"Tis all a Chequer-board of Nights and Days
Where Destiny with Men for Pieces plays:
Hither and thither moves, and mates, and slays,
And one by one back in the Closet lays."
Omar Khayyam, around 1070
Two days prior to Day 5 (Day 3) I had learned that the food and drinks provided in our playing area were free, and until then I hadn't yet taken advantage of this rare opportunity. So before Round 5 I got there 15 minutes early and had as many sandwiches as I could eat in 15 minutes. Now that I was well- (and possibly over-) nourished and very keen to end my miserable losing streak, the gong sounded, and I began my Round 5 game with the white pieces against Dutchman FM Bart Gijswijt (2341). (There actually was a gong that the arbiter sounded at 1:00pm each day to signal the start of the round. So getting there early wasn't just to eat sandwiches, but also to make sure I didn't miss this battle-inducing BDO novelty.)
The opening was similar to the Cambridge Springs variation of the Queen's Gambit Declined, but with the moves a4 and a6 inserted. Whether or not it is advantageous for White to play this way, I wasn't sure, but I got quite a reasonable position after my opponent missed a couple of opportunites to combat my weaknesses. After a pawn sacrifice later in the game, my opponent made the mistake of offering a second pawn thinking that he would be able to trap my bishop, but missed a nice combination I could play to rescue the piece or win material.
(show chess board)(hide chess board)
It seemed I was suddenly back on track and playing better. Was it the food? We may never know for sure. But I continued to eat better for the rest of the tournament just in case.
In Round 6 I played another Dutchman Tom Bottema (2247). The game started with the 3...g6 variation of the Rossolimo (1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 g6), which lead to a very comfortable position for me after my opponent neglected to make an early pawn push and instead allowed me to take hold of the centre and enjoy a significant space advantage. After reaching quite a good-looking middle game, I found it very hard to know which plan to follow and after a thinking for a long time I chose the wrong one. After this he was well and truly back in the game, and soon he was a bit better but missed a few chances to give me serious problems. After we had both reached the time control (30 mins added on after 40 moves), I was a pawn up but with quite an unsafe king and I had to be careful. However my opponent made a terrible blunder on move 41 allowing forced mate in 6.
After 41.Qf3?? the rest of the game went 41...Re1+ 42.Kh2 Bg1+ 43.Kh1 Bf2+ 44.Kh2 Rh1+ 0-1. If he had played 41.Qg3 Bf8 42.c4 instead, the game would probably be drawn with best play.
|Playing area for GM and IM groups (before the tournament)|
|Playing area for BDO Open|
In the 7th round I came to the playing hall expecting to be playing White against James Jackson (after not double-checking the pairings), and when I got to my board I realised with quite a shock I was actually paired with IM Piet Peelen (2354) whom I hadn't done any preparation for. But somehow, probably due to my morale-boosting rounds 5 and 6 I managed to play my best game of the tournament.
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In Round 8 I played Black against English player James Jackson (2157) who was asked to fill in for Reiner Odendahl on account of the latter falling ill immediately before the tournament. The game started with a variation of the Sveshnikov which lead to quite a blocked up position. My opponent made a mistake by castling, which allowed me to attack and develop my pieces on the kingside. Later in the game we both missed good some chances but eventually we got down to an interesting R+B vs. R+N where I was down a pawn but my strong knight on c5 gave me enough compensation for it. The rest of the game is shown below.
|Walking around Haarlem|