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Richardson/Spens 2011-12
My quote from an earlier thread on this issue by George was on the issue of voting generally because that was how I was reading that.
I have no intention of getting involved in the specific debate that is going on in this thread for the precise reasons you mention. I was not even aware of what was happening until last weekend.
I am the director responsible for the event.

I was not being critical of anyones way of preparing for matches. Each of us have to arrange this to suit our needs. I wrote what I felt was the best for me. I do try and study my chess very hard but not in the hours before a match.
I have read with some interest the debate on board order. There appears to be a lot of feeling on this yet the solution is very simple. All team events should be played in grading order, taken from the published grading list. I appreciate that may not reflect current playing strength but it would settle all arguments.
"On a more serious point though Steve, might it not be best if you stayed on the outside of this debate for the time being (with all due respect) as it has been pointed out to me that you are the person to whom complaints about Andy Muir's handling of the Richardson event should be directed at?!"

What's wrong with my handling of the Richardson ? I've worked overtime to deal with some high maintenance players who are never satisfied.

Some of the actual players in the Richardson should go before the standards committee themselves for not accepting the referee's decision. The standards committee was discussed for many hours recently. Just look at football where managers get ticked off for criticising referees. Steve Mannion senior had his policeman's book out recently at an AGM where various offences were shown on video. He even remembered offences of mine when I was a boy !

Players should look at things at the end of the tournament, not when we've got the most competitive final in years still to be played - at a venue we still don't know .
Once upon a time I was non playing captain of the Bedfordshire U100 (ECF that is) county team.

One year I had three players with a grade of 99 available.My solution for Board order for players A,B ,C

Morning round A,B,C
Afternoon Round C,B,A

With this solution all 3 averaged board 2.0
On the day each had one white and one black - colours being predetermined by the event organiser.

I never had a complaint from the opposition.
None of the players cared whether they were player A or B or C.

I was going to add a punchline but on reflection I'll leave that to the others. Except for the throw away comment that nobody ever complains about getting two consecutive white games.
SNCL Div 1 ceased to be FIDE rated as that is what the Division 1 Captains wanted. Will it bring in stronger players? I would be amazed if it did but I am willing to eat a large slice of humble pie if it does.

I am concerned about the number of FIDE rated events in Scotland. It is making it increasingly hard for us to get titled Arbiters. I was hoping to use next years SNCL for an IA norm, having checked with FIDE that it was ok (the rules state that it has to be 10 teams with 4 boards, they accept 8 teams with 5 boards) as well as bringing on another couple of arbiters to FA level using it for norms for them. Why am I concerned about titled arbiters? FIDE are starting to go towards you have to have a titled arbiter there for it to be graded!
"How sad to see, what used to be, a model of decorum and tranquility become like any other sport, a battleground for rival ideologies to slug it out with glee"
I believe the main point of team competition rules should be to ensure equality BETWEEN teams - a level playing field.

I understand Pat's point about ensuring competitive games for his team members but that has to be of secondary importance - it's not a function of the rules to ensure that, and just because none of his team 'abuse' the advantage this rule gives Hamilton (and possibly others) doesn't mean that it is fair or correct.

@ Andy Muir,
I apologise if I have over-stepped the mark regarding my dissatisfaction of your interpretation of these rules. I'm sure you have put a lot of work into running the Richardson/Spens etc and I appreciate being able to play these events. I do think, however, that you need to be careful about how these rules are interpreted and how they are communicated. I also forgive you for the 'Neil Farrell' comments aimed at me!

The board order rule should be very simple - play in grading order based on either the Published list or the Updated list. It's the most (only?!) accurate assessment of a player's playing strength and avoids any claims of jiggery-pokery!

@streetfighter - thanks
One problem on keeping a fixed board order as previously mentioned is that the lowest graded player always gets weaker opposition eg myself for hamilton , not always fun to play 1800 FIDE rated games when I am 2300 on board 4 in SNCL, this is solved by some measure of rotation, and I believe the majority prefer floating over fixed board order.
My rules always go with the democratic views of the majority.
The noticeboard banter should be taken with a pinch of salt. I deliberately throw in controversial comments to stimulate debate.
George Neave Wrote:
JRedpath Wrote:Farell 2133
Neave 2126
Grant 2115

These are the published grades of players who have played for Edinburgh West this year in SNCL. As you can see all three players could have played in any order! You cannot say that it is only Hamilton that this rule benefits, as Ive said other teams can change order as well, if they choose not to then so be it!

