The Paignton Congress started on Sunday with another slight drop in entries, and some talk among players and organisers about the possible reasons for this, including comparisons between the relative virtues of its original venue of 62 years, Oldway Mansion, and its current one at the Livermead House Hotel. The latter is an excellent venue, but there seems to be an unconscious yearning for a return to its roots.
As is well-known, Oldway was acquired by James Brent’s Akkeron Group, with promises of turning the main building into a luxury hotel and hopes that the congress might be able to return there. But nothing was done as Brent and the Torbay Council locked horns over the best way to proceed. In January Akkeron sued the Council for £8 million in damages, but this also came to nothing, and meanwhile Oldway continued to decay. Now, for the sake of the building before it becomes too far gone to do anything with, Brent has washed his hands of the whole project, and Oldway is back in Council hands.
Inspectors representing Historic England, recently checked the fabric of the building inside and out, and have reported that the empty building is not deteriorating as badly as many feared. So if the Council can obtain the necessary funds from a variety of sources, including the National Lottery and various heritage funds, there may be some hope that the Congress may be able to return there one day.
Meanwhile, local Grandmaster, Keith Arkell is a nailed-on certainty to win the Premier, so far ahead is he in grading of the other 17 players in that section. We can only admire the seven games he will have played by the last round this afternoon. Here, for example, is his Rd. 1 game which features a very short, sharp finish.
White: Graham Bolt (190). Black: Keith Arkell (241).
King’s Fianchetto Opening
1.g3 d5 2.Bg2 c5 3.d3 Nc6 4.Nc3 d4 5.Ne4 e5 6.c3 Be7 7.Nf3 Nf6 8.Nxf6+ Bxf6 9.0–0 0–0 10.a3 Bf5 11.Nd2 Threatening to double Black’s pawns. 11…Qd7 12.Ne4 With twin threats to c5 and f6. 12…Be7 13.Bd2 a5 14.a4 Be6 15.Qc2 f5 With pieces developed Black now commences a kingside attack. 16.Ng5 Bxg5 17.Bxg5 f4 18.gxf4 exf4 White’s black-square bishop could become trapped after …h7; Bh4 g5. 19.Bh4 g5! Arkell’s favourite move, played whenever possible. 20.Bxg5 The pawn has gone, but lines have been opened down which Black can attack. 20…Qg7 21.Bxc6 bxc6 22.Kh1 f3 23.Rg1 It’s a tussle for control of the g-file and Black seems vulnerable with his queen in front of his king. 23…fxe2 24.c4 If 24.Bh6 Bd5+. 24…Rxf2! 25.Bh4 Bg4 26.Rxg4 Rf1+ Less neat is 26…Qxg4 27.Bxf2 Qf3+ 28.Kg1 Rf8. 27.Rg1 Qxg1# 0–1
In last week’s position White won after 1.RxR+ Kf7 2. NxB+ Kf6 3.PxN=Q mate.
Here is a new 2-move miniature by David Howard.