It was our 1st Christmas Blitz, It was our 1st Blitz tournament. It was our first tournament of any description open to other clubs...and it ran smoothly and was a success. We did it! Congratulations to everyone at the Club for helping to make this happen.
It was 12 pm on Saturday the 21st of December when we arrived at Northenden Social Club to set up for the tournament. We were excited, eager to get underway, a little nervous and hopeful that there would be a good outcome, not so much results-wise for our Club, but for the success of the event as a whole.
The stage was set by 12.30: tables, boards, pieces, clocks, pens, score cards, data projector, cuddly toy, laptop, a blank wall of a white/off-white colour, tables, chairs and space!
That last ingredient, and there will be others I have forgotten to mention, was very important to us. How many times have you been to a tournament only to be sat shoulder to shoulder with 2 other players with very little room to breathe? This is something we managed to avoid by inviting only 3 other clubs to this tournament. In the future I think we can add at least another 2 clubs and still provide excellent playing conditions. We did some calculations!
Preparations had been going on for a couple of months at least and I must formally thank Jamie Thompson without whose organisational skills the tournament would have been much the poorer.
We invited 3 other friendly clubs: Stockport, East Cheshire and Marple, and they were keen to take part. It was to be a 5 minute blitz contest, no increment, 3 rounds of 4 games with a 30 minute break between rounds. £10 in, £100 individual 1st prize, £20 for 2nd place and a trophy for best team performance.
Everyone arrived and we started on time with a spring in our first move and steely determination. The atmosphere was quite relaxed and encouraging. On our team: Liam, Harry, Eddie and Jamie.
After a few games it became clear that Stockport were the team to beat and that was going to be a very difficult task.
Their ratings were very high compared to the majority and and they soon left the other 3 clubs behind.
We have had a lot of positive feedback and there are also some recommendations we have considered and we will change some things in the future. One of those things is bound to be rating.
This tournament was an Open and, following the tournament on the 21st, we feel it would be a good idea next time to bring in an individual rating cap and maybe a lower minimum too.
I, for one, loved giving players the challenge of facing high ability opponents. It is what we all aspire to. We can test ourselves and learn a lot! We also lose a lot. Some people feel that starting with a similar level among players would lead to more interest as the matches would be closer. I quite enjoyed our fight for 2nd place! We will have a think.
Also, were the breaks too long? too short? too few? too many? There are differing views just as we are all different people. The format may also alter slightly.
The mood throughout the afternoon was one of enjoyment and good times. There were blunders, illegal moves, scares, immense time trouble scrambles, craziness, moments of brilliance, laughter and good humour.
An afternoon that ran so well is not down to luck. I have already thanked Jamie. I would also like to thank Neil Oddie for having a clear head at the results table, Steve Kelly for bringing the tournament into the modern age with the data projector, and Khalid Khokar for being results runner and troubleshooter extraordinaire.
A big thanks also to everyone who competed from all the clubs.
At the end of the day Stockport came first and will take home the Northenden Christmas Blitz Trophy, once engraved.
East Cheshire 2nd, Northenden 3rd and Marple a creditable 4th.
For individual 1st and 2nd there was a tie at the top between 2 great players from Stockport: Daniel Sheppard and Raimund Klein.
They fought it out at in an arena-style affair with the other players jostling for position to catch sight of the moves,
There was absolute silence as 2, 3 minute games got underway and raced into blistering speed and blinding action!
They fought like tigers with very sharp, dangerous, pointy teeth!
After a frantic battle Daniel was victorious. They had agreed to share 1st and 2nd prize and so received £60 each.
Well done to Stockport Chess Club, Daniel and Raimund.
We all play chess because we love it. We know it breaks down barriers, creates friendships, exercises the brain and promotes emotional and cognitive benefits. It is also great fun and I hope and feel that on Saturday 21st fun was had by all.
There will be a repeat of our Christmas Blitz next year but with some changes to improve the event and player enjoyment, and in 2020 there will be one or two more surprises. Watch this space.
Thanks as always to Northenden Social Club for providing us with the perfect venue for playing chess and really good prices at the bar!
Merry Christmas to all chessophiles who have read this and a very happy and successful 2020.