Newmarket Chess Tournament

From our roving reporter Martin Fletcher
Newmarket Chess Tournament – 27 May to 29 May 2022
Here is a brief report on the Newmarket Chess Tournament, which I attended last weekend.
It is a relatively small event – limited to 96 players (this number was reached). It also has only three sections – Open; Under 1950; and Under 1650.
It is held in a hall on Newmarket High Street. There was a cheap car park very close to the venue (just £3 all day), so travel was fine. I also found a relatively cheap Travel Lodge 15 miles away which kept the costs down.
The five games were played over three days (one on Friday evening and then two on Saturday and two on Sunday).
It was a friendly/sociable event, and most of the players knew each other, with probably the majority being from clubs in East Anglia.
The time control was 40 moves in 90 moves – with a 15 second increment from move 1; and then an additional 15 minutes after move 40. This time control did give a problem on the Sunday, as one of the games which started at 10am was still going strong when round 5 was meant to start at 2pm. One of the players seemed convinced that the game was clearly drawn, but the arbiter was unable to declare it a draw, and it was not until 2:20pm that the other player decided to accept a draw. This did delay the start of the afternoon – even more so for the two players in that game (and their opponents) who had a 30 minute rest before they went into round 5,
With a relatively high cut off for the minor section, there were very few lower graded players entered, which meant I started the event ranked 15th out of the 18 in this section. However, I had a good tournament and managed to finish higher up the leader board. With one loss, two draws, and two wins I finished equal fourth, and also gained the rating prize (with a grading increase of 19 points over the five games). I was happy with this result; although I am still having flashbacks to the disastrous knight move in the endgame of game 2. I had an extra pawn in the endgame with a knight against my opponent’s weak bishop. My endgame play is not great, and I gave away a winning game – not only that, but that extra point would have won the tournament! If only …. Why? …. Sigh!
Once I have got over game two I shall definitely recommend this tournament to others in the club. I shall be back next year to try to atone for the knight move, and shall be very happy to have some club members on hand to commiserate if my endgame does not improve.
As an aside there was one interesting incident on Saturday afternoon. When the games started at 10am one of the players was sitting opposite an empty chair on board 5, watching the time tick away. Then at 10:10 a player scurried into the room, sat opposite him, and started to play. It was another ten minutes before a second late player arrived and came to board 5 to belatedly start his game. The first late player was not only a poor time-keeper, he was also playing at the wrong board – he was paired on board 2! An interesting situation for the arbiter’s examination.