Posts Tagged ‘100th British Chess Championships’
With all play finishing by the Friday evening, the prizegiving ceremony took place promptly at 09.30 the next morning.
The Chairman of the Torbay Coucil, Cllr. Julien Parrott, and the Lib. Dem. MP for Torbay, Adrian Saunders, were in the platform party and both had encouraging words for the assembled audience, and after a few words from the ECF President, Roger Edwards, they handed out the many trophies beautifully arrayed on the front table.
As is traditional, the final words came from the newly-crowned British Champion, David Howell, who had secured the prize with a round to spare. The 22 year-old’s relaxed and modest demeanour throughout the fortnight and making this closing speech, a nerve-wracking prospect for most, was all the more remarkable for the full circumstances. His father, who had taught him the game since the age of 5 and worked hard to get him to many events both at home and abroad, died three months ago. and David, who is reading philosophy and English at Cardiff University, was allowed to defer his 2nd Year exams until the middle of August. This meant that while others were preparing like mad for their next opponent, David was having to prepare like mad for his exams, finishing assignments and revising. However, he did not let this side-track him, as he was determined to win for his father’s sake. The remarkable victory was dedicated to him.
If the main trophies seen here look especially sparkling, that’s because they are. Over recent years they have looked increasingly fragile and time-worn, but they have had a fundamental make-over; polishing, fixing bits from dropping off etc., with the result that’s all too plain to see.
The top end of the Championship Rd. 11 draw looks like this.
The afternoon started with the presentation of the Rd. 10 Game of the Day to GM Glenn Flear.
There was bound to be an element of anti-climax at the start of the round, knowing that the big prize had already been decided, but this didn’t prevent a large crowd of spectators and photographers gathering around the top board. In fact, if Jones had been able to spring a surprise, it would undoubtedly have take a little of the shine off Howell’s prize, so there was no sign that he was in danger of resting on his laurels. The others, too, were fighting amongst themselves for a place on the prizelist. In spite of the fact there were draws a-plenty, they were mostly hard-fought – only Lalic and Arkell settled for a quick draw.
The fact is that Howell likes Torquay. He won there in 2009, and nowhere else. When I first did the publicity job, at Torquay in 1997, I was asked by the local TV company to obtain the oldest player in the building to act out a short encounter with the youngest. I located an old gent, while a colleague, Victor Cross, brought along a 5 year old boy, who quickly outplayed his vastly senior opponent while the camera rolled. The boy was called David – David Howell.
Here are some pleased-looking winners at their presentation last week.
Start of Rd. 10:
These games ended with the following results:-
All this means that David Howell has won the British Championship with a round to spare. In the final round the two top seeds meetat last, but it is too late for Jones to do anything about it. On the other hand, there should be quite a struggle among the other 7-pointers for a share of the prizemoney.
The Essex ckub, Wanstead & Woodford, have extra reasons to be in a commemorative mood, for not only is it the 100th British Championship, but it is also their Club’s 70th anniversary and several of their members played in the Essex U-160 team.
To this end they had special T-shirts printed and are wearing them around the Centre. Here they are – front and back
Blitz Pairs Championship:
Last evening the special event to be held was a blitz pairs competition. 15 teams of 2 entered, the team members alternating the move but not consulting, and having 15 minutes for all moves.
Both pictures courtesy of Chris Kreuzer of the Richmond Reivers team
Ladies Seniors’ Championship Cup:
Just a few minutes ago, (6.00 p.m.) it was agreed that an offer to create a new category and to donate a trophy for it, should be accepted. This will be for a Ladies’ Seniors’ Championship, and a trophy will be donated by the Gibraltar Tourist Office, and will be known as the Gibraltar Cup. Mrs. Whatley will expedite matters with such speed that the cup will be available, fully engraved, for presentation on Saturday morning. The Federation is grateful to her and the GTO for their generosity.