OK but lets see how it worked in practice in this season's SNCL.

So, for Ed West I played board 2 in every game. Neil Farrell played one on all bar one game when he was unavailable and jonathan Grant stepped in. So it was probably a good bet playing Ed West that any team would face Neil on 1 and me one 2.

Now lets compare with the Hamilton strategy:

Rounds 1 and 2 we see 1. Coffey 2. Redpath 3. S Tweedie. 4 weeks later, however, playing strength has shifted because now we see Joe is playing board (1) and Pat dropped down to board (2). It seems Pat was unable to regain his top spot over the Christmas break as by round 5/6 Joe retains board one ahead of IM Muir and Coffey relegated to board 3. Hang on though, all is not lost because by time we come ot the key Dundee match in round 7 Pat has obviously been practising hard because now he is back on board 1 not just ahead of Joe on (2) but also ahead of IM Muir this time as well! What a surge in "playing strength" that was. In fact Andy has clearly completely lost form as for this game he has dropped from board 2 on previous weekend down to a lowly board 4 this time.

There was me thinking this was all this order manipulation was designed to maximise difficulty for opposition - especially Dundee in key final round - to predict the order. How could I be so cynical?!

It sounds quite amusing when you put it like that ;P

I have a different view of looking at it though, maybe it just goes to show that Hamilton have out-smarted all the other teams, Edinburgh West have missed a trick by playing the same predictable board order for years, maybe if you had changed it about a bit you might have won the League more than once Big Grin
andyburnett Wrote:
JRedpath Wrote:...
Do 2100+ players really spend a lot of time on preperation? I know I don't, only very occasionally these days. Too much prep is not good and mostly becomes wasted time. Better to work on overall game and improving tactical ability.

I was hoping to save this for a later Scottish Chess article, but now seems an appropriate time to post it - (it's copied and pasted from my pages to save time so may have 1 or 2 syntax errors, apologies if so). Hope there's nothing too nasty in it ; )


"Starter question for 10: You have a critical match coming up, know you will be playing a very strong opponent and have half-a-day free at some point before the game. Do you...

a) Go out drinking and cavorting with your pals on your time off, ending up in a casino at 4am without your shirt or the taxi fare home? Or,

b) Lie in bed for a few extra hours dreaming of winning a brilliant game and being showered with gold coins by the enthralled masses around your board? Or,

c) prepare as thoroughly as time allows so that come 'kick-off' time you have a good idea of what you intend playing and why?

If you answered a) you are me 20 years ago! I once partied 'til 7am, got woken up at 7-30am, poured into a car (drunk as the proverbial skunk) and ended up beating an IM and drawing with a GM that day! Fun, but sadly those days are long gone.

Perhaps you answered b) ? Fine, but don't come crying to me when you lose horribly - apart from which there are infinitely more interesting things to dream about!

Anyway, I mostly answer c) these days myself, and so should you if you are taking your chess seriously. I have found that my best games are those in which I have prepared myself both theoretically and practically for the game in front of me, and the following game is a good example of how this helps

[pgn][Date "2012.01.31"]
[Result "1-0"]
[FEN "rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBNR w KQkq - 0 1"]
[White "Burnett, Andrew"]
[Black "Gattenloehner, Sebastian"]
[WhiteElo "2251"]
[BlackElo "2243"]
[Event "Edinburgh League"]
[Site "Edinburgh"]
[Round "7"]

