Baburin Set To Win 2017 Irish Championships?
It seems perhaps foolish to even try making predictions with three rounds left to play at 2017 Irish Championships, especially as I am one of the participants, and also considering how unpredictable or volatile predictions can be and how odd some of the results so far have been. At the moment Phillip Short is a point ahead of seeds one and two with a large chasing pack of players 1.5 points behind, including myself.
However, in my own case I am pretty sure I have already blown it and am no longer in the running really, which is not to say that I don’t have a lot to play for. I have two really tough games left out of the last three games. First of which is today against Killian Delaney and then Alex Lopez after that in round 8 or 9, regardless of how I do today.
I needed to win yesterday against my bête noire Gavin Wall, and indeed should have done so, as I used up huge amounts of time in the opening and middle game to outplay him rnicely after getting an equal game.
This then seem to just descend into more of a blitz game in which, oddly enough, I ended up having an edge on the clock, despite being nearly an hour behind at some stage, with a reward of a rapid play game when managing to reach move 40.
Amusingly enough though, I was better and then winning a few times, at one point he missed a complete win with a nice tactical flourish, which during the game, when we were both down to much less than five minutes, I half saw, which is to say, I seen Rxe6 and had an uneasy feeling that I might have missed something but did not see exactly what it was. (Nh3 at the tail end – which affirms my contention that we always need to watch for back rank tricks and Knight forks!) Until after the game when I seen the computer blurting out a winning evaluation as if it were shouting and screaming at me something to the effect of you are a dummy!
I am probably just confirming my grumpy old guy status also by complaining about the short time control that is basically a 5 hour session of play. Instead for a national championships I much prefer a more prestigious and, in the context of a nine day one game a day event, perfectly practical and reasonable time control of just having one hour at move 40 instead of 30 minutes and then 30 minutes at move 60 with that being the end of added on time and it only then going down to increments.
I admit this time control I suggest is even more full bodied than a motion that was passed at the 2014 AGM that seems to have fallen by the wayside. But then I think it far less likely I would make the blunder I made in the position below when goodness only knows why I lost a whole tempo by not not playing …Qe1 and then…f5 instead of the really dumb move…Qe3
Just for the national championships I think a longer time limit is far better and produces far more high level chess. Considering we have so many great players this year it is a pity that this was not the case now. I tend to be usually well ahead on the clock for most of the time in most of my games anyway, especially when not arriving late, but I simply lament the fact that the game inevitably risks descending into a blitz or rapid session and this has already happened with some rather unfortunate consequences.
No less so than the incredible loss by Rory Quinn against Alex Lopez yesterday, who threw away a winning position not only to not merely not win but then manage to lose, all in a time scramble in which a distinctly blitz atmosphere prevailed.
Looking on for the few moments I could while playing my own game, as I was sitting beside them, but missing the crucial self destruct portion it felt pretty awful even watching this crude and from a purely chess point of view degenerate car crash like spectacle in which the huffing and puffing elements prevailed over any chess intellect. Notwithstanding the fantastic tenacity of Alex to actually just hang on for as long as he did.
It reminded me of my own self destruct classics of which I have many and even more stupid or painful. So I can hardly be too critical. Just a pity to see such a nice and well played game rendered utter rubbish at the end.
At least in the case of the insane game by Tony Fox– who after his amazing win a few rounds ago against Gerry MacElligott and his miracle draw with Gavin Wall, I now call, Tony the LION – against Gerry MacElligott there was not a blitz or rapid-play aspect that dominated.
In his first round game against Alexander Baburin, Rory Quinn was indeed much better and arguably winning, if say, it was two players of similar and high level strength, but it was a little abstract and required lots of work and play.
Instead he just blundered with a bad concept and was duly punished in some style with a classy and competent refutation.
It was the only time so far that Alexander has actually been in any real serious trouble at all and why I think he will now go on to win the Irish ch undefeated. This of course depends on him winning today against Phillip Short who has been the shock and sensation of the tournament so far, but though I would actually love to be wrong I can’t see Phillips run continuing on, and though he might in fact draw today (I doubt it) he still has Gavin Wall and Henry Li to play whereas Baburin only has Wall to play of serious difficulty.
