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Paignton Congress Day 4

As most players at Paignton know, there has been, after 62 years in the same room, a cloud of uncertainty over the future of the event, due to the fact that the Borough Council are in the process of handing over the Oldway estate to property developers, the Akkeron Group. This has been on the cards for several years, and in recent months little seems to have been happening. The Council’s problem has been the on-going cost of maintaining the mansion to the standard set by its builder, Paris Singer. The out-buildings are mostly derelict and unusable, while the mansion itself is starting to go the same way – the roof is defective and water is starting to penetrate the structure. Even in Ballroom there is a dark, menacing-looking patch of rot high up on one of the walls.

However, on arrival last Sunday, it was clear that things have moved on. Most of the 300 council employees that are based in the Mansion have moved to other premises and their office spaces are now empty, as is much of the car park; no longer is it a nightmare to find a space in – parking has never been so easy. And it has been confirmed that there will no chess at Oldway in September 2013 as the builders will have moved in by then.

At first, after some unsuccessful preliminary enquiries about possible alternative venues , the Committee was minded to take a sabbatical for 2013 and see how accommodating the new management might be once the Mansion-cum council offices had been turned into a top class hotel.

Early this morning, the restaurant manageress let it be known that Akkeron’s MD, James Brent, with a group of (presumably) project managers had been seen working their way around the extensive grounds, taking photographs with “a very large camera”. Around 10 a.m. Congress Secretary Alan Crickmore set off in chase, in the hope of collaring Brent to talk about the prospects for 2014, but the group had vanished.

Talking to the Mayor on Sunday, it was clear that the developers do not have a completely free hand to do anything that takes their fancy. Written in to the contract is the restriction that what parts of the house are currently open to the public – the entrance hall, gallery and Ballroom – must remain largely unchanged and open to the public, as the estate was originally was bequeathed by the Singer family to the community, conditions that the Council itself has had to adhere to for 65 years.

Later, there was a surprise visit by Mark Jones, Akkeron’s Development Manager, in company with Iain Masters, Senior Development Surveyor of  the Torbay Development Agency. Jones was certain that the Oldway conversion project was programmed to run over 18 months, starting next summer, so there was no way they could accommodate the Congress in 2013 or 2014 – something of a downer. However, Masters was sure that Torre Abbey would make an ideal alternative venue. It is adjacent to the Riviera Centre and near the sea-front. It’s currently under renovation, but should be ready to take bookings from next summer. It can seat 200 people for functions, and, although very different from Oldway, is an even more historic site. It used to host large chess events in the 60s & ’70s – the WECU Championship being one.

Something to watch out for.

Meanwhile, back at the board, of the 3 joint leaders, Berry and Bates shared the points, leaving Arkell able to push on into clear first. Harari is not one of the Paignton regulars, but is making a strong run, taking the scalp of Dave Ledger.

Here are the rest of the results:

Bd   Paignton     Premier  
    Rd. 4        
1 (3) K. C. Arkell 1 0 S. P. Dilleigh (3)
2 (3) S. Berry ½ ½ R. A. Bates (2½)
3 (2) Z. Harari 1 0 D. Ledger (2½)
4 (2) D. Mackle 1 0 J. McKenna (2)
5 (2) J. F. Wheeler ½ ½ A. M. Stone (2)
6 (2) J. Burnett ½ ½ M. Healey (2)
7 (1½) A. Pickersgill ½ ½ J. H. Hodgson (1½)
8 (1½) M. J. Simons 1 0 D. Littlejohns (1½)
9 (1½) G. Bolt ½ ½ A. M. Brown (1½)
10 (1½) J. W. Bass 0 1 P. R. Kemp (1½)
11 (1½) D. O. Collier 1 0 A. W. Brusey (1½)
12 (1½) J. C. Wells ½ ½ A. Crombleholme (1½)
13 (1½) J. Waterfield ½ ½ I. Lewyk (1½)
14 (1½) T. Spanton 0 1 D. B. Rosen (1½)
15 (1½) C. Herda 0 1 R. A. Barton (1½)
16 (1½) J. E. Hickman 0 1 D. A. Cutmore (1½)
17 (1) C. Archer-Lock 1 0 J. Coburn (½)
18 (1) A. Archer-Lock ½ ½ M. J. Cutmore (½)
19 (1) M. Shaw 0 1 R. J. Webster (½)
20 (½) G. Taylor 0 1 K. D. Gregory (½)
21 (0) P. L. Cheshire ½ ½ N. Mahoney (½)
22 (½) S. J. Burke 1   bye (0)

Access the games here ▼

Bd. 1: Arkell vs Dilleigh and the other top boards.

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