While Dylan already had the 2018 Blitz Grand Prix title sealed before last night’s final round, behind him things were very tight indeed, with the rest of the top three only being decided in the final round.
After the usual twists and turns along the way – at one stage, Gerry was in the lead on 4/4, having beaten three of the four players on 3/4, while I lost to Alan after playing what I thought was mate only to find he had a rather obvious way out of it and Ciarán lost to Gerry from two pawns up after suddenly realising Gerry had just woven an inescapable mating net around his king – we ended up with the following final table –
It’s worth noting that this is actually Gerry’s first tournament win at the fifth attempt; two second-place spots were his previous best.
This made the final standings very tight – except at the top, where Dylan won with a record 135 points and by a record 42 points. But behind him – and in the absence of Brendan, second going into the final round – there was a proper crush. William ended up with second place, three points ahead of Ciarán, who pipped me to third by one point. The round 6 standings above show that it was even closer again – William finished ahead of me on tie-break, so another half point somewhere would have been enough for me to finish second.
William taking second meant he couldn’t also take a grading prize, and Kavin was the beneficiary there. Alan held off the challenge of Eric to take the blue grading prize, while Robbie cruised to victory in the green grading prize. There were record high finishes for William, Gerry, Ben, Daniel, Joe, Taylor and Eóin, although curiously William scored more points last year when coming fourth.
The 2019 competition will start shortly before Christmas