Phillips three wins in a row were started when I gifted him a win out of nothing after having missed at least two clear chances to win and then just blundered when by that stage Phillip had cut my edge and pressure to almost nothing and the game may well have been heading towards a draw, with it looking less and less likely a win for me. It was a bitter blow to me as everything had gone to script for me in terms of how I would have liked it.
The other feature of this game was the unbelievable noise which made the country music noise from round two seem pleasant by comparison. The play had to be stopped and the players all march upstairs to another room with boards and clocks etc. The problem in this round was not the noise so much as the nature of it. Basically, the floor directly above had a special “Kids Play Area” and the “kids” were running up and down and stomping like crazy, on and off it went, and the room actually shook. A banging thud sound and creaking door were the worst of it.
Both Phillip and myself had pulled faces, grimaced and doubtless, either under our breath, or in our thoughts, cursed this confounded disruption, but sure what could we do? I had considered asking the arbiter if we could move as we were then the last game left still playing and so I thought that if we made the time control on move 40 then might be a good moment to ask?
In the end I could not decide if that would have been even more disruptive or perhaps unfair as I was pressing for a win and so very close to achieving it, and with Phillip just hanging on in the position, breaking the tension might be seen to be a way for me to calm things down and then just work out the win that was there to be had on moves 41,42 and 43.
Though we were both subject to the same noise problem, it is the nature of the situation that tends to dictate who will be more negatively effected in such circumstances. In this case, Phillip had nothing lose as we both knew he was lost, but I still had to finish him off. This was not so trivial and when executing the nail in the coffin, so to speak, one can be more easily agitated or distracted. In the end, I did not ask to move rooms and I missed my chance straight after the time control at move 40 whereupon I lost my advantage and then in one of those classic lapses blundered horrendously and was suddenly lost! It was my first lost to Phillip in ten years and particularly painful and badly timed one.
It perhaps inspired Phillip as he went on to beat Alex Lopez the next round in a far more deserving and impressive manner when Alex was simply outplayed in the time scramble and blitz game it had descended to after a mostly level position for most of the game. Phillip was impressive in his composure and play and it was also the first time he has beaten Alex in what must be more than ten years too?
My loss to Phillip came after my previous draw against Conor O Donnell who I had earmarked as a player to beat in this tournament. I tried mixing things up n the opening to get him out of his book and while it looked interesting and promising for me initially-, he passed the test, so to speak, comfortably. There was only one possible chance to create winning chances for me and after that, I had nothing better than to agree to a draw by repetition.
From an opening point of view a failure for me and good play by Conor who though I considered highly unlikely to win this year he surprised me and continues to improve and showed great confidence. The following round he pushed Alexander Baburin all the way after Alexander let slip his equal position with the error …Nd5 and had to fight hard to stay in the game. Showing his class with excellent composure with accurate defense in a position that many may not have held.
Conor had in the previous round played an impressive win against Gavin Wall after they followed 21 moves of theory (unknown to Gavin) and then after playing an inaccurate move that left Black still not fully equal Gavin blundered and lost on move 23.
He then made the mistake of pressing too hard against Phillip when the position had been essentially equal and then slightly better for Conor, then Phillip, and when he won a pawn, Philip was impressive in converting a good position into a winning position. Which brings us back to today and round 7. Of course, anything can happen on any given day but if Phillip loses I don’t think it likely he will go on to win the Irish ch this year- or ever again probably.
On the other hand, the pressure is on Alexander and there was a period around 2012/2014 in which Phillip had great results against him. Three wins I think ? (later confirmed by Phillip when I asked him) So while I think it likely that Alexander will prevail I would not bet on it! Then again, my own predictions of who would win this year have turned out to be possibly just wrong.
I had formed the strong view that the event would be won by only, or any, or all, of three players. Which in very slight order were Alex Lopez, Alexander Baburin and myself! Yes, I rate experience and this particular tournament format as such that I was very confident in my own chances. Now it seems clear that I am, at best, going to come second (Id be lucky indeed to get that now) as I have to play both Killian Delaney and Alex Lopez and unless I get 3 wins it seems highly unlikely I will win this year. Whereas Alex and Alexander seem very well placed to emerge at the top. Followed by Conor O Donnell who has almost nobody left to play that will be too much of a difficulty for him to beat, the exception being Killian Delaney who has started to show his strength and potential in real chess as opposed to just blitz and rapid in which he had specialized in.
Plenty of exciting and tense games today so well worth checking out how things go at.