In our strongest ever blitz tournament, Constantin became the first player to win three tournaments in a single season, but it wasn’t enough to stop Dylan becoming the first player to take the Blitz Grand Prix trophy home twice.
Constantin was back having missed the last two events to study, but he was third seed behind Tim and a return to the club after a couple of years for Mariusz’ FM dad, Anatol. All told, we had 25 players – our second-biggest of the season – and yet there were still some familiar first-round pairings, with Lorcan facing dad Brendan for the third tournament in a row. Lorcan ended up winning the mini-series 2-1 after Brendan, one of eight players in a first for a top-three spot, dropped a queen early on and never got back into the game. Seán also lost, though from a position he actually won twice – he promoted first against Zhengjin, who had a pawn on b7. Seán got his queen back, demonstrated the starts of the winning technique, and then decided it was easier to sac the queen on the pawn and run his last pawn in. Unfortunately, Zhengjin had one more another b pawn left – and Seán had miscounted; he ended up queening again as Zhengjin got his pawn to b7. Again, Seán showed the winning technique, but ran out of time, and his flag fell before he thought to sac the queen on the pawn and at least claim the draw.
On the top board, Cal was going up against the player who’d beaten Tal, and soon had a number of pieces swarming around his king, with various discovered checks winning crushing material in turn. Myself and Dylan – realistically the only two players in the running for the title – came through our opening hurdle, but Dylan dropped the first points when drawing with Luke in round 2.
In round 3, things started getting interesting as the top seeds started to meet. I lost to Tim when a standard pawn swap and push early in the Pirc suddenly turned out to lose a piece because I hadn’t castled, while Ciarán became Anatol’s latest victim, as he set up a clash with Constantin in round 4. He lost that, and lost the next too, against Dylan, when, having just broken through an opposite colour bishop ending to get an unstoppable passed pawn, his flag fell.
In the same round, I lost to Constantin, and once again, Constantin was confirmed winner with a round to spare. Dylan was a point ahead, and though I won my final round match against Lorcan – who was celebrating mid-way through when realising Zhengjin had lost, giving Lorcan a grading prize – and Dylan lost to Constantin, I ended up behind Dylan on tie-break, and not the three places ahead I needed to be to take the title. Anatol recovered some pride when grinding out an endgame win against Seán, though having lost to Mariusz the last time he was here, he this time finished behind him! Seán, for his part, was unlucky to finish as far down as he did, having had a win in his two other defeats (against Zhengjin and me), and having gone the full distance against an FM.
So the final standings on the night were as follows –
All down as far as Danny scored points, which meant plenty of movement on the overall leaderboard. Lorcan had six points to spare over Zhengjin in the green grading band section. Luke had the blue grading band section sewn up at the start of the night and, as results panned out, he would have needed to win the whole tournament to have snuck into the top three, so he was happy to settle for the blue grading band prize, a massive 32 points clear of Thomas. I technically won the yellow grading band, but the plaque went to William, whose excellent second place in round 6 saw only a defeat to Anatol FM. Constantin was third, though would have won had he finished in the top 10 in either of the tournaments he missed – maybe he was happy giving someone else a chance of glory after a season in which he’s won the Heidenfeld, a board prize, the club’s top scorer trophy and a trip to the European Cup! I took second by a whole point, but Dylan was 10 points clear in the lead and holds on to the golden trophy for another year.
Next up is the Senior Club Championships in July and August; we’ll be taking entry in June. And the blitz will be back just before Christmas.