It all started at the Grand Dinner on Saturday evening, when Mrs Whatley and her immediate neighbour at the table, former British Ladies Champion, Dinah Norman, were talking about the number of trophies available to all the junior girls, and the lack of them for older ladies. She was shocked when Dinah told her there was no prize at all for the best perfomance by a lady player in the Seniors’ Championship. Next morning she got straight on the phone to a Gibraltarian Government Minister and asked whether they could donate a special cup. As they were already sponsoring her son, Stephen Whatley, to play throughout the whole fortnight, the cost of a cup would be no problem. And so, within a matter of hours, the whole thing was agreed.
This move can only serve to increase further the interest in Seniors chess, which is already apparent in the form of two new sections for seniors and the total entry of 108.
Start of Rd. 9
At the 2.30 start time, there was not a single player present at the top 5 boards, and it took 15 minutes ’till the last one arrived. Under FIDE rules they would have been defaulted, but we tend to take a more relaxed view on these things.
By the end of the round, David Howell had pulled even further ahead of the field, after his opponent, Gormally, walked into a mate, while the other 6-pointers all drew. The top boards finished as follows:-
Old entry records smashed!
Now well into the 2nd week and there will not be many last minute entries coming in, so it’s a good moment to take stock of the overall response to this 100th Championship.
This is the 4th time since 1997 that Torquay’s Riviera Centre has been the venue, and in the past this has almost guaranteed a total entry of about 1,000, although the record is held by Edinburgh 2003 at 1,009 entries. Last year there were 854 at N.Shields and in 2011 there were 951 at Sheffield. However, these numbers pale before this year’s total of 1,200 – a new record that will surely stand for decades to come.
Looking at the Seniors’ entries alone, their total of 108 for the 3 sections is as high as the total entry for some of the early years – pre-WW1
It has always been the rule that there can only be one name on the Championship trophy. In recent years, where this has been necessary, it has been held immediately after the prizegiving is over. Throughout the final round, organisers offer up silent prayers that there will not be any play-off to hold up their getaway, but if there has to be one, please let it be only between two players, as three or four would take up most of the day.
Right from the start, the tie between Napier and Atkins was settled by a 4 game play-off …. the following year! The only exception to the one-winner rule was at Nottingham 1954 when Barden and Alan Phillips could not be separated after 10 play-off games, so it was left at 5-5 and they shared the title.
This year, however, for the first time, there is no provision for a play-off, raising the possibility of there being 2 or 3 champions. How will this affect the top players’ inclination to offer or accept a draw in the last round when it could guarantee at least a share in the title, as opposed to a place in a play-off? Time will tell.
Rd. 8 starts:
The afternoon session started with a total of 346 players sat at their boards.
At the end of the day, there was evidence of great commitment to the cause with only a single draw among all those with 5 points or more. This is how they finished:
The round started with Howell in a clear lead, a half point ahead of Hebden and Gordon followed by 9 on 4.5. By this stage, the cream has risen to the top with 9 of the top 10 players having GM titles or norms and most of the chasing pack have titles. Outstanding in this respect is the exception, local player and current Devon Champion (his only title), Dominic Mackle, riding high among the GMs with a score of 4.5.
It was a Black Day indeed for the top boards – not a White win to be seen anywhere. Howell maintained his half point lead, but Williams, Ghasi and Arkell hauled themselves into 2nd = on 5.5. Defending champion, Gawain Jones, made progress with a win over Chapman to reach 5 pts.
Nette Robinson – Chess Artist:
Nette (short for Annette) Robinson, is an artist who is putting on an exhibition of her chess-based work at the venue.
Originally from Essex, she graduated from Chichester University in Art & Music before taking a post-graduate diploma in jazz from Chichester College. She is a saxophonist and vocalist, having fronted several British jazz groups, most notably Michael Garrick’s Lyric Ensemble.
Given her two skills, she started a series of paintings of jazz legends, but a couple of years ago, she experienced a damascene moment when, from nowhere, she felt the urge to get involved in chess – to learn the moves and history of the game, and naturally enough, to portray this in paint.
She has joined in with this commemorations, and produced a picture based on the deciding move in the deciding game in the 1st Championship between Napier and Atkins. (see below). Other picires are monochrome portraits of key figures in chess; Fischer, Alekhine, Capablanca et. al but the most colourful ones represent positions in key games. These are reminiscent of the later works of Mondrian, Van Doesburg and the de Stijl Group, which is very much where she’s coming from. See what you think.
