I set my mobile phone alarm on silent vibrate early on Sunday morning. After carefully getting out of bed without disturbing my better half, I quietly got dressed (into the previous day’s clothes to avoid opening any cupboards) & left the house. I was on the M60 before the inevitable phone call came….’where are you?’ ‘I thought I told you that I was going to play chess today darling’ ( I had told her weeks ago – you know the sort of conversation when you tell someone something in passing in the hope that they didn’t really pick up on what you said?) I had escaped for the day – she would have to go wallpaper shopping with just her sister. I felt free & very clever that my plan had worked.
I had entered the Knight’s section (up to 125) & as I’m graded 123 I felt that I had a chance of doing well. I won my first 2 games fairly comfortably, blundered a rook for bishop in my 3rd but managed to fight back & achieve a win & escaped a potential mate in 3 in my 4th game to get away with a draw by perpetual check. The 5th game was a tame draw which left me as 1 of 4 players with 4 points & there was 1 player with 4.5.
Fortunately I got drawn against the leader so a tournament victory was mine if I could beat him. As Black I played the Caro-Khan e4 c6, d4 d5, e5 c5 – he declined my initial gambit & played c3 with me later playing c4 it left the Queen side with a pawn blockade. White castled Kingside so I attacked with my minor pieces where I managed to win a Rook for a Knight after he pushed his King side pawns forward to counter-attack. He managed to break through on the f file & chased my King from f8 across the board to b6 with a series of checks. After consolidating I managed to pin his Bishop to his unguarded Rook & eventually his flag went down with me firmly on top. 1 of the other players on 4 points had also won so I shared first place & the prize money.I returned home very happy after another hour & a half on the Motorways, but expecting a mouthful from the other half for leaving her for the day. But she was pleased to see me, to my amazement she told me that she had heard the alarm vibrate but stayed in bed pretending to be asleep. She wanted me out of the way as her plan was for her & her sister to go shopping without me so that she could choose whatever wallpaper she wanted without me putting the expensive rolls back on the shelves! A hot sweat came over me (which is even more unpleasant when you’re wearing the same underwear for the second day in a row) – I’d been double bluffed. After adding my entry fee, petrol, lunch etc to the cost of the wallpaper she'd bought, it came to more than the prize money I’d won! Now all I need to do is find another Congress next weekend to play in, so I don’t have to help her hang the bloody stuff…….
Steve Whatmore (Congress man)