The beer tournament

There is an annual open in France each year, known as “the wine tournament“, where the first prize is the winner’s body weight in wine (don’t ask me how he is supposed to transport his prize home – maybe the organisers include the cost of shipping in the prize…). Ireland’s Bunratty weekend open does not actually pay its prizes out in the form of Guinness, but I think it fair to say that  alcohol plays rather a large part in proceedings. With the hospitality for which they are famous, the Irish aim to ensure that the visitors enjoy themselves, regardless of the result. The bar never shuts, and, to allow the players to make maximum use of this without risking precious rating points, the event is not FIDE rated.

The formula has proved hugely successful, and this year’s event, played over this past weekend, attracted what must surely be the strongest field for a weekender anywhere in Western Europe. The field consisted of no fewer than ten GMs, headed by Adams and Short, plus a further eight IMs. The eventual result was a threeway tie for first between Adams, Short and Jones, with the first-named winning a blitz playoff, to take the trophy. Nigel Short was close to taking outright first place, having missed a win against Jones in the final round.

Along the way, there were a few accidents, presumably many of them at least partly alcohol-induced. French-resident GM Istratescu defaulted against Jones on Sunday morning, after turning up a few minutes after the 30-minute grace period. My sources tell me he had been “networking”  with the organisers until 4.30 Sunday morning. And in the final round, there were some splendid games. Short – Jones opened 1.e4 c5 2. b3 g6 3.Bb2 Nf6 4.Qf3 Bg7 5.e5 Ng8 6.e6 Nf6 7.exf7+ Kxf7 8. g4. As I said above, Short played a powerful attacking game and should have won. But pride of place in the final round went to the game Williams – Arkell, where the effects of a hard weekend were perhaps a little too visible:

[Event “Bunratty Chess Festival”]

[White “Williams, Simon K”]

[Black “Arkell, Keith C”]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 Bb4+ 4. Nc3 c5 5. g3 Ne4 6. Qd3 cxd4 7. Nxd4 Qa5 8.Nb3 Nxc3 9. bxc3 Bxc3+ 10. Kd1 Qb4 11. Rb1 Bf6 12. g4 Qc3 13. Qe4 Qe5 14. Qg2 

Not exactly an everyday position from grandmaster play. Coincidentally, around this same moment, Short’s queen took up residence on g2, in his game with Jones. This gave the splendid spectacle of two fianchettoed white queens on the display boards, with the white players boasting a combined FIDE rating of around 5200!
14…Qd6+ 15. Bd2 Qa3 16. g5 Be7 17. h4 Nc6 18. Rh3 Qa4 19. h5 d5 20. Rc3 d4 21. Rd3 e5 22. g6 fxg6 23. Bg5 Bxg5 24. Qxg5 Bf5

All good creative stuff by Simon, but the ruthless (and alcohol-free) Fritz is stubbornly unimpressed. As readers of this blog will know, Shakespearean quotes have recently been a topic here. Looking at the diagram position,  though, it was not The Bard who came to my mind, but the words of John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester:

All this to love and rapture’s due.

Must we not pay a debt to pleasure too?

25. Bh3 Bxd3 26. exd3 O-O 27. hxg6 Rf6 28. gxh7+ Kh8 29. Rb2 Raf8 30. Ke1 Qb4+ 31. Qd2 Rxf2 0-1

I think I may have to make a trip to Bunratty myself next year….

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