The Rd. 6 draw for the top 5 games on the demonstration boards was as follows:-
Peter Wells joins the top table after his win against Kosten, as does Dominic Mackle after his win over Gary Lane. The other newcomer was Keith Arkell.
Of these 5 games, Howell kicked on with a win to put himself in a clear lead on 5.5. The Hebden v. Gordon draw put them 2nd=, while there is a whole phalanx of 9 players on 4.5, as some fell back with draws allowing winners like Arkell, Ghasi and Kosten to make up ground with wins. Though undefeated, defending champion Gawain Jones has conceded 4 draws, and needs a good 2nd week to get back in contention.
Senior chess activity is becoming so popular that new grade-limited sections have been introduced to cater for the number involved. So as well as the 65 players in the main section, there are 24 in the U-130 Seniors section and 19 in the U-150. Do the maths and that’s 108 entries in total . This latter tournament was held during the 1st week, allowing these stronger players to enter the Open section as well if they so wished, while the U-130s are held concurrent with the main section.
The U-150 was won by local player, John Gorodi, who has a grade of 159. How so? Well, that’s his new grade, whereas his grade when entering was 141. In circumstances like this it would be very hard, for example, to deny a player whose grade had just gone up from 129 to 131 a place in the U-130, after he/she had taken a special week off work and booked his hotel room for Week 2. Anyone who thinks Gorodi was, perhaps a little lucky in this respect, should bear in mind the fact that he suffered a nasty car crash on his way home on the Wednesday evening and was barely strong enough to travel in to play for the last 2 rounds, and could barely walk up to collect his trophy. (see below).
The afternoon started with the announcement of Andrew Martin’s Rd. 4 Game of the Day, which went to Tony Kosten for his win over Danny Gormally, one of his less difficult decisions.
Unlike yesterday, when the outcomes of the top 5 games had a bit of everything, today’s results had a certain unformity – i.e. four White wins.
The Gordon – Howell game was a risk-averse affair, as one might have expected, as it keeps them in joint 1st place, but they are now joined by Hebden and Wells on 4.5/5. It’s always the case that a player’s fortunes can swing wildly at this stage in the tournament – towards the end of the first week. It seems but a few hours ago that Gormally was joint leader with a 100% score; now, after consecutive losses he’s little higher than 50%. Defending Champion, Gawain Jones, started brightly with a Game of the Day win, but after 3 draws, he was playing almost unnoticed amongst the crowd (Bd. 11) – riding in the peleton, to use a Tour de France analogy, but nothing a couple of wins won’t put right.
The Gambit – a one-act play:
Stewart Reuben has arranged for 6 performances of a chess-based play to be performed on the Friday and Saturday.
The play’s origins can be found when, at a creative writing workshop, the author, Mark Reid, was tasked with finding a story in the newspapers and using that as a basis for a script. He chanced on an article on the relationship between the two former world chess champions, Anatoly Karpov and his successor, Garry Kasparov. Karpov was a protégé of the Soviet Communist system in contrast to the more free-thinking, outspoken, Western-influenced Garry Kasparov. This relationship was fractured after their world championship match in which Karpov had a big lead which was gradually being whittled away as he apparently weakened under the pressure of the younger Kasparov’s late charge. Suddenly, with Karpov on the verge of being overtaken, the match was stopped on the grounds of Karpov’s physical and mental exhaustion. Kasparov suspected political interference behind the scenes, the authorities not wishing their man to be overthrown by someone they regarded as a “loose cannon”.
At the time, the author was also experiencing a broken friendship, so could empathise with their situation, and the idea for the play was thus germinated.
The play starts 25 years after their feud with Kasparov, played by Nick Pearce, visiting his old adversary (played by Ben Rigby) in his flat. Their 50 minute dialogue explores the breakdown in the relationship between them, but asks the question as to which direction Russia should go as the old Soviet system breaks down. As we know, Kasparov today is very active in Russian politics, tending towards the anti-establishment.
The set is minimal – just two chairs, a table, chess board and set. As they talk, they play the moves of what is clearly the last game of their 1985 match.
