A smaller-than-usual Blitz Grand Prix event on Wednesday saw the gap at the top of the leaderboard narrow to just a single point ahead of a double-header in May.
With competition leader Constantin taking this one off, and the mid-term break meaning a few others were away, there was scope for quite a bit of change at the top of the leaderboard, though the appearance of Tim for the first time this season meant it was still going to be a fairly competitive night. The first round saw only one upset, when Lorcan defeated dad Brendan, who had hung a piece. Ciarán scraped to a win against Danny with just seconds left, but other than that, it was reasonably comfortable for the seeds.
In round 2, I came through the banana skin tie against Lorcan, who hung a piece of his own early on, while reigning champion Dylan dropped half a point in curious fashion against Luke. Having won a pawn promotion race to arrive at QvP, he just needed to show good endgame technique to mop up Luke’s pawn, which was on b6. Instead, he picked it up – the queen could take – and immediately realised that taking meant stalemating Luke’s king on a8. A quick conflab was had to see how strictly we apply the touch-move rule in the blitzes, but in the end we decided that something as decisive as that had to be judged by the rules, so a draw it was.
In round 3, I beat Tim to take sole lead, and then beat Luke to move to 4/4. Elsewhere, Taylor picked up a couple of wins against Ben and Danny with a trick in the Italian Game, and was rewarded with a tie against Tim. But the decisive match of the tournament was in round 5, when I met Dylan with white, and fell victim to a fairly nasty counterattack against a too-open king. The last round saw a couple of family derbies – Thomas beat Lorcan in a fairly wild time scramble where either player could have won, hwile Bhudhav beat sister Shanvi, with both players making their debuts in the tournament. I did recover to beat Ciarán in the last round, but had to be satisfied with a best-ever finish of second, as Dylan also won to take overall victory for the first time this season –
In the overall standings, Dylan has moved to within a point of Constantin at the top. I’ve extended my lead in the first grading band to ten points, Luke now leads the second band by an almost insurmountable 27 points, while the third grading band is much more competitive, with six points separating the top four players in it –
The final two rounds of the blitz will be played on successive Wednesdays in May – the 3rd and the 10th. In the event of a tie for any prizes, the tie-break is the best individual score in a tournament.