Monday 19 December 2022

13th Mike Closs Memorial Tournament

The latest in our series of tournaments to honour the memory of my friend Mike Closs took place yesterday.

This time, four players contested a double round-robin event with ten minutes on each clock and every game featured one of Mike's favourite openings - the Sicilian Dragon.

1. e4 c5
2. Nf3 d6
3. d4 cxd4
4. Nxd4 Nf6
5. Nc3 g6

Mike loved to play both sides of this sharp opening and it certainly suited his tactical style. However, the four invited guests had no prior history with the Dragon from either side of the board, so they were definitely out of their comfort zone.

As it happened, Royce Parker, who was invited, was beaten by car trouble and a calendar clash. I had only intended to watch this year, but stepped in at the last moment. I have played both sides of the Dragon, but not since the mid-1980s.

We saw only one example of the famous Levenfish trap (which, incidentally, caught out Mike Closs in his first-ever game with the Dragon - and almost put him off it completely, until I convinced him to stick with it), when Dave uncorked it against the unfortunate Richard.

All of the games were extremely tactical, with opposite-side castling the norm and unsafe kings tottering around all over the place. The second of my two draws with Matt, for example, had to be seen to be believed - and a draw was the least likely result by some considerable margin.

Elsewhere, Richard's crushing kingside attack against Matt, using the Yugoslav Attack, was probably the best game from the White side of the board and the final game of the day, which saw Dave blunder a piece in the opening against Matt but then proceed to gain unlikely counterplay in an endgame featuring rooks' pawns charging down both sides of the board to somehow earn a draw was another fabulously entertaining encounter.

Final Scores

5/6: Sean Marsh
3.5/6: Matt Jackman
2.5/6: Dave Baillie
1/6: Richard Harris

Dragon Tally

White wins: Five
Black wins: Four
Draws: Three

I am sure Mike would have enjoyed such exciting games and maybe - just maybe - at least one of the competitors will be tempted to take up the Dragon properly in the New Year...!?

We enjoyed our lunch at Cena afterwards. The staff were friendly and quickly found a way to accommodate a party of people who had not booked a table.

It was a very enjoyable day, topped off by an exciting World Cup Final immediately afterwards.

Here is a gallery from the day.





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