Having the kind of brain he possesses, Stewart Reuben was not simply content to arrange for 5 performances in the Riviera, but though it a good idea to have the play performed on
This gang of ne’er-do-wells was discovered lurking near the entrance to the venue shortly before the start of Rd. 4.
Answer/s to the above question are:-
(a) They are all playing in the 100th British Championship.
(b) They are all currently resident in Devon.
l-r: Alan Brusey (Newton Abbot); Robert Thompson (Kingskerswell); John Stephens (Exmouth); IM Gary Lane (Paignton / Sydney); GM Keith Arkell (Paignton); IM Jack Rudd (Bideford) & Steve Homer (Powderham).
Missing is Dominic Mackle (Newton Abbot), making a total of 8 - surely some kind of record.
Before play started, there were prizes to be presented to the winners of the problem-solving competition the evening before. This comprised of 6 positions with 5 points available for each, the proceedings overseen by GM Christopher Jones. Prizewinner were announced by Lara Barnes and cheques handed over by Alex McFarlane.
Four solvers got the maximum 30 points, and the tie-break was the speed of correct solving.
4th in 60 minutes Peter Horlock. (£10)
3rd in 38 minutes John Lawrence of Paignton (£15)
2nd in 36 minutes Ali Jaunooby (£20)
1st in 34 minutes Giles Body of Lympstone Nr. Exmouth (£30)
|1||Howell||1||0||Zhou||73||Winning move an example of the power of the check.|
|2||Gordon||1||0||Fernandez||49||Finely-balanced endgame with 2 pawns each, symmetrically arranged.|
|3||Gormally||0||1||Kosten||21||A short sharp win for Black.|
|4||Palliser||0||1||Hebden||40||Black’s central 4 pawn mass decided the outcome.|
|5||Chapman||½||½||Hawkins||22||White’s excellent start to the campaign continues.|
These top 5 games finished like this, with a bit of everything in the mix – 2 Black wins; 2 White wins; 2 miniatures; 2 finely-balanced endgames and a short draw. Howell, Gordon and Hebden are intent on setting a hot pace, while Chapman is also having an excellent start to the week.
The Palliser-Hebden game started at a great lick, but at the end White’s 3 remaining pieces were all on the edge of the board, unable to cope with a phalanx of 4 central pawns all shuffling forward with menacing intent.
As can be seen in the above photograph, Fernandez seems to spend a lot of time throughout the game, calmly gazing into the middle distance when it’s his move.
What’s the problem?
Another of Stewart Reuben’s bright ideas for this 100th event is to have a problem-solving competition. He has collected a set of 10 and Trefor Thynne, President of the Torbay Chess League, has arranged to have them displayed in the windows of various shops, cafes, restaurants etc. around the town.
They are not problems in the manner of Comins Mansfield, that Devonian “Genius of the 2-mover”, who could challenge, tittilate and hope to defeat the world’s best solvers with his devilish constructions. These positions are meant to be accessible even to relative beginners, more likely to give pleasure at finding the correct move order, than frustration at an inability to do so.
To give an idea, here are 2 of the 10 to give you a taster.
Who’s on-line in the mornings?
As the number of electronic boards goes up each year, the question arises of how to get the best use out of them. In recent years, they’ve generally hosted some of the junior sections, but this year, as an experiment, some of the other sections are getting their moment in the spotlight. Yesterday, for example, it was the turn of the U-140 Championship, with the result that, round about noon, Dave Gilbert, one of that number and an organiser of the 9 Man Simul , rushed into the Office, beaming widely, saying what a brilliant move it was, as within minutes he’d already had 2 congratulatory e-mails from friends and family who were following his victory live.
Dave Clayton, the man in charge of the boards, tells me this week is an experiment to see how it goes. If successful, next week he may be able to predict which sections are featured live on the event website. However, the needs of the main Championship must always come first, and may affect what is possible in the mornings.
Round 3 Starts:
While some chessplayers were whizzing round in the Big Wheel, back at the ranch the afternoon events were getting under way. First of all, the previous day’s Best Game prize.