Search Keverel Chess
Monthly Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Balloon chess match’

45th Torbay Congress – Final Day (20.11.2011.)

The final day of the Torbay Congress is being held at the Riviera Centre, Torquay, overlooking Torbay. The weather is almost Spring-like; temperature outside is 16C+, blue skies and with very little breeze. In fact, the helium balloon, situated just outside the Centre, has been in full operation all day. When was the last time that happened in late November? Usually it is dismantled and packed away for the Winter months, and even in Summer it often spends long periods inactive, as it’s not allowed to “fly” when the wind-speed exceeds c. 5 m.p.h. which at the seaside is fairly often – even in Torbay! I speak with some experience on the subject, having been set the challenge to stage and film a chess match in the gondola during the British Championships when it was last held here. The weather was diabolical for the whole fortnight and the project was only possible when it relented after the prizegiving. 

The balloon goes up as Arkell & Mackle get down to their Rd. 5 game.

In Rd. 3 it transpired that during the game between John Stephens and Jon Wells, Wells made a move and went off. Stephens made a quick reply and also went off for a stroll round. Wells got back to find that the Controller had assumed the game was over, had reset the clocks and was starting to set up the pieces in the starting position. 

In Rd. 4, Exmouth’s Champion, John Stephens, and President, Mark Abbott, were drawn to play father and son combination, Chris (pere) & Adrian Archer-Lock. Father lost and son won. 

Stephens (W) analysing with Archer-Lock Snr.

Arkell demonstrates his Rd. 4 win to opponent Paul Helbig, with Littlejohn, Stephens & Mackle looking on.



Final round gets under way.

The draw for Rd. 5 of the Open was as follows, with Arkell and Mackle being the obvious pairing for Bd. 1 as they were joint leaders. However, much as Arkell may have been the bookies’ favourite at the start, here he had the Black pieces and Mackle played the opening with vigour, and the GM had to call on all his defensive qualities and endgame technique to stay in the game. No question here of a quick draw to guarantee a share of 1st prize; the game went on to be one of the last to finish in the whole room, and drew a growing crowd of interested spectators, intrigued at the finely-balanced endgame position.

  Open Rd. 5              
Bd. White Grd         Black Grd
1 Mackle, D. 197 (3½) ½ ½ (3½) Arkell, K 226
2 Waddington, M. 187 (3) 0 1 (3) Webster, R. 192
3 Archer-Lock, A 179 (3) 0 1 (2½) Carr, N. 190
4 Helbig, P. 185 (2½) 0 1 (2½) Menadue, J. 192
5 Dunn, A 167 (2½) 0 1 (2½) Stephens, J. 173
6 Rosen, D. 186 (2) ½ ½ (2) Abbott, M. 170
7 Brusey, A. W. 174 (2) ½ ½ (2) Gregory, K. 184
8 Wheeler, J. F. 173 (2) ½ ½ (2) Bolt, G. 181
9 Bartlett, S. 162 (2) ½ ½ (2) Dilleigh, S. 180
10 Littlejohns, D. 174 (2) 1 0 (2) Rahimli, N 170
11 Archer-Lock, C. 181 (1½) ½ ½ (2) Regis, D. 175
12 Thompson, R. 178 (1½) 1 0 (1½) Aston, P. 152
13 Homer, S. 179 (1) 1 0 (1) Wells, J. C. 179
14 Coburn, J. 156 (1) ½ ½ (½) Hamilton, E. 147
15 Nyman, J   (½) 1     bye  

Arkell & Mackle almost swallowed up by spectators.

As games came to an end, the identity of prizewinners at all levels became apparent. This is an unofficial and somewhat incomplete list of all winners, subject to ratification.

Torbay    Congress   2011    
Section     Grd.   Pts.  
Open 1st= K. C. Arkell 220 Paignton 4 £130
    D. Mackle 197 N. Abbot 4 £130
    R. Webster 192 W. Bridgford 4 £130
GPs 180-174 A. Archer-Lock 179   3 £15
    D. Littlejohns 174 Taunton 3 £15
  U-174 J. Stephens 173 Exmouth £30
 British QP   D. Mackle         
(U-170) 1st= R. Desmedt  154 Wombwell   4 £90 
    P. Jackson  166 Coulsdon   4  £90
  3rd R. Burton  160 Weymouth  £40
GPs 156-153 R. Greatorex  154 Llangollen  3  £30
  U-153 I. S. Annetts 152  Tiverton  3.5  £30 
Intermediate 1st= N. Dicker  139 Glastonbury  £90
(U-150)   M. Wilson  136 Wigston  £90
  3rd A. Papier  140 Bristol 4  
GPs 139-134 T. Crouch  134 K. Head    
    P. Dimond  135 Bath    
    D. Gilbert        
  133-126 M. Cuggy  133 Brixham  4  
   U-125 T. Slade  122 Barnstaple     
    S. Ross   Shifnal    
     D. Jenkins   Camborne     
Minor 1st A. Tatam   Plymouth £110
(U-120) 2nd= J. Barber-Lafon   N. Abbot 4  £37
    H. Welch   Seaton 4  £37
    A. Fraser   Beckenham  4  £37
GPs U-110 I. Bowman    Liskeard  £30
  U-96 B. Aldwin   Exeter 3 £15
    G. J. Jenkins   Exeter 3 £15

