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Handicap tournament in Pyhajarve

In Pyhajarve at the last weekend of November was held the strongest handicap tournament ever. It was 15th in the row thanks to former Estonian prime minister Mr. Tiit Vahi. The venue was Pyhajarv Spa and I was the lucky winner. I participated years ago and was not successfull. Now there were not real ELO favorite and the winner was decided in the last day. Total with 34 players it was not easy to maintain the same playing strenght throughout the tournament. First day seven rounds were played, but most difficult was the next day with 20 rounds. The handicap system was following. Total time control was 20 minutes and players were in five groups. First group all grandmasters had against weakest group players only two minutes without an increment. As one of the weakest players put it, we are here to spoil someones’s tournament. Among participants were all strong Estonian players, cultures figures and business men alike. Visiting players included minister of economy Dana Rieznice from Latvia and now banker in Lviv, former famous number one player from Iceland Margeir Petursson. The tournament atmosphere was friendly and despite some last second fight on board all games finished with mutual agreement. If you check the games on live I remind you again that there were not increment, this is why so many mistakes were made at the end of the game. All results you may find on Yours truly was the lucky winner. I had some luck already in the first round. In the diagram position my opponent could win with 1…Rh2 and next move is Nf3 winning. Instead he took his rook and captured my pawn on a2 and after d7 he resigned.

There were some young players among participants, one of them Mai Narva, young girl from Estonia who is already European junior rapid champion.

Margeir Petursson was out of practise and this influenced his time management. In the following game he lost in time.

Throughout the tournament young Estonian talent Ottomar Ladva was my main rival, he beat me and other strong Estonian Kaido Kulaots and before last three rounds we both were leading. His style illustrates following game.

Before last day I and Ottomar shared first place. I won three games in a row and suddenly I could afford to make three draws in last rounds to secure first place. Following game was crucial for my overall victory.

I think this kind of handicap is good for promoting chess and might be interesting for sponsors who can participate themselves.

By Jaan Ehlvest