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11th Beacon Seniors – A Review.

Looking back on the week, it all seemed to go very well, apart from a few minor glitches that were sorted within minutes. There was no need to call an ambulance at any point, and no-one went off at the end with someone else’s suitcase, as has happened in previous years – perhaps something one should expect in an event where the combined ages of the players reaches into the several thousand.

The “Junior” section finished as one might have thought, with Mike Yeo (195)  the clear winner, but not by the expected route. He started with 2 draws, while his nearest opponent, Alan Brusey (175), finished with a requested half point bye and a default, having overlooked the earlier start to the final round, which gifted Yeo at least a share of 1st prize. There had been an element of luck in Yeo’s penultimate game as well, when his opponent forgot to press his clock near the end and ran out of time. It was left to Simon Barlett to try and beat fellow Cornishman, Colin Sellman, in order to share 1st place, but try as he did, had to be content with a draw, and clear 2nd. Ronnie Burton did well in this company to remain, like Bartlett, unbeaten throughout, and he was rewarded with the U-160 Grading prize.

Faced with 53 players in the Senior Section,  graded from 187 – 79, Arbiter Ewart Smith chose the sensible option of employing the Accelerated Swiss pairing system, in order to avoid the possibility of a number of total mismatches in the 1st round. The pairing cards of the top half of the order had a green corner inked in, and as the rounds progressed it was easy to see the extent to which the two halves mixed in, with the cards of the in-form players from the lower half, like Hazel Welch (115), rising to the top, while some of the green-tipped cards sank to the nether regions of the pairing board.

The eventual 5-way tie for 1st place tells its own story of the closeness of the section, and there was prizemoney all the way down the list with approximately equal numbers in each band, so interest was maintained throughout the order and throughout the week. Of the five 1sts, Stimpson and Dodgson settled for a share of at least 2nd place with a quick draw, leaving only John Footner able to overtake them, who after having played with great focus throughout the week, lost to newcomer, Terry Stuttard in a complicated position. Stuttard hadn’t played chess for 30 years, but in his heyday was active in the Greater Manchester team under the captaincy of Jim Nicolson, one of our regular seniors in the early years. An estimated grade of 150 seemed not unreasonable in the circumstances, but he is clearly not as rusty as he thought he might be; next year’s Grading List will reveal all. Chris Carr started slowly with 2 draws, but then came through with 3 wins. He had to fight hard in his last game, as Hazel Welch, playing well above her grade, pushed him all the way in one of the last games to finish.

As they gradually left the hall, most players expressed their personal thanks to the officials and were certain in their wish to return next year. As I was packing up the kit, on his way out Mike Kaye thrust a large cheque into my hand to cover his entry for 2011, as he always does every year, because, as he explains, he has a bad memory. I always counter that I have just as bad a memory and a year hence will probably have forgotten that he did this – but it makes no difference – we usually muddle through. It’s all part of being a Senior.

Later this week, cheques will be sent out to all the winners, as well as a definitive prizelist to them and the usual media outlets. With a bit of luck, next year’s brochures might be ready too.

All legible game scores will be available on the chessdevon website, keyed in by Bill Frost.

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