The Torbay Individual Championships are held within the overall congress. Those eligible are players who play, or have ever played matches in the Torbay League. Thus, Ivor Annetts, although a member of an Exeter League Club, was for many years a member of Teignmouth, which qualifies him for one of these titles (see below).

Torbay Individual Champions Winner Club    
   Open Section Dominic Mackle Newton Abbot    
   Major Section Ivor Annetts Tiverton    
   Intermediate Section Mike Cuggy Brixham    
   Minor Section Tony Tatam Plymouth    

The late John Whitfield was a disabled player who played whenever and wherever he could in Devon. His widow donated this relatively new cup for the best performance by a junior, won this year by 10 yr old Theo Slade of Marhamchurch in N. Cornwall. Theo is coached at distance by Dr. Dave Regis who runs the Exeter Juniors C.C. Occasionally, as at this event, they are able to interact face to face.

Theo Slade receives the Whitfield Cup from League President, Trefor Thynne.

Dave Regis analyses Theo Slade's Rd. 5 game.

Ivor Annetts (l) was the best Devon performer in the Major Section, receiving his trophy from Ray Chubb.

Hazel Welch (l) & Jacquie Barber-Lafon were delighted with their 2nd= prize in the Minor.

British Championships 2009 Prizegiving

Saturday, 8th August 2009


So things went as predicted – more or less. On Bd. 1, Gary Lane showed his hand by offering a draw after move 6. Howell declined, perhaps hoping to go out with a further win, but when the position soon became a bit turgid and would have required a lot of time and effort to resolve, he clearly came to the conclusion that the easiest option was probably the best after all. Furthermore, he was due to play in the 1st round of the Staunton Memorial in London the next afternoon, so it made good sense to conserve his energy.
After shaking hands with Lane, he rose from his chair with a broad smile, and there were handshakes and congratulations all round. He had won the title with 9 points, the highest total this century (8.5 points is par) and in that company it was a considerable achievement by any standard. In case he had stumbled at the final hurdle, Simon Williams and Mark Hebden would have been waiting for him, as they overcame Stephen Gordon and Gawain Jones, respectively, so finished joint 2nd on 8.5, frustratng for them as, in most years this would have given them the title or at least a play-off.
In the last game of the round to finish. Andrew Greet just failed to get a very respectable score as he pushed Conquest to the limit. Rudd finished in sparkling form as he equalled his highest score ever, after having been on bottom board-but-2 in Rd. 4.
Palliser’s 8 pts was also an excellent result for him. Last year it would have got him into the play-off.
Last year at Liverpool, in order to prepare for the prizegiving and the rush of trying to take meaningful photographs of the winners with their trophies, I hit on the idea of having a small table set up with a board and pieces next to the steps where the winners come down from the stage, so one can deal with the situation almost in a conveyor belt fashion. This was done the night before to minimise the risk of last minute panics. And to further reduce the risk I put a large printed notice in the middle of the board to the effect “Photographer’s table – do not move”. When I arrived the next morning, everything had been cleared away – no table, no set, no notice – nothing.
Nothing daunted, I prepared in the same way this year, but having learned from Liverpool, I worded the printed notice more pointedly, to the effect “Photographer’s Table – do not move before the prizegiving” in very large, computer-printed letters, and weighted down by a pawn on each corner. It was there at 9 p.m. as I left.
Next morning at 8.30 I couldn’t believe my eyes – no set and board, no table, no notice – nothing. That moment was my low point of the fortnight. Fortunately, the staff were very helpful and another table was found, and there was a spare set and board in the office, it was rectified fairly quickly.
The prizegiving went very smoothly and quickly. Scores of pictures were taken and the camera battery managed to cope – just about. Fortunately, it was decided to do the British players first to enable Howell to get off to London a.s.a.p. so if the battery did run down, it would have not been so serious. And they’ve come out reasonable well. Here is a selection.

David Howell – New British Champion.


Three Wise Men – the joint seniors champions.

And now… a group of Lady Champions:

Meg Owens, of Wales, with the Roy Clunes Trophy.

