GM Nicholas Pert wins Bristol Qualifer of UK Open Blitz 2018

A disappointing level of stress was caused by the UK Open Blitz Bristol qualifier held last week. In my previous advert for the event, I assumed 15 rounds of blitz chess would be hell for the poor arbiter having to control the event; this was not the case! In the most anti-climactic event of the year (for the arbiters), the arbiting team even felt calm during the event!

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The playing hall at Bristol Grammar School with live scoreboard! Photo credit @ Anita Thorpe

At 11am, all 42 players had arrived and were ready to do battle with barely enough time on the clock to remember how the horsey and the castle move. Leading the seedings was England’s number 9 and part of the England Olympiad team, Grandmaster Nicholas Pert. It was also great to see the return of Bristol League veteran and Fischer slayer IM James Sherwin who took the 2nd seed spot.

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Bristol legend IM James Sherwin (right) was seeded 2nd for the event. Photo credit @ Anita Thorpe.

It was also nice to see a cohort from the “Noisy Neighbours” of North Bristol, including chess celebrity Fiona Steil-Antoni who made her Bristol League debut against South Bristol this season.

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Top board clash! GM Nicholas Pert and WIM Fiona Steil-Antoni battling it out. Photo credit @ Anita Thorpe

It only took until Round 3 for the first “upset” when Jim Sherwin lost to the Czech player Krystof Sneiberg. By the Round 5 break, Nick Pert was on 5/5, with a chasing pack on 4/5 including Sherwin, Steil-Antoni, Sneiberg, Lewis Martin and Paul Hampton. A well-deserved lunch break was given to the players at this time before the remaining 10 rounds started.

In the next 5 games, Nick Pert continued his dominance; only dropping a draw to Steven Jones put him 2 points ahead of the field on 9.5/10. Sneiberg and Martin trailed on 7.5 and Jones on 7 were the chasing pack vying for the second qualification place. For the female qualification places Fiona led on 6.5, with Alice Lampard and Erika Orsagova on 4.5 and Dorota Pacion on 4 fighting for the second spot. The Bristol juniors were also faring well – Ollie Stubbs on 6 and Chirag Hosdurga on 5.5.

Whilst Nick Pert continued to dominate the field to win the event on 14.5, the battle for 2nd became very tense as Sneiberg held a half point lead heading into the final few rounds. Despite blundering a rook in the penultimate round, Sneiberg managed to hang on to his lead and finished on 12.5 with Jones finishing on 12 and Martin on 11.

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Plenty of space for pacing although blitz tends not to lend itself to meandering long walks between moves. Photo credit @ Anita Thorpe
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Blitzing in full swing. Photo credit @ Anita Thorpe.

The female qualification places were equally tense. Fiona confirmed her place in the Women’s Final finishing on a valiant 8.5, but once again 2nd place became a tight affair. Both Lampard and Orsagova finished on 7 points, but the Bristol University student Lampard won out on tiebreaks to take her to the Women’s Final on 1st December.

Rating prizes were also awarded to the best scorers in a given rating band. Steven Jones won the A group band with 12, Michael Ashworth winning the B group with 9 points and Chirag Hosdurga taking the C group prize on 8 points beating Oliver Stubbs and Martin Quinn by being the lowest rated player.

Overall, the event was a pleasure to control and many congratulations to the winners! Hopefully this is an event that will grow and continue to be a staple in the calendar – however if you can’t wait till then, the Bristol Open Blitz Championships are being held on the 25th November. Entry form found here.


TomThorpe

Tom Thorpe

Tom is an International Arbiter and used to play for North Bristol in the Bristol League. Now based in Exeter, he still pretends to play chess in-between organising events.