Having won the NZ Seniors Championship a couple of times back in the Noughties, I have always been interested in Seniors’ Tournaments.  I actually played in the World Seniors in Gmunden Austria in 2006 but I have not been involved in Seniors Chess since arriving in the UK in 2012.   The Amateur Chess Organisation caters for non-elite players who apart from ratings, miss out belonging to FIDE who cater only for those in the top drawers.  THE ACO runs tournaments for the great unwashed and because it appears to exist in opposition to FIDE, ACO games are not rated by FIDE.

Anyhow, Margaret and I decided to enjoy the delights of Crete at Modele Beach, a 5 star resort where all food and drinks were included in the entry price.  Ten days of 5 star accommodation and food cost us £1500 and with 9 rounds of chess thrown in was always going to be an attractive proposition.  Fodele Beach is built near the waters edge of a lovely beach, but the accommodation is on the side of a hill and the climb up to our room was quite steep.

Ranked 18th in the  tournament list, I was not expecting to perform wonders, especially as my chess powers have declined quite a bit in recent years.

Round One

Not knowing what to expect I saw that I was playing White so decided on the London System.  I use it whenever possible since it is a good opening and easy to play.

Bob Mitchell NZL 1527– Albrecht Hauger Germany 1426

1.d4 d5 2.Bf4 e6 3.e3 Nf6 4.Nd2 Bd6  5.Bg3 c5  6.c3 a6  This was aimed at preventing Bb5 or was preparing b5, but I was focused on the King side.   7.Bd3 Nc6 8.Nf3 c4  A first sign of weakness – releasing the central tension.   9.  Bc2 b5 10.Ne5 Qc7 11.f4 Bb7 12.00 00 13.Bh4 Be7.  My 13th move was aimed at removing Nf6, the main defender of the King

Although the move makes good sense, this was the first time it had occurred to me, so the next few moves were uncharted territory. 14.Bxf6 Bxf6 15.Qh5 g6  16.Qh6 Nxe5  17.fe5 Bg718. Qh4 Rae8. I saw that Black intended to exchange Queens, taking pressure off his position. 19. Rf5 Qe7 20.Rf6! Qd8 What a lovely place for a Rook!  The Queen exchange has been avoided, and Black invites an early death if he captures the piece. 21.Raf1 Re7 22.R1f3 Qd7 23.Rh3 h6 24.Rhf3 Qe8 25. Rg3 Kh7 Finally, the Rook lands on the correct square, but meantime Black has exposed his King in an effort to protect h6. 26.Nf3 Rh8 27.Ng5+ Kg8 28.Nxf7 Rxf7 29.Bxg6 1-0

Round Two

My second game was as Black against another German.  Nowadays I usually play 1….d6 and wait to see how White proceeds.

Wolfgang Fuhrmann  GER 1578- Bob Mitchell NZl 1527

1. d4  d6  2.c4 e5 3.de5 de5 4.Qxd8+ Kxd8 5.Bd2 c6  This is a line I often play as Black.  White finds that his c pawn and his e pawn get in his way but provide targets for Black. 6.Nc3 Be6 7.e3 Na6.  My first error.  Best was 7…a5 to provide cover for c5 8.000 Kc7 9.Be1 Nf6? Another error.  This Knight should go to h6 leaving f6 for the f pawn to shore up e5.  I realised at this point that I was a bit off my game. 10.Nf3 Nd7  11.Ng5 Nc5 12.Nxe6 Nxe6  Passive play.  I should have anticipated Ng5 and prevented it with 11….h6 to avoid the exchange.  Although White is also making sub-optimal moves, I am losing confidence rapidly. 13.a3 Nbc514.b4 Nd7 15.g3 Ng5 16.h4 Nf3  17.Be2 Nxe1  18.Rhxe1 Be7 19.Bg4 Rad8  20.Rxd7+ Rxd7  21.Bxd7 Kxd7  22.Rd1+ Kc7 23.Kc2 f5  24.f4 e4 25.Ne2. White offers a draw but like the mug that I am, I imagine that there is still hope. 25….Bf6 26. Nd4 Bxd4

27.Rxd4 Rd8.  =1/2-1/2

I was fortunate to emerge with half a point from this game and felt that after two rounds, 1.5 was not too bad, so I faced my next round with a bit of confidence.

Come back next Friday for the next two rounds!

Bob Mitchell