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British Championships 2009 2nd Thursday Rd. 10

Thursday, 6 August 2009

2nd Thursday Rd 10

Penultimate Rd;
Late last night Wells beat Eggleston to reach 6.5, but Eggleston’s assured 2nd IM norm was some compensation for him.
Conquest’s win yesterday puts him back on top board with White against Howell, sole leader on 7.5. Will Howell be content to drift to the finish with 2 draws and see what the following pack can do? Williams is clear 2nd on 7/9 with Black against Wells. How will he be seeing the situation? He is on fire and a win would put him level with a drawing Howell. And Hebden having white against lower rated opposition must be fancying his chances, a win would put him on 7.5, although his opponent Rendle will have his own views on the matter. Surely the eventual champion must come from these 6.

Last year’s Girls’ U-12 Champion was Rahda Jain. On the way out of the hall this morning, she told me she’d won again and I ventured to say she was likely to defend her title successfully. “Oh no, not that”, she replied “I’m after the overall title this year”. I was truly put in my place.

Below: Rahda at Liverpool 2008

A Storey of Salvation Through ChessBase:
38 year old Charlie Storey, playing in the British Championship, was brought up in Newcastle-on-Tyne where he had a difficult upbringing. He admits to failed academically at school, leaving with no qualifications. On the other hand, he was excellent at sport, playing centre forward for Blythe Spartans and having trials with Oldham Athletic, though the manager, Joe Royle, didn’t rate him.
He didn’t have much of direction in life in his late teens, but gradually got into chess and joined the Jesmond Chess Club. He then purchased an early version of the computer program ChessBase3 and things really took off. He quickly developed a great love of chess and knowledge of computers. He was very competitive and has won about 60 Open Tournaments over the years.
He also found he had the gift of communicating his chess skills to large numbers of young beginners. He wrote a chess syllabus called Bandana Chess, and has his own website at
As his reputation as a chess coach grew, so did his reputation in computer skills and he was encouraged to enroll at university where, at the age of 37, he recently graduated with a 2:1 in “Informatics Forensics” (i.e. messing around with computers).
He puts all this down to the redemptive powers of chess; it’s taught him to use his brain, to concentrate, persevere and constantly strive for self-improvement. If the basis was chess, the tool was ChessBase, which enables players to harness the twin powers of human and artificial intelligence. He reckons they have been his salvation – without chess he could have been condemned to a life of aimless drifting.
What of the future? Andrew Martin has offered him the post of coach to the ECF U-16 team in the junior Olympiad in Turkey (24th Sept – 2nd Oct.). He’s also had an excellent job offer from the Civil Service which would entail moving south, out of his natural habitat in the North East. So who knows what the future holds for Charlie Storey.
Below: Charlie at the start of Rd. 10 – he loves a good party.

Game of the Day (Rd. 8)

Above: I know I’m getting deaf, but did someone just call out my name?

Below: Yes it’s true, John Littlewood – you’ve just won the Game of the Day prize.

Birthday Party: Mention has already been made of one birthday present offered here at Torquay – today there were more celebrations as one of the juniors celebrated her 17th birthday, joined by a crowd of Britain’s top juniors.

Below: Lateefah Messam-Sparks (centre) surrounded by some of the best juniors here at the British. Much cake was consumed by all. Hats were retained for play during Rd. 10.

British Championship – Torquay – Rd. 7

Monday, 3 August 2009

2nd Monday – Round 7

Review of Rd. 7:
Jones and Howell are joint leaders going into Rd. 7, but they’ve already played each other and can’t repeat that. Howell was drawn against Wells and a time scramble was forecast both in the daily bulletin and on the main website. How right that proved to be. As the first time control approached there was a flurry of moves in front of crowds of onlookers, before they retired toa quite corner of the room to reconstruct the correct sequence of moves, only to discover that Wells had not made the required number of moves and so had lost on time – a vital point for Howell to guarantee him at least a share of 1st place going into Rd. 8.
Jones kept pace with a win over Trent, giving the two winners joint leadership on 6/7. Simon Williams won to become clear 3rd on 5.5. Needing and getting wins to keep in touch with these top 3 were Conquest, Palliser, Eggleston, Gormally, Rendle and Paul Littlewood, all now on 5/7. The leading pack is thus reduced to 8, but it looks like Simon Williams is the one on a hot streak at the moment. Can he keep it up?

