Maycock wins Easter Blitz with perfect score

We celebrated the conjunction of Easter Monday and April Fool’s Day with a Blitz tournament in which each player’s opening move was randomly selected and castling was banned

April Fool’s Day landing on an Easter Monday club night at the Willoughby Arms called for something a bit different. So inspired by an invigorating talk by the late IM Michael Basman in 2022, where he made players roll a 20-sided dice to randomise their opening moves, this Easter blitz tournament had a bit of a twist. Before a game each player drew their first move by random, and, just to ensure general opening theory was completely blown out of the water, players were also not allowed to castle. Crazy openings and exposed kings – what fun ahead!

There were 23 participants, with friends from neighbouring Surbiton Chess Club joining us for six rounds of 7+3 blitz. Despite the first opening combination drawn out the hat being the “not in the spirit of things” 1. e4 e5, this was quickly followed by the moans and groans of the recipients of a4, Nh6 etc. As tournament controller, I noticed without fail that about one minute into each round at least one player would exasperatedly gasp “Oh ****, I forgot I can’t castle!”

It was interesting to see how people dealt with this change to usual chess principles. Many would leave the king in the middle and go for the kill. Others would try to create a safe square for the king on their third rank, the younger players inspired by the Bongcloud! Manual castling was also attempted, but often felt too slow, while many tried to create a fortress – I was impressed by Ben Hambridge’s attempt below.

The ultimate fortress: Ben Hambridge (left) surrounds his king with pieces in his game against Rob Taylor

Interesting games proceeded throughout the evening, with many kings mated in the middle of the board, but all the players agreed it was a fun night of blitz with lots of strategic lessons to be learned. Kingston’s David Maycock prevailed, with a perfect score of 6/6, closely followed by Surbiton’s Chris Briscoe and our very own Peter Lalić. All notably strong players of course. Which proves that no matter how you tamper with the rules, quality will out.

Gregor Smith

Prize winners

1st: David Maycock (6/6)
2nd: Chris Briscoe (5/6)
3rd: Peter Lalić (4.5/6)

U2000 grading prize: Ernest Robinson (4/6)

U1600 grading prize: Ben Hambridge (3.5/6)
U1400 grading prize: Leon Mellor-Sewell (3/6)
Top junior: Joe Inch (3/6)

Easter Blitz winner David Maycock (left) receives his £50 cash prize from tournament controller Gregor Smith