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British Championship – Torquay – Day 4

Recuperation: After being winched off the deck of a ship in mid-channel, 3 weeks in hospitals in 2 countries, 6 ambulance rides, and various tests and procedures, Stewart Reuben wishes it to be known that he is now convalescing at home and recuperating well, following events here in Torquay via the website and blog. He could afford to chortle at the description of yesterday’s false fire alarm, while knowing that had he been here in charge, as planned, he would have been as mad as a rat.
Review of Rd. 3: Only 2 players maintained their 100% record – David Howell and Gawain Jones. Naturally these top two seeds meet in today’s Round 4. What are the odds on a draw, conserving energy for dealing with lesser mortals in future rounds. However, there will be no easy games for anyone hoping to be in the prize list a week on Saturday, what with 27 titled players all keen to snatch the crown that Stuart Conquest currently holds, and he’s in no hurry to give it up any time soon. Andrew Martin selected Thomas Rendle’s game as the best of the day. Check it out in the games section.
                                                                Rendle receives his Best Game cheque from Andrew Martin before the start of Rd. 4

He then sat down to face his next opponent, chess writer and former Bristolian, David Le Moir. Gary Lane looks on

Civic Reception: On Tuesday evening Torbay Council put on a civic reception in the Rosetor Room, providing an opportunity for the Chairman of the Council, Cllr Hodge, to meet some of the officials, players and supporters in a more informal setting than was possible at the official opening on Monday. It’s also a chance to impress on the Council how much the ECF appreciate the superb facilities the Riviera Centre affords, in the hope we get invited back soon. Folk gathered in small groups around the room, sipping the free wine and chatting.

I found myself with Trefor Thynne, the President of the Torbay Chess League, Andrew Martin, King of the Commentary Room, and Chris Archer-Lock, formerly of Plymouth College.
Trefor is the teacher of Russian and chess master at Torquay Boys’ Grammar School just up the road, and has a Russian wife. At one point, the Russian Alexander Cherniaev, who’s playing in two sections here, came up and pressed a book into Andrew’s hands, saying it was a gift, and then went off to another group. It was a book he had written on the games of the great American player Pillsbury, whom he admired. Although neither Trefor nor I had ever met Alexander before, Trefor was interested that he might get a chance later to practice his conversational Russian, while I was more interested in the book, as I’ve got most books on Pillsbury, but not seen this one before. (“Harry Nelson Pillsbury – A genius ahead of his time“).

When he came back into the room, I approached the Russian, asking him if he had another copy of his book. He had, but I’d have to pay for it. I agreed. Then he asked if I’d like it signed. Again, I agreed, thinking he would just scribble his name on the fly leaf, as most folk would do. But no – he insisted on writing deliberately and slowly “To my dear friend Bob”, etc. and finishing with the date – not just “2009″ but the exact date; day, month and year.

Although now nearing retirement, Trefor’s chess career took off early when he qualified for the British at Oxford in 1967 at the age of 17, common enough these days, but fairly unusual then. The schoolboy was rewarded for his success by being drawn against first Golombek, then Hartston (who’d also lost in Rd. 1) and Basman, all in the first 4 rounds. Something of a baptism of fire.

Trefor Thynne playing in the 4th round of the U-175 Championship.

Local Reporting: Mike Baker, a reporter from the local Torbay paper, the Herald Express, has spent two days here, getting an angle for his weekly full page feature called “Secret Society“, in which he tries to cast light on various facets of life in the area; clubs, societies and other groupings that operate in the Bay. His article appears every Wednesday, and this week it was about the activities of the Torquay Sub-Aqua Club. Next week it will cover this event, so watch out for it. Mike tells me he has put a link in from the paper’s website to ours.

The column started about a year ago when the Secretary of the Torbay Scottish Society sent the Editor a letter complaining that there was not nearly enough coverage of Scottish affairs, and the germ of an idea was sown. Mike used to work on the Guardian where he was a colleague of Leonard Barden.