Wessex Online Tournaments – Review of 2021

Wessex Online Tournaments – Review of 2021

Keith Gregory sends the following review of the enduringly popular Wessex Online 5 minutes + 5 seconds tournaments.

4NCL Wessex (and friends!) – a 2021 review

As we move into 2022 and our 3rd year of “4NCL Wessex Online” chess, with the official 4NCL Online season 5 starting 25th January, it seems a good time to reflect on 2021 and our 52 x “4NCL Wessex Weekly Swiss tournaments”

These are friendly yet fiercely competitive 5 round Swiss tournaments held each week – initially all on Fridays and more recently “moved around the week” to give everyone a chance to attend.

A few stats:

  • The first ever Wessex Online tournament was held on 30th March 2020
  • 104 tournaments have been run to date (initially we had two per week before settling on one per week which seems to work best)
  • In 2021 53 different players have played in one or more tournaments, with 13 different players winning one or more of them
  • Jamie Chilton has played in an impressive 40 of them whilst other “frequent flyers” include Keith Gregory (34), Jaimie Wilson, Matt Deacon & Allan Pleasants (all 27)
  • Several players have achieved 5/5 on at least one occasion (no mean achievement given the strength of tournament) – David Pye, Keith Gregory, Mickey Blake & Peter Anderson
  • The tournaments take some winning, with a mix of 2100s , 2200s & even some 2300s most weeks
  • The grade result of the winner has ranged from “a mere” 2263 up to an awesome 2672(!) – see table below
  • Whilst the podium has been dominated by 2100+ players there’s been a fair few 1900+ players securing a top 3 placing too
  • The Swiss format ensures that after a couple of rounds things level out and people get competitive games so it’s open for anyone to play in and still get results. We have “1200 regulars” who clearly enjoy playing alongside some of the stronger players.
  • The 23rd April saw 18 players (our highest ever) ranging from 1658 => 2328

Some players have had some great individual results on occasion and played way above their grade, see the table below for the “highest performance v grade”.

A surprise for me has been the number of spectators we have had – given the hard-fought nature of the games it is entertaining some weeks to take a time-out and watch rather than play 😊

I was a spectator when the (for me) “move of the year” was played on 4th June in round 1 – Roland Bezuidenhout (White) had a tactical bloodbath with Martin Simons (Black) and got to the position below – whilst the position looked incomprehensible to me and I would have lost quickly with either colour I knew Martin would be in his element and so it proved as he found the astonishing Bxf2 in just 6 seconds and went on to win very quickly. (Martin has modestly said this was the result of his study of the Stafford Gambit but it is nonetheless very impressive)!

We also have an international dimension with John Zastapilo (Belgium & ex-Chandlers Ford) regularly playing and Kev Byard (ex-CF and now in NZ!) sometimes watching at silly o clock there…

So what does the future hold… ?

On a purely selfish basis…

  • I’ve really enjoyed organising all of them and playing in most of them
  • It’s also helped me keep in touch with so many of my chess buddies who I haven’t seen for nearly two years now – the “chat” banter can be very entertaining on occasion!

On a less selfish basis

  • “Hybrid chess” (with players combining OTB & Online) seems to be here to stay and I’d like to help this continue
  • The Wessex tournaments are a great opportunity for our thriving south coast chess community to meet up for fun, chat and chess
  • As a recent retiree I now have the time to organise these in advance (hence I’m now planning them 4 weeks in advance v the previous 4 days, sometimes 4 hours!)

So…….if people keep turning up, I’ll keep organising them 😊

Keith Gregory, 1st January 2022

And from those of us who play in them, even occasionally, thanks to Keith for organising the tournaments.  You can find out more about the tournaments, past results, and contact Keith via his lichess account on the following links.