{ First things first: what information can I find out on who I will be playing? I know my colour (white, being board 2 for the home team) so I need to know what openings my opponent prefers to play. As I can play both 1.e4 and 1.d4, I can hopefully find something in his repertoire which corresponds with my own knowledge. Looking up Sebastian's games as black, I find he plays the Semi-Slav defence to 1.d4. Now, I know a bit about this opening theoretically, but I have to admit that I'm not entirely comfortable with the positions that tend to arise. I don't yet have a FEEL for them. Why is this important? Surely I should just check the theory, the ideas and play from there? The problem is, when you do this and your opponent varies from known theory (even slightly) it can be difficult to find the correct answers over-the-board with the clock ticking unless you have this 'feel' for the position. So, 1.d4 is set aside. Next, how does he respond to 1.e4. Aha, he plays the Kan Variation of the Sicilian! Now THIS is more to my taste. I have quite a few wins using an aggressive approach system based on g4-g5 in the middlegame. But let's look a little deeper. How has my opponent fared with his Kan variation? Well, he seems to have lost (several years ago) in a very sharp variation where white sacs a pawn. It looks like the kind of position I'd be happy to play, and judging by his other openings, he seems to stick with them until he gets it right! So we now have a starting point for the game-plan! } 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 a6 5.Nc3 b5 6.Bd3 Qb6 7.Nf3!? { I would normally play 7.Nb3 here - not because it's a better move, but because I know the plans well. However, I had looked at this alternative knight retreat and focussed my preparation on it. } 7...Nc6 8.O-O Qb8!? { This strange-looking manouevre, and white's sharp reply, were what really caught my attention. Once you see black's idea, the move makes more sense. He wants to use the dark squares (with Bd6 perhaps) but doesn't want his queen exposed to tactical problems (Bxb5/Nd5 ideas) on it's 'normal' square c7. } 9.e5! { Although this doesn't promise white a theoretical advantage, it does attempt to cross black's strategy, and more importantly to me leads to sharp play in the middlegame where I will have the initiative for a long time, at the cost of a pawn. With short league time controls (34 moves in 75 minutes) having the initiative, putting your opponent under pressure on the board and clock, is well worth a 1-pawn investment.
It is simply PRACTICAL chess. I don't really care if there is a more theoretically challenging way of playing, I want to beat THIS particular opponent in THIS particular game! } 9...Nxe5 { Black is almost duty-bound to accept the pawn sac. The only sensible-looking alternative would be Ne7 intending to go to g6, (although the plan THERE is to take the pawn anyway!) but this gives white a couple of development moves (Re1/Bf4 or g5/maybe h4 pawn push) } 10.Nxe5 Qxe5 11.Qf3 Qb8 12.Be4!? { This represents a major crossroads for white. The main alternative is } ( 12.Bf4 { when the accurate reply } 12...Bb7 13.Be4 Bxe4 14.Nxe4 Qc8! { intending Qc6 and black is fine. It looks slightly awkward for him, but it's not too difficult to play.
Instead with the text move white keeps more tension in the position and forces black to find some difficult answers over the board. } ) 12...Ra7 13.Bf4 d6?! { It's not that I think this is a mistake as such, but } ( 13...Bd6 { looks to be an easier way of untangling. White would continue } 14.Bxd6 Qxd6 15.Rfd1 { or } ( 15.Rad1 { and would find reasonable long-term compensation in the form of black's weakend dark-squares (his bishop is no longer around to defend them) and more active and co-ordinated pieces. It's almost impossible to be definitive as to whether it's enough for a pawn investment, but for me again it's the 'feel' of the resulting position which counts. } ) ) 14.b4! { This move is very nice! I'm not sure I would have found it myself (it was suggested by Fritz13 when I was preparing for this game) but I have seen it used before in Sicilian games - I think it was Kamsky-Anand (possibly Salov?!) many moons ago where I first saw it and thought, 'oh yeah! that's a neat way of preventing ....b4!' Once seen the idea behind the move is obvious. To prevent black dislodging the knight with ....b4, and allow the a4 advance to come putting pressure on b5. Quite simple, but not too easy to defend against. } 14...Nf6 { Black HAS to finish his development. } 15.Bc6+ Bd7 16.a4 bxa4 17.b5?! { Over-the-board inspiration! I had looked at the simple 17.Rxa4 at home and was quite happy with the position, but since my opponent had been using up lots of time (45 minutes to my 16) trying to remember his half-forgotten analyses, I