Went up to Exeter after tea to catch the opening of the East Devon Congress, and hoping to catch 3 particular people before the start of play – Keith Arkell, Andrew Footner (WECU Congress Secretary) and Ewart Smith (Chief Arbiter of same). On arrival, I found Ewart Smith was not, in fact, due to control this event, and neither Arkell nor Footner had entered, in spite of earlier assurances from them that they would.
This somewhat reduced the value of the effort made, but there were enough folk around to talk to.
For example, anyone doubting the existence of reincarnation may like to consider this picture.
It’s none other than Bill Fairbairn, here making his first appearance on the chess scene for about 20 years. He used to live in Dartington, near Totnes, and organised the annual Dartington Christmas Congress, and wrote an extensive chess column for the local Herald Express. He “vanished” for many years, but has now re-emerged living in Exeter, not far from his sister, Saxon Spence, the well-known East Devon politician.
Also playing were former Exmouth member, Dr. Adam Woodruff, whose only contact with the area since he moved to the London area is this event. He was devoted to the French Defence which he always managed to steer into choppy waters.
Dave Toms was present, but other members had taken the available half point bye and would appear on Saturday morning.
The unexplained non-appearance of Arkell left Dominic Mackle as favourite for the top section, with his grade of 200, but with a number of regular contenders on his tail – the Bristolians Dilleigh and Helbig among them – and keep an eye out for the local newcomer, Tim Paulden, whose recent results are well in excess of his estimated grade.