Logistical preparations at the Royal Beacon Hotel went as well as they have ever done. The evening before, tables were all set out by the staff before Messrs Smith (Arbiter) and Jones (Organiser) arrived. Tablecloths were quickly laid out and equipment distributed.
It wasn’t until the final hour before play was due to start at 1.p.m. today (Monday) that little cracks started to appear in these smooth arrangements. One player missed his train in London, and then missed the next one as well, and phoned in to say he would be late. Another regular thought it was a 2 p.m. start before being reminded by his wife that it had always been 1 o’clock and had to drive quickly across 2 counties to arrive late. Two players walked in whose entry had unaccountably gone AWOL (it happens every year) , while a fifth got stuck in the Gents for 10 minutes until staff arrived to prize open the door. All good fun, but all hurdles were cleared by the appointed hour, even the latcomers escaping being defaulted.
It has to be noted that the overall entry was down a little on recent years – 53 in the Seniors (the over-60s) and 10 in the “Juniors” ( the 50-somethings). At least this meant a little extra leg-room for everyone.
Though small in numbers, the “Juniors” looked a strong section on paper with last year’s winner, Mike Yeo, (195) a clear favourite, and late entry John Ariss (111) looking like a potential lamb to the slaughter. But things didn’t work out like that at all, as Ariss got a quick draw with Steve Dean (156) of Sidmouth, and Ronnie Burton of Weymouth got a draw against Yeo after a much longer struggle.
Faced with 53 in the Seniors and a wide ability range, Ewart Smith chose to adopt an accellerated Swiss system in order to avoid any David v Goliath mis-matches in Round 1. Under this system, instead of the top half (according to playing strength) playing the bottom half, the top quarter play the 2nd quarter, and the 3rd quarter play the 4th. This keeps the ability range to reasonable proportions. There seemed to be fewer eyebrow-raising results here, and the top seeds came through unscathed – Ken Norman, John Dodgson, John Footner, Martin Page and Phil Stimpson, to name but 5.
Here are bits of the action in both sections….