National Master Chris Knox dropped into our weekly blitz tournament. The skill disparity among players has always been a feature and problem at the chess club. However, despite the fact that Chris was at times a thousand rating points over his opponents, there were no signs of fatigue or discouragement from the opposition. Rather they were eager for experience.
It seemed as though nobody could so much as conceive of defeating Knox. Then out of the shadows sprang HandKnit. With a rating close to 2300 could they add a blemish to Chris’s spotless tournament record?
The aspiring challenger played careful games one after another. No messing around, the berserk button gathering dust. Then in the final quarter their chance arose. What followed was a memorable game. Chris played the most passive sacrifice I have personally seen. Moments later my jaw dropped as a jam-packed middle game had converted into a stage for three black pieces to dance around a terrified white king. The game like a magic trick has no spectacle being described. I have enclosed my own rough analysis of it here. [LINK]
The two foes did have the final face off to finish the tournament with a flourish. Beginning in the dying moments of the tournament, it would not count towards the final score. However, the stakes were high still. Bragging rights are essential for a healthy kibitzer.
For Handknit however, it was not to be. Chris played a series of “conventional” sacrifices to fin a winning position. Whereas the previous game had Chris initially looking fatigued, here he looked downright careless. The computer may agree with the moves, but that does not change the look and tone of the game. I have not analyzed this game. However, I definitely encourage you to see it. [LINK]
There were certainly other interesting games in the tournament. Henry Vu and Daniel Glasroth fought a bitter endgame at the very beginning. Harthausian never could find the initiative against Chris. Inadvertently you spent every game cheering for them. Hoping that the underdog would find some defence for the artillery trained on them.
The bullet tournament, while having a disappointing turnout, was a chance for Jonathan Hay to run circles around people, with some nauseatingly solid chess. Finally, I goaded him into playing the bongcloud, an opening akin to shooting yourself in the foot. It took everything in him to ignore the self imposed destruction and find some way to repair the situation. Incredibly, his sheer skill was able to produce a win. Certainly a memorable match, where the tournament favourite suddenly became the underdog after a few opening moves.
Shoutout to Wilson Sy and Edmund Chan for playing ambitiously and with care, even against
opponents much stronger than them!
Finally, thank you to everyone who participated. It’s great to see people using Discord and the chat to connect with one another!