British Ladies Champion – Jovanka Houska, (as was)

Sheila Dines

Kevin Stavely of the Rhondda, with the Richard Boxall Plate for his contribution above and beyond the call of duty, in running the Sunday Quiz and the Murder Mystery play.

Balloon Match:  Weatherwise, the morning had started the best of the fortnight, so immediately after the prizegiving was over I gathered together Jack Rudd and Andrew Greet, and said we should get down there. I’d give the balloon folk one hour to get off the ground, then I was off.
From that moment on, everything fell into place, as if the weather Gods had had their fun and decided to relent as we’d given them enough amusement to last into the autumn.
We trundled the heavy equipment down to their little office. The balloon was up, having its obligatory test-run, and we could be on the first public ascent of the day.
Down it came, everything was piled in, Andrew and Jack and me with borrowed, hand-held video camera, and in moments we were rising up to 400 feet. With just 7 minutes on the clock, Jack and Andrew rattled out the moves and after what looked like a close contest, Greet won. There was just time for 2nd game mostly played on the way down. A draw was agreed, and so Greet won the match.
This was, of course, a match between deadly rivals, Devon and Cornwall; Greet from St. Austell and Rudd resident in Bideford, have each been their county Champions. So Cornwall won the first aerial chess match bewteen the two counties, just as they did the first terra-firma-based match in 1901.
Two questions remain: (a) Is this History’s first-ever inter-county match in a helium ballon at 400 feet?
(b) Did it actually take place at all, or am I making it up to cover for the fact that the weather was so lousy?
In answer to the latter, the video will be out shortly; post production is, even now, in the hands of IJ Productions, who are adding suitable music and titling.
In answer to the former, I’m going to claim it as a world 1st, but am happy to listen to credible counter-claims.

British Championship – Torquay – Day 1

Monday, 27 July 2009

Up, up and away………

12.00 Balloon Madness: We had this idea that it would be a good wheeze to start the Championships off with a possible World 1st – a chess match in a helium balloon at altitude. Easy to say – more difficult to actually organise. The other easy bit was the presence of a large balloon moored close to the Riviera Centre.

I envisioned it as a Devon vs Cornwall match with Gary Lane lined up to represent Devon and Andrew Greet for Cornwall, both former champions of their native counties. Jack Rudd of Bideford was on standby as 1st reserve and recorder of moves, all three International Masters.

The hard bit was always going to be the vaguaries of the English climate, especially in this poor summer, as, if the wind is any stronger than a gentle breeze, the balloon doesn’t take off. In fact, as it’s close to the sea front, it stays tethered for days at a time. So, as it rained all day yesterday, I had mentally discounted any possibility of the balloon taking off today.

However, at the start of play in the morning (09.30) the sun was shining and the wind was calm. Cause for cautious optimism, even more so when at 11.00 I looked out and saw the blessed thing high in the sky. A quick check with the balloon Manager confirmed that we were on course for the projected 12 noon lift-off. Jack Rudd was in place as replacement for Gary Lane and Andrew Greet was waiting in situ. Local newpaper photographer also at the ready. At noon, the balloon descended and we were invited to carry the table and equipment out to the balloon’s gondola. We picked up the stuff and proceeded to the balloon ready to load it in.

Andrew and Jack prepare for aerial combat – minutes later it was abandoned.

Then the heavens opened, rain pelted down and a minor squall blew up. At that precise moment, the whole thing was called off, as the wretched thing had to be securely moored by numerous guy ropes. No chance of it taking off again today. So, with internal butterflies coming to rest, we all had to troop back to the Centre, loaded with paraphernalia. Don’t you just love it when that sort of thing happens. We’ll try again later in the week. 

18.00 Opening Ceremony: After the morning’s chaos, at least the opening ceremony went off without any hitches at the appointed time of 2 p.m. All officials were in place, on time, and spoke well for the required number of minutes; it proved a pleasant interlude before the onset of hostilities. David Howell received the ECF Player of the Year from the Chairman of the Torbay Council, followed shortly after by the receipt of a cheque for £2,000, being the annual bursary from the John Robinson Memorial Trust, made to the junior showing outstanding promise. David won the first of these awards at Gt.Yarmouth in 2007, while Gawain Jones was the recipient last year. Then Cllr. Hodge made the first move for David Eggleston against defending champion Stuart Conquest, before leaving him to sort out the rest of the game for himself. And then the general bloodletting began.

David Howell’s receives his Player of the Year award.

The first win to be recorded was by Lateefah Messam-Sparks in the Major Open, whose opponent’s mobile phone went off after 11 moves, in spite of all the warnings, verbal and posters all around the building. In fact, in line with modern practice, all mobiles must be switched off not only in the playing hall but in the entire complex. It’s a hard lesson to learn.

Minutes later, White’s mobile phone went off.