Sunday, March 02, 2014

It's the EGP!

It seems like ages since I went to an othello tournament. And incidentally, Blogger, stop auto-capitalising "othello", please - I've always spelt it with a lower-case o, and I don't intend to stop now, whether or not the general consensus is a capital letter even for the board game. Not that Blogger knows I'm talking about the board game, the stupid thing, it thinks I'm talking about Shakespeare, I bet.

Where was I? Oh yes, Cambridge. I was in Cambridge this weekend, for the British leg of the European Grand Prix, also known as the Cambridge International. Lots of capital letters there, and I bet Blogger wouldn't auto-correct half of them if I'd forgotten them. We were in the luxurious surroundings of the Old Combination Room at Trinity College - I have no idea why it's called that, but it's dominated by enormous life-sized full-body portraits of illustrious people and basically looks like the kind of room that you'd find in Buckingham Palace if they held Othello tournaments there. The college porters, that army of bowler-hatted men who wander around the university doing unfathomable portery things, call it "the OCR".

We had 27 competitors from all around Europe - 9 British, 6 Dutch, 4 French, 2 Belgian, one each from Germany, Greece, Italy and Norway, and an American and Malaysian who live in Europe and came along to make it super-international. I'm so out of practice that I did really terribly, but that was only to be expected. It's just fun to be in the surroundings of an Othello competition - the click-clack of flipping discs, the buzz of conversation about games that have just finished, the sssssssh from someone who's still playing their game and wants the conversation to shut up so they can concentrate, the very-slightly-quieter-for-a-split-second conversation continuing unabated...

Highlights for me included a chance to apply my Golden Rule of othello (see, it doesn't get a capital letter even now) - always play a Stoner trap if it's possible, whether or not it looks like it might be a good idea. This all comes from a time when I decided not to play one and it turned out to be a good idea after all. And this time, it worked! Also, I won a really quite exciting game against Benkt, 33-31 that made up for losing quite a lot of other games in horrible ways.

I ended up with 5 points from 11 rounds, including one for a bye, and finished 20th out of 27 - which is obviously worse than the half-way point I normally aim for, but I don't really mind. The excitement came at the top end of the leaderboard - Imre was all-conquering on the first day but was caught up on the second by the European contingent; the final ended up between him and Nicky van den Biggelaar, who won 33-31 in the final game!

It's good to be back in the othelloing swing of things, although from now until the end of April I'm going to try to devote myself to memory. And not just normal memory, EXTREME memory! I'll blog about it at length tomorrow, if only to keep myself properly motivated.