NCC – Some Observations
Just some observations from the NCC which was a resounding success for hot favorites Gonzaga who with the strongest team by far, easily dominated and won with little difficulty. I only played and was around for the first three rounds so report on just some of the things I noticed while also playing myself. There is a full official report covering far more ground and details at the ICU website well worth reading too.
One of the players who made a positive impression was Bart Ciconski who had a great game against 2600 plus GM Sebastian Maze and though probably never much better or winning, he did seem to be doing well for long periods. The end of the game is featured below in the diagram (click to play through the game) and also video footage of the last few minutes of the game.
This was the position after a tense and unclear sequence of play in which, though a pawn up, Black was probably never much better or winning. However, despite having lost ground and now at least nominally worse, Black should be able to hold this position with great care and accuracy. Instead he sort of collapsed or seemed to suffer from despondency and allowed a text book winning conversion into a King pawn endgame with just the two Kings and a single pawn, which is instructive.
This was a bit of a pity considering how well Bart had played generally. Something which I was to experience myself when he played a fine game against me and I was left in a totally losing position, only to somehow wriggle out with some tactics that made Bart nervous enough to offer me a draw in a tough endgame which had only become tough when he allowed me win one pawn back when I was two down.
It was the last game I was to play as I did not play in the fourth round. Not that it made much difference to what turned out to be a very disappointing result for Bray CC when we would of had some high hopes for a good performance at the start. Our first round win of 5.5/6 had seen some really nice, interesting and good chess by John Joyce and John Cairns, as I had noticed it on the boards next to me.
My own game was also pretty nice too and I enjoyed later looking at it with an engine as the engine at first evaluates White as better, even a lot better many times throughout the game, only to then change and see the resources for Black after a few moves into a variation or after used up more time. In the end, the combination of time trouble for my opponent, and the passive nature of the play allowed me a nice sequence and very thematic win. The final position being rather pretty.
The game with some notes, as usual is also available by clicking on the diagram. My other game was against GM Sebastian Maze and was a pretty interesting game well worth looking at in detail, but I will leave that for PART 2 of my NCC observations which will contain some other curious things of note and amusement too.