Chess players from all quarters started to assemble at the Livermore House Hotel on Sunday 13th September for the next in the long series of Paignton Congresses. On bumping into the resident GM, Keith Arkell, I opened by commiserating him on his anti-climactic finish to the British Championship, in which he lost to Jonathan Hawkins, who then became British Champion, while Keith slipped to 11th= and out of the prizelist. Bad luck, and Caissa can be a cruel mistress, was my opening gambit, but not a bit of it. He pointed out that he had just returned from the titanic Vienna Open, held in the magnificent Vienna Rathaus, – 461 competitors from all over the world - where he came 1st with a career-best rating of 2700+, beating 4 other GMs in the process. While Keith came 1 st in Vienna, Jonathan Hawkins (they are team-mates, friends and had travelled together) came 11th – positions perfectly reversed from their previous event. The phrase “Swings & Roundabouts” springs to mind.
He was undoubtedly on a high and had already put Warwick well behind him. It must be said that the Vienna event has been somewhat under-reported in the British press, as I was far from being the only one who had missed this.
At 1.45, players were called to take their seats after which DCCA President, Paul Brooks, made an excellent welcoming speech, while reviewing some of the highlights of the event over the years. Congress Secretary, Alan Crickmore then added his own remarks, and lay commenced at 2 p.m. precisely.
Here are a few shots of the opening day.