decided that this sharper move merited a punt. It's probably not as accurate as taking on a4, but gained another 10 minutes on the clock and sets more practical problems for black. } 17...Be7?! { Not the best response, but entirely understandable. As a couple of you have pointed out } ( 17...axb5 18.Nxb5 Ra6 { is a better defence, but my oppponent can't be blamed for trying to get castled and save some time on his clock. } ) 18.Rfb1 O-O 19.b6 { This pawn will eventually decide the day in white's favour } 19...Bxc6 20.bxa7 Qc7 21.Qe3 Ba8? { Not the best, although at the time it had me worried as black obviously intends to set up a mate threat against g2. } 22.Rxa4 Qc6 23.Qf3! { This is a strong move. If the queens come off then the a7-pawn will be unstoppable. The alternative move } ( 23.f3 d5 { looked scarier as black is threatening to win the white queen by ...Bc5. As played in the game I can triangulate to avoid this - a theme more common in endgames than middle-games! } ) 23...Qd7? { Under pressure from the very opening moves, and with 12 moves to make in under 10 minutes, black finally cracks. } ( 23...Qc7 24.Qd3 { was the idea, when } 24...Qc6 ( 24...Qxa7 25.Rxa6! { and the d-pawn falls. White would be winning as his material advantage and passed c-pawn would eventually tell } ) 25.f3 { is now safe as the queen is off the dark diagonal. } ) 24.Qxa8! { It's always pleasing to sacrifice your queen! } 24...Rxa8 25.Rb8+ Qe8 { the alternatives only save black temporarily } ( 25...Bf8 26.Rxa8 Qb7 27.Rd8 Qxa7 28.Bxd6 Nd7 29.Bxf8 Nxf8 ( 29...Qc7 30.Be7+ ) 30.Rc4 ) 26.Rxe8+ Nxe8 27.Rxa6 Nc7 { Now it's simply a matter of finding the right way to deflect black's pieces from defence of the queening square. Unfortunately, the immediate } 28.Ra2 ( 28.Rb6 { fails to } 28...Rxa7 29.Rb8+ Bf8 30.Bxd6 Ra1+ 31.Nb1 Rxb1+ 32.Rxb1 Bxd6 { when it's white who has to be careful } ) 28...Kf8 29.Be3 Ke8 30.g4!! { A fantastic move or, perhaps, a really stupid and unnecessary one? It's the latter I'm afraid! Whenever we play a game, we analyse lots of possibilities, and these possibilities change move-by-move. Caught up in the heat of the moment, it can be easy to forget that a threat which was serious in one variation, or a few moves ago, is no longer a threat! Likewise, what wasn't a threat one minute, can be dangerous the next given what's happened in-between times. So it was here I'm afraid. The note to move 28 sees my combination fail to a weak back rank, so this move gets rid of that problem. Of course, my previous move had already inadvertently taken care of that problem, so 30.g4 is entirely irrelevant! On the plus side though, it made my opponent use up precious seconds with only 1 minute remaining on his clock 'til move 34! } 30...Rc8 31.Rb2 { This should have been preferred last move. } 31...Kd7?! { There is no real defence left, but Sebastian's next few moves make life a bit easier for me. } 32.Rb7 Kc6 33.Rb8 Rd8?! { As pointed out by Artsew in his book-winning YouTube analysis, this square is unfortunate for the black rook. } 34.Bb6 { here black resigned as his flag was about to fall and there is no sensible answer available, e.g. } 34...Kd7 35.Rxd8+ Bxd8 36.Bxc7 Kxc7 37.a8=Q { I hope you have enjoyed this game and learned something from the article as a whole. My preparation was done in about 2 or 3 hours, which is about the most we can expect to have free as amateur players. Use the time wisely if the game is important to you and/or your team. find out who you are most likely to be playing, check his games for positions he likes to play but which may be dubious-looking or difficult in practice, and where you will feel comfortable or have some ideas you want to try. Think practically at all times - and focus on what you are trying to achieve one game at a time! }

Nice game Andy. For sure there are benefits to doing prep, especially if your opponent plays very predictable openings all the time. Maybe I just lack the motivation, many other things I would rather do with my time than spend 4-5 hours preparing for a game on the off-chance my opponent plays down the same line Tongue
Hi Joe,

I have played 17 serious games this season and my preparation has been worthwhile/useful in 5 of them (and 2 halfs!). The game doesn't have to go right down the line to be useful.

Also some prep. I did last year came in useful at Edinburgh last week. That's not bad, and I guess the average prep. time was 2-3 hours (sometimes less/sometimes more if it's an enjoyable position/opening/middlegame analyse).
If you are studying chess seriously (be it specific preparation/endgamestudy/ tactics etc), nothing is ever really wasted Smile If you wanted to be an IM you could still reach that easily with some hard work!


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