A weekend in the life of a Chess Congress entrant by Christine Roberts

Dorset Open 13-15 October 2017

Friday evening (in the lofty heights of Board 2!):  My opponent was a very pleasant, well-mannered chap from Wandsworth, graded twenty points above me. He had the white pieces and his opening was one I haven’t seen very often:  1 e4; e5  2 Nc3, Nf6  3 f4, d6. I made sure to stay fully concentrated, as it’s so easy to fall foul of an unfamiliar opening. Without being too granular with the moves that followed, I felt I had the upper hand, both in terms of position and time. Opponent had pawns doubled on two files and, as long as I kept an eye on one dangerous line that I saw he might attempt, I felt a win for me was a possibility.

However…..when he offered me a draw, I took it! Two reasons for this – first, I know from games against very experienced players (which he was) how easily things can change and, second, a long game (and therefore late night) on the Friday evening can have an adverse effect on Saturday morning’s second round.

Saturday morning (another day, another draw): vs David Burt

This game saw me with the white pieces against a canny opponent. We wasted no time at all to reach a draw (isn’t David a specialist at this?) and, unlike my last night’s more favourable position, this board looked very even. So, no regrets on taking a draw and an early entrance into the hotel bar!

Saturday afternoon (following a great bar lunch): vs Alan Fraser – a win for me! Hurrah! In previous Congress events, I’ve felt a bit intimated by Alan’s play. However, with a traditional e4, e5 opening (he was white), and with my developing a strong centre, today things went my way. So, I’ve laid a ghost.

Sunday morning (some of us the worse for wear): vs Christine Constable

Although my namesake’s grading is currently only 3 points above me, she’s played at a higher grading for some years and is a tricky opponent. As white, I opened with the London System and quickly established a strong centre. Christine told me afterwards that she hates playing against this opening. In a weakened position, she sacrificed a bishop seeing a possible mating situation by bringing my king into check with her queen. Although I was a piece and a pawn up, danger was apparent. The game became very interesting and needed thought to allay the threat. In the end, Christine had to give up her queen to save an imminent mate by me, but the reprieve was short-lived and a few moves later I was able to checkmate her.

Sunday afternoon (the home straight): vs Jason Madden

Jason is an aggressive player who launched an immediate attack, winning a pawn or two. However, his major pieces (notably his queen) were in vulnerable positions and the loss of my pawns gave me command of open files. I was able to find strong positions for my major pieces and he had to play defensively for some time. However, the tension was broken by an exchange of pieces, and although I felt I had the stronger position, a passed pawn of his was advancing down the board! In the end, though, despite his clever defence of the pawn, I was able to win it and he resigned.

This Congress was very well run, in a particularly good venue and it was a pleasure to be part of it. I’ve recorded all the above, as the Congress result I achieved was my best so far (3 wins, 2 draws) and I may not do so well in the future! It was great that the Poole Chess Club entrants supported each other through the event and, as you’ll see from the Dorset Open overall results also on this website, we did amazingly well.

Chris Roberts
October 20, 2017