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British Championships 2009 2nd Wednesday Rd. 9.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

2nd Wednesday Rd. 9

A Near Thing:
Players from all quarters of the UK plus a few from Gibraltar, Russia, Australia et. al. have come to Torquay to play in one or other of the 22 sections of the British Chess Championships. Yet few can have had a shorter journey than 9 year old Nandaja Narayanan who lives just round the corner from the Riviera Centre. This was her first serious tournament, and she was not disappointed as she won the Girls’ U-9 title.
She attends Sherwell Valley Primary School in Torquay and attends the local junior chess club at Churston Ferrers, run by retired teacher Vic Cross, the same Vic Cross who has run the back office at the British for many years.
Nandaja first learnt the moves from her father , a consultant gynaecologist at Torbay Hospital. When asked how good a player he was he said “I can push the boat out but can’t navigate”. She then started to take the game more seriously, eventually getting private coaching from Victor.
All her opponents were boys on the way to the title, and beating them gave her greater confidence. She now feels encouraged to go on to further successes in the future. At the moment, her 3 year old sister, Niranjana, takes an interest and may well take up the game herself, so Nandaja may have an added incentive to keep ahead of her, or she might get overtaken.

Above: Nandaja with her trophy and coach Victor Cross outside my office.

Rd. 9: We are really approaching the sharp end of things now. In the short term, 9 round norms are obtainable. David Eggleston only had to turn up and play a solitary move in order to qualify for his 2nd IM norm, as he already had the points in the bag after 8 games, but a 9th game, however short, does have to be played. Not content with this, however, his game against Wells went on much longer than the others on the top tables. Meanwhile, Williams’ good run continued with a win against Gawain Jones, to put him in clear 2nd behind David Howell who overcame Palliser on Bd. 1. Stuart Conquest too kept in the mix with a win over former British Champion, Paul Littlewood. Hebden beat Gormally to join Conquest on 6.5, but other key games are going on into the gathering gloom.

Lower down the order, Arkell’s indifferent form meant another loss today and at this rate he will struggle to be in the prize list at all. On the other hand, Jack Rudd, who had a desperately bad first week, has hit the winning trail; another win today put him on 5.5. So from the murky depths of Bd. 34 out of 36 in Round 4, he has now scored 4.5 pts from the next 5 rounds. This is looking dangerously like consistency, which is not like Jack at all. What’s happening to him?

Old Fashioned Generosity: The draw in the Seniors paired club-mates Brian Gosling and David Toms (see earlier picture), who both play for Sidmouth in local leagues and Exmouth in the county leagues. It also happened to be David’s birthday, so Brian gave him the best present of all – the gift of a piece during the game and the full point. Isn’t that what friends are for?

Herald Express: The local daily paper here in Torbay is the Herald Express, which covers event from Dawlish down to Dartmouth. Through the efforts of the Torbay League Secretary, John Doidge, who ordinarily writes a monthly chess column for them, they have agreed to almost daily coverage which he provides. Today, however, they have excelled themselves with the promised full page article by former Guardian columnist, Mike Baker, who was here last week. Access the article on their website, and find about the activities of Cable Guy (and others).

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.