On a wintry evening about a year ago, four intrepid souls made a road trip to York, the chess was good, the weather was bad, very bad!
For quite a few years now I'd wanted to play in the York congress, but work prevented me from attending, so when the opportunity arose I gladly accepted.
A score of 5/5 won a guaranteed £250 so a bye on the Friday evening was out of the question. The plan was for us all to play our games as fast as we could and try to get home for 11pm or at the very latest 12pm.
The weather wasn't looking good, and as we set off it started to snow, the road conditions worsened, and we wondered whose bloody idea this was!
We gave ourselves two hours journey time ‘wisely’ in retrospect, so, in despite of the conditions we arrived early. There were hundreds of players from far and wide, but I'd wager none had travelled as far as us. We had mixed fortunes on the night, and all had gone to plan, everyone had finished, apart from yours truly!
Mine was the only ‘effing’ game in the whole tournament left in play, after 4 fecking hours! I tried desperately to encourage my opponent to resign, he was lost on the clock and his position was hopeless too. When I looked up from the board I could see the hatred welling up in my despondent team-mates eyes!
Thank the lord I won the game!
We stepped outside into a scene more akin to an alpine resort than the centre of York, the snow was falling very slowly but each flake was massive, like an icy Tarantula! After we’d left the city lights and entered the darkness of the countryside, the snowflakes whizzing past the beam of the headlights were having a hypnotic effect on me i.e. falling asleep!
The nearest thing that describes it is when Captain Picard from the TV show ‘Star Trek’ says "engage" and the stars start flying past the window, the effect was multiplied by my fatigue from the journey down and my four hour chess marathon.
After crawling all the way back and dropping off my passengers, I finally made it to bed at 1:45am, great preparation for the next day, 5 hours sleep if I was lucky!
One of our party who lost decided he wasn’t playing in the remainder of the congress, insisting that losing in the first round hadn’t influenced his decision at all…”Yeah right!”
So only the three ‘amigos’ would continue on.
We skidded into York a mere seven hours after going to bed! Passing half a dozen ditched cars and lorry’s on the way, talk about treacherous conditions. Yet again we arrived on time, but totally knackered. I won again; I was beginning to think this sleep deprivation technique was a winning formulae, although I did have a very dull headache, It felt like someone was slowly crushing my head between their hands.
Alas fatigue finally caught me up in the afternoon game, playing black I was wiped off the board! Here’s the final position below...after 30.Qf6+ and # in 4
Notice the ‘inspired’ placement of my Knight and Bishop, I certainly know how to lose in style!
That game was my only defeat and I went on to score 4/5 collecting a whopping £50 which paid for fuel and sandwiches, the other guys scored 50%.
I didn't attend this year's congress...I haven't got the stamina!