Regular visitors No. 2:
Another of the more regular visitors to this event over the years is John Calvert of Bilborough, Nottingham, this being his 28th visit since the 1970s.
He was born in Chandlersford, Hants, but his family moved to Nottingham where they initially lodged with a Polish family who taught the young John to play chess.
He joined the Nottingham Mechanics Institute club in 1969 and has remained with them ever since. He is a Lib Dem candidate for the City Council, thus being a political colleague of Tony Gillam, the man who has almost single-handedly published more chess books than anyone else in the country, if not the entire world.
At the British he usually enters one of the afternoon lower-rated sections, and also visits Hastings most years, and frequents the bookstall at both events.

                                                                                            Below: John Calvert watches John Littlewood in action.


British Championship – Torquay – Day 6

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Day 6

Approaching halfway: Round 6 is the half way stage of the Championship – 5 down and 5 to go next week. By the end of today we should be left with a small group of players who stand a real chance, provided they have what it takes to withstand the pressures as the finishing line approaches.

Round 5 Review: In the top game, Howell won a finely balanced R+P endgame in which both players had passed pawns, but Howell’s rook was the better positioned, being able to both block off the Black King, while keeping an eye on any advancing black pawns.

                                                                                                          Above: Start of the game Howell v Trent.

No. 2 seed, Gawain Jones also won by beating GM Aaron Summerscale, thus staying level with Howell in the joint lead on 4.5/5. Just a half point behind are the following:- Gordon who beat Palliser; Wells who beat Rendle; Gormally who beat Cumbers, and Hebden who beat Story. Familiar names rising to the top, while missing from the group are the defending joint English Champions, Conquest and Arkell, who slipped further behind, drawing against much lower-rated opponents.

Lower down the field, Jack Rudd, the only person to win a title at Liverpool last year, ended his miserable start with a typical short, bright win against Jan Muller. To be fair, Jack’s been unwell this week, and is, in addition, working hard on producing the daily bulletin – he may be over-doing things somewhat. Not something one would ever expect to be said about him – one of chess’s best multi-taskers.

Also in the nether regions, was the encounter between 78 year old John Littlewood and 15 year old Sheila Dines – a case of “Bright Young Thing meets Grand Old Man”, if ever there was one. In the event, John tried several tricks and traps, but Sheila carefully tip-toed through the minefield and emerged the winner. During analysis afterwards in the rest area, John was fulsome in praise for her play, saying it was worthy of consideration for Game of the Day. Andrew Martin did consider it but thought Gawain Jones’s game slightly better.
                                                                                                                   Above: That’s John on the left.

John Littlewood: At 78 John Littlewood is certainly the oldest player in this Championship, if not ever. He was born in Sheffield in May 1931, the 3rd of 11 children. His brother Norman was the 5th child. John graduated in Modern Languages from Sheffield University and then did his National Service before becoming a language teacher in Skegness. He was living there when he first played in the British in York, 1959, exactly 50 years ago. He didn’t win the title that year, (he came 4th= level with Aitken, Barden and Clarke) but had a 2 year old baby at home, Paul, who was to win it at Morecombe in 1981. He eventually went on to have 7 children altogether, all of whom went to university.

The next year John played in the British was in 1962 when he came 3rd behind Penrose and Clarke. In 1963, his younger brother Norman joined him and came 2nd, when a win instead of a draw against Owen Hindle in the last round would have forced a play-off against Penrose. John was just a point behind on 7/11 – 4th again.

The nearest he came to winning was the year he played Frank Parr in the last round needing a win to be sure of the title, but it was not to be.

However, the span of half a century between 1st and latest appearances is almost certainly the greatest in the history of this event. Who could have bettered that? Possible candidates are E. G. Sergeant and A. R. B. Thomas, but more research needs to be done.

Keyboard Chaos: Dave Clayton’s job here is to set up and monitor the system that brings you the live games, a job he’s done extremely well in the past, often in trying circumstances, when the electronic boards get a bit temperamental. This weekend he’s been called back to the North West on family business, and it seems that no sooner had he left the building to catch the train, than the boards and associated laptops decided this was their chance to go haywire. At about 16.15, the website showed the Gormally-Howell game, for example, as having been drawn after 70 (repeat seventy) moves, 40 of which were played with just a solitary bishop each and a small scattering of pawns. In reality only 13 moves had been played. In the control room, laptops were overheating and having to be raised up off the table surface to allow cooling air to flow more easily around them. I left the backroom with two knowledgeable arbiters gradually wresting back control of the technology.