The British Championship is over for another year, and trying to follow it from a distance, instead of being there among the blood, sweat and tears, has proved novel and somewhat frustrating, though Steve Connor’s excellent work on the website has reduced this to a minimum.
For the sake of relaying events to a general readership in the Western Morning News, I’ve concentrated on trying to follow the fortunes of the five “local” players – the two native-born Cornishmen, Michael Adams and Andrew Greet, and the three adopted Devonians, Keith Arkell, Jack Rudd and Dominic Mackle. Not a dull process, either, as all five made headlines in one way or another.
Naturally, Adams won it at a canter, and it was difficult to try and generate any suspense by pretending “anything might happen”. It was never going to; Adams is a class act, and it certainly showed at Canterbury. His only failure was to equal Julian Hodgson’s total of 10 points at Plymouth in 1992. With his compatriot present, Greet was never likely to follow his recently-won Scottish title with a British one; in fact, at the end of the 1st week, he was lost in the pack, but a fine week 2, yielding 4/5 points brought him up to 3rd=, a fine performance in the circumstances.
The “Devonians” fared rather less well; after an explosive start beating 2 GMs and Greet – a GM norm-holder- , Jack Rudd then fell back, scoring only another 3 points from 8 further games. Contrast that with last year when he started with a dismal 1/4 points, but finished with his best-ever score in the British of 7 points. That’s Jack for you, unpredictable as ever. Does doing the Bulletin and playing in the cricket team and doing the Sunday Simul (as he did last year at Torquay) help or hinder his performance OTB? Keith Arkell who finished with 7, must have played more moves than any other player in the history of the championship, one game alone requiring 160 moves (each!) to reach a draw. Probably the best performance of all in terms of tournament grade over actual grade (194) was that of Dominic Mackle, whose 6.5/11 total was excellent. There are many good stories involved in just these five players’ performances – doubtless more will emerge in the coming weeks.
In spite of my absence from Canterbury, life has been pretty frantic as my book on the history of the Paignton Congress came to a frenetic climax at the same time. The deal is that all players at the 60th Congress in a few weeks’ time, will get a free copy, so there was never any way of pushing back the deadline. Further complicating matters is the fact that I’m going away tomorrow for 2 weeks and return just 2 weeks before the event starts. So it all had to be tied up before today – all printer’s proofs read and corrected, cover design agreed etc. etc. - nothing that might need further decisions when I’m away. After some midnight oil-burning this has just been achieved with about 2 days to spare.