It's very rare that such a large prize is offered in a chess event (in fact the Best in the West, also held last weekend, had a $500 first prize - congrats to Greg Canfell for taking the tournament out with 5/5!), so I thought I'd give it a try. Being something that was advertised on Facebook & not on the various chess sites & forums, this meant that the bulk of the field were of average club strength, rather than being filled with those at the upper end of the local chess scene.
Overall the weekend went well from a logistical point of view, with the games in the 8-player round robin played in a friendly, competitive manner across two days, with all the games filmed for future YouTube (or other) broadcast. Given that only one game was filmed at a time, there was plenty of down time, and although I had hoped to do some work with the other participants on thinking in chess, I only managed to get a little bit of it done as I was concerned about the extra noise interfering in the games being filmed. Also, some of the other participants were interested in watching the other games, particularly towards the end of the games. Below is how the room was set up for the weekend, with one board surrounded by cameras capturing all the action from multiple angles.
One aspect that took some adjusting to get used to was playing with the pieces being used. In order to make it more 'watchable' for the camera, rather than using the standard 'Staunton' style pieces, tiles with the standard piece representations were used, as you can see in the photo below.
I felt I played some nice chess over the weekend, winning 6 of the 7 games in the round-robin phase of the event (my only loss was to Thomas Hendry on time in a winning position where I promoted a pawn & basically forgot about the clock, only noticing it again when I had 3 seconds left & I was unable to re-adjust my thinking to 'capture his last 2 remaining pawns to draw' instead of 'it should be a simple king & queen checkmate in around 10 moves') which culminated in a quick win with the Blackmar-Diemer gambit in the semi-final game.
In the above position against Peter Ayom I found what I thought was a nice tactic (although the computer prefers the immediate Qc2, which is winning). I decided to play the 'fancy' 1.Rf6! in this position & after the poor reply 1...Qa5, 2.Qc2 leads to a forced checkmate (1...Qb3 prevents the checkmate, but the computer still likes the white position after 2.Qf4).
Above is my Semi Final game against Thomas Hendry. Perhaps I should have saved the crushing BDG game for the final ... The others who were in the semi-finals were analysing it afterwards & I probably gave too much away about the opening, so that my opponent chose to return the pawn immediately in the final, rather than trying to take on the gambit.
Above is the final game against Sunilson Sunderson (although my memory has failed me somewhat, as I'm not sure what I played on move 36 - I definitely didn't play Rg7, however I'm not sure what the 'missing move' is, as I'm pretty sure the position in the game after 35...f6 was somehow actually black to play & he played Rxg4). Anyway, move 35 (or thereabouts) is where I collapsed, just when the win is almost in sight (although Fritz prefers the restricting 27.Rd3 as an improvement over the 27.Rh2 played in the game)! I have the king trapped on the back rank, the b-pawn is about to fall & I also have tactical shots like Nxa4 (which I totally overlooked during the game) ... but I decide to fall in a heap rather quickly, losing both my bishop & rook in the space of 3 moves to hand Sunilson the game.
I did a bit of brief research on the Saturday night & found that Sunilson has in the past played at Box Hill Chess Club (I found a handful of games on OzBase, including a game against Casey Hickman, which is one name I haven't heard in the chess scene for quite some time!) & has an ACF rating in the mid 1700s (albeit that it is a ?? rating as he has not played tournament chess for a number of years).
I'll definitely post links to the final videos when they are online, although given the amount of footage to edit, the estimate of one month given by Dan (the guy who put this event on & is doing the production & editing single-handedly) is perhaps a little optimistic. It should definitely be interesting to watch the final product (and seeing as its a 'movie', perhaps there can be an alternate ending!), but keep an eye out for something along the lines of 'Last Man Standing' as a title.
As for the little bit of de Groot like thinking process stuff I got done over the weekend, I might post something about it in a future post, or I might just leave it until I have more substantial material to go with it before publishing anything about it.