one team this time around, last year we had 2, but we had a better score (10.5 in 9 rounds in 2023 with 9 teams in total, compared to 16 points in 9 rounds in 2024 with 10 teams in total).  The 2023 standings are as follows.

I was playing on board 1, a spot usually decided by rating points, even though my current ECF Blitz rating is terrible, which means I am a terrible at quickies. I prefer the longer games but some of my games this time around did not displease me. Check out my player card.

I beat an FM (Fide-Master) and an IM (international-master) but lost to lower rated players. This is exactly what ex-world champion Vladimir Kramnik might find "interesting".

image depicting Kramnik having blocked me on Twitter / X

But I can't share them, with him, now, can I? I can't share the games, for obvious reasons, but if "obvious" doesn't include my lack of memory, then I should offer an explanation. I can't remember them (not did I attempt to). I do remember being smothered more than once in the slav-defence and that is what I plan on working on next.

The blitz tournament was followed by a break of around an hour and a half before the "Lightning" part of the tournament started. There were around 18 players with 2 withdrawing after a few rounds. If you're not aware, the way lightning time control worked here is : 10 seconds for each move per player, with 8 seconds for thinking and 2 seconds for playing the move. The move must only be played during the 2 final seconds, not earlier, and not after. How must you determine the 2 seconds, I hear you ask? Well, there's a buzzer that goes off every 8 seconds, lasting for 2 seconds, loud enough to scare a child (in me) and not to be mistaken with a radioactive alarm that can set off your primitive panic sensors.

Example : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2naim9F4010. Even this one isn't for 2 full seconds.

As per my performance in the lightning event, it was a mixed bag.

My second round loss to the IM Richard Pert was marred by him getting frustrated at my inability to move on the buzzer. I was probably a fraction of second late but did start making my move on the buzzer. This lead to a sequence of consecutive blunders which if I hadn't made I might have beaten him and taken the trophy.

The next couple of wins and losses were all shadowed by the buzzer embedded in me since.

However, I would rate the event a success. It completed within the allocated time and the schedule was impeccable. I rate it 5 stars, kudos to the organisers, Ian Hunnable and Mark Murrell. Not to forget, Tom Barton, who was also involved.

PS: It's not 5 stars out of 10, it's out of 5. Not that I needed to mention it to my very not-sceptical and sarcasm hunting readers.

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