Keith Osborne plays in the Streatham Rapidplay – and wins!

This was a new event for me, and it also had the attraction of being in a place that I did not know. I know London well, but not Streatham, so it seemed a good opportunity to get to know the area.

Over the years I have played in many congresses, both in the UK and abroad, so when this opportunity arose in a new location, I jumped at it. Increasingly, I now favour one-day Rapidplay events over full weekend congresses, as I find that I seldom have the time to devote to a weekend of playing chess.

Streatham Library, venue of the Rapidplay tournament

The venue for this event was Streatham Library, on Streatham High Street, which is a bustling main road, lined with shops and cafes. The library is a wonderful Edwardian civic building and was about a 10-minute walk from Streatham Hill station. The Streatham area has several railway stations, so it is easy to get to. Additionally, Streatham High Street is served by plentiful buses. The chess event was held in a separate room adjacent to the library, complete with a small kitchen, and a tiny garden at the rear; how delightful to have a green oasis at the event!

The event had about 50 entrants, split into two sections.  I was in the Minor section. Most of the entrants were from the south London area. During the day I found that one of my opponents was from Manchester, he lived in an area that I was familiar with having lived there 30 years ago.

And so, to play! We started promptly, and I was fortunate in my first game to win my opponent’s queen in the opening! But he was not fazed by this catastrophic event, and went on to allow me to win a rook, and then, when I was threatening to also win a bishop he threw in the towel. After we handed in the result, we went out into the bright Saturday sunshine to talk, and he told me that he lived some way away. In fact, he lived in a town that is the only town in England to have “zz” in its name. Do you know which county he lived in?

The second game began more conventionally, but by the late opening I was confident that things were going my way, and indeed they were. This game was longer, and while I was not in time trouble (the time for each player was 25 minutes), my opponent was running short, and with not much time left he resigned. While I did not have an immediate win, he told me afterward that he did not think in his limited time left he would be able to find the correct moves.

At this point, during the allocated “lunch break”, I went to Streatham High Street for coffee and a croissant. Suitably fortified, I came back for round three, in which I won a much shorter game, and round four, a relatively easy win. Round five was where I had to work hard as my opponent was clearly a strong player, and it was the only game during the day that I was conscious that I had made a weak move. We ended up in an endgame with my three pawns to his bishop and pawn, so we agreed a draw, as I could not see how to force a win.

The last game was a fairly easy win for me, so I ended up with 5.5 points out of 6, making me joint first, and winning £75! A very enjoyable day.

Looking forward to my next Rapidplay event in December, the Dons Christmas fun event.

Keith Osborne

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