Lifelong gambiteer Steve Woolgar resurrected the tournament this year and prepared 28 gambits – dished out at random before each game began.
Gambits on cards often forced players into unknown territory – for example here followed e3, Bb4+ Bd2 and pawn takes e3! The bishop can’t be taken so white has to play with very messed-up pawns.
For some it was a daring expedition outside of their super-solid repertoire; for others it was welcome respite – where for once they will be just as prepared for the opening as their opponents.
The setting was an active night at Filton sports centre – the ironically unsound chess being played in a noisy former squash court, which was between a swimming pool and a snooker room – but more importantly next to the bar, which would feature more as the night progressed.
Nothing but water (I assume its water, might be sprite, who knows) for the two eventual champions Henry Duncansson (left) and Alex Rositter who squared off in round 4 – settling on a draw and winning all their other matches.
“Really, I’m supposed to defend this with ten minutes?” Clevedon’s own Stuart Iles (right) bagged the grading prize with 3/5.
The play of the day has to go to the one and only opening theoretician Dave Tipper, who delivered – wait for it – a smothered mate on the board, afterwards explaining to the crowd that the particular gambit line inevitably led to a smooth kingside attack.
Personally, I practice the 5-move smothered mate combination before every chess game (it’s just that satisfying) but as yet have not been able to use it. Dave beat me to it in heroic fashion…
The inimitable Nh6 double-check, followed up by the lunge Qg8+!! And the knight returns to f7 to ‘smothermate’ the king.
Thanks to Steve Woolgar for a great effort getting this tournament back on the calendar and a great night of gambiteering – let’s hope some of them work their way into league repertoires this season.
Mike is a regular pretender in Bristol’s top division and can also be seen propping up local tournament ladders. He writes a regular column for the Bristol Chess Times and plays a solid 20 openings a season.