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British Championship – Torquay – Day 5

Friday, 31 July 2009

Day 5

Visitors: As entries continue to move up towards the 1,000 mark, the number of players in the hall is augmented by interested spectators who are just here to watch the big boys in action. Today, for example we have “C.J.”, one of the Egghead team from the popular quiz show on BBC2. When he first reached adulthood he decided he wanted to make a name for himself, and he started by doing just that – literally. He made up the name Connagh-Joseph de Mooi, the last bit being Dutch for “the pretty one”.
He never does things by half, and for a decade (1993 – 2003) he was very much into chess, playing as many as 350 graded games each year in the late ’90s. In 2002 he was British Mensa Chess Champion, and has played in the 4NCL.
From that he starting getting onto TV quiz shows – everything from Countdown to 15-1 – but most famously Weakest Link, when, after was voted off, he went into a calculated rant about hoping his opponents, and their families all died a horrible and lingering death. This clip got onto YouTube in their “World’s Worst Losers” slot, and it got him noticed by TV executives, and when Eggheads was being developed he was invited onto the team of experts, where he has been ever since. Filming takes up 3 months a year. He spends 3 hours every day swotting up while cycling on his exercise bike, honing body and mind at the same time. It takes that kind of dedication.
But he has never lost his love for chess and likes to keep tabs on what’s happening.

                                                                                                                         Eggead CJ in the office.

Balloon Match: This stunt, as reported earlier, had to be ditched at the last moment, and we had hoped to try again today at 1 p.m. It hasn’t ascended at all this week until last night at about 18.30,when it went up once and got blown about a bit. After dark, however, in the calm of the evening air, it did rise again spectacularly floodlit. At the moment, the balloon folk say it’s touch and go for 13.00, but as Jack Rudd’s ill, and Andrew Greet is on a train from St. Austell it really doesn’t look likely. Will this project ever get off the ground?

12.30; Jack Rudd’s just reported sick and from here I can see a man standing on top of the balloon, making running repairs, so it’s off for today.

                                                                                          Yesterday’s solitary daylight ascent, from our office window.
Review of Rd. 4: As anticipated, Dowell v Jones on top board was a somewhat cautious affair, neither player wishing to risk too much. All of which allowed Lawrence Trent to join them on 3.5/4 with a win over the higher-rated Simon Williams.

When he first walked in the hall on Monday he said he felt better prepared than he was last year at Liverpool, where he seemed to lose focus in the latter stages and got a bit rattled at one stage. His position today on Bd. 1 facing Howell seems to bear that out. He could feature well up in the prize list next week. The two English champions did badly again; Arkell losing for a 2nd time and Conquest struggling late into the evening to save his half point. Andrew Martin’s Game of the round was by Stephen Gordon for his superbly conducted attack with the Black pieces against David Eggleston.

Below: Stephen Gordon receives his Game of the Day prize from Andrew Martin, before starting his Rd. 5 game.

                                                                                                               Above: Bd. 1 game Howell v Trent.

Special T-Shirts: Earlier this morning Andy Holter started setting up a stall in the foyer selling a range of T-Shirts , sweatshirts, jackets etc. that can be customised with a further range of chess-based designs. He works for a firm called Fine Designs, a US company with a base in Sussex, covering the whole of the UK, selling their imprinted sportswear at many events.

Finding suitable models to show the goods off to their best effect was no problem; Sheila Dines and Lateefah Messam-Sparks (British Girl Champions at U-15 and U-16 respectively) are old hands at this kind of thing, and it didn’t take much to get the following super shots outside the playing hall.

Above: General view of the entrance to the foyer of the Riviera Centre.

Below: Sheila and Lateefah model the sportswear.

Above: When excited, they can stay airborne like this for hours!

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