Posts Tagged ‘Oldway Mansion’
The Paignton Congress has always been held on the first week of September, after the kids have gone back to school and by allowing the magnificent Oldway Mansion to host a chess congress free of charge, originally, the local Council could feel they were stretching the holiday season a bit. As the years went by budgets tightened and local councils everywhere found themselves unable to offer such largesse and hire charges were introduced.
Eventually, the cash-strapped Torbay Council felt obliged to give up Oldway and its surroundings, the Fernham Estate and eight years ago sold it to a developer, who promised wonderful things including that the Congress would/might be able to return to Oldway after it had been converted into a de luxe hotel. Yet nothing happened. For six years the place was effectively mothballed and the puzzlement of chessplayers and local citizens gradually grew to anger as the building continued to decay.
Behind the scenes, the developer realised that the gardens surrounding Oldway were Grade 1 listed, even higher than the Mansion itself, and his Plan A, to move in the bulldozers and build houses, the proceeds of which would pay for the hotel, proved unworkable. The developer and the Council locked horns, suing each other in court, until just before this year’s Congress when the news broke that the developer had dropped the case and handed the estate back to the Council, “for the good of the building”.
There was some talk among players that this might mean a possible return to Oldway, or whether they preferred the Livermead anyway, with all that it had to offer; on the seafront with splendid views over Torbay, in-house accommodation, easier parking, an outdoor swimming pool, quiet carpeted playing room, next to the station etc. So who needs Oldway? That story is on-going.
Meanwhile, local resident, GM Keith Arkell, was odds-on to win the Premier, as he was 316 ratings points above his nearest rivals, Stephen Peters and Stewart Ashley. Even so, the others still had £650 prize-money to play for. Keith’s record over the years at Paignton is impressive; 22 1st or 1st=s and 2 second places in 24 years. Yet another 7/7 result, to add to his fine nationwide run seemed a near certainty.
Except that not everything went his way. Colin Rose, the hotel’s maintenance man, regularly passed through the analysis room and book stall, carrying a pot of paint and a brush on his way to a job he was doing out the back. He freely admitted he knew nothing about chess – “couldn’t even set the board up, mate”, but still enjoyed a bit of good-natured banter on his way past each time. Before the start of Rd. 4 he chirped up “How’s the big guy doing, then?” (i.e. Keith). “Pretty well”, I replied, “He’s a locked on certainty to win” “Not today, I don’t think. I’ve got him down for a draw – or maybe even a loss. That’s my prediction anyway” he quipped and on he went.
Sure enough, Keith was down to play Stephen Peters, for whom this was his first return to tournament chess after a lengthy absence. Game drawn. “I was never in it at any point” said Keith afterwards. “Never had any advantage”. Little did he know how the odds of a win were stacked against him from the outset. After that it was plain sailing, but he still had to settle for 6½/7.
Not all attention was focussed on the GM, of course, as prize money totalling £3,600 was spread among 42 players.
The full prizelist was as follows:
|66th Paignton Congress 2016|
|4th – 10th September Livermead House Hotel, Torquay|
|GP U-2026||Steve Dilleigh||1984||Horfield||3½||10|
|Jonathan Wells||1997||N. Norfolk||3½||10|
|Slow start (0/2)||Daniel Gibbs||1808||Brentwood||2½||20|
|A. Stewart took the British Championship 2017 QP|
|3rd=||K. Hurst||174||E. Budleigh||5||34|
|GP U-158||Y. Tello||156||Wimbledon||4½||30|
|GP U-143||G. Naldrett||135||Gerards Cross||4½||30|
|Slow start||J. Robertson||134||E. Kilbride||3||20|
|G. Shepherd||131||Church Stretton||5||75|
|GP U-126||R. Burroughs||103||Malvern||4||7.50|
|GP U-101||M. Cox||89||Southampton||3||12.50|
|P. Broderick||97||Newport (Salop)||3||12.50|
|Boniface 5 Rd. A.M. (U-180)||/5|
|1st||B. G. Gosling||159||E. Budleigh||4||300|
|2nd=||J. E. Hickman||162||Reading||3½||150|
|GP U-159||N. Mahoney||147||Barmby Dun||3||25|
|Thynne 5 Rd. A.M. (U-135)|
|1st||N. G. Andrews||124||York||4||300|
|M. A. Roberts||131||Holmes Chapel||3½||75|
|GP U-125||M. Cuggy||121||Brixham||3||25|
|Slow start||C. Doidge||124||Teignmouth||2½||20|
The Paignton Congress started on Sunday with another slight drop in entries, and some talk among players and organisers about the possible reasons for this, including comparisons between the relative virtues of its original venue of 62 years, Oldway Mansion, and its current one at the Livermead House Hotel. The latter is an excellent venue, but there seems to be an unconscious yearning for a return to its roots.
As is well-known, Oldway was acquired by James Brent’s Akkeron Group, with promises of turning the main building into a luxury hotel and hopes that the congress might be able to return there. But nothing was done as Brent and the Torbay Council locked horns over the best way to proceed. In January Akkeron sued the Council for £8 million in damages, but this also came to nothing, and meanwhile Oldway continued to decay. Now, for the sake of the building before it becomes too far gone to do anything with, Brent has washed his hands of the whole project, and Oldway is back in Council hands.
Inspectors representing Historic England, recently checked the fabric of the building inside and out, and have reported that the empty building is not deteriorating as badly as many feared. So if the Council can obtain the necessary funds from a variety of sources, including the National Lottery and various heritage funds, there may be some hope that the Congress may be able to return there one day.
Meanwhile, local Grandmaster, Keith Arkell is a nailed-on certainty to win the Premier, so far ahead is he in grading of the other 17 players in that section. We can only admire the seven games he will have played by the last round this afternoon. Here, for example, is his Rd. 1 game which features a very short, sharp finish.
White: Graham Bolt (190). Black: Keith Arkell (241).
King’s Fianchetto Opening
1.g3 d5 2.Bg2 c5 3.d3 Nc6 4.Nc3 d4 5.Ne4 e5 6.c3 Be7 7.Nf3 Nf6 8.Nxf6+ Bxf6 9.0–0 0–0 10.a3 Bf5 11.Nd2 Threatening to double Black’s pawns. 11…Qd7 12.Ne4 With twin threats to c5 and f6. 12…Be7 13.Bd2 a5 14.a4 Be6 15.Qc2 f5 With pieces developed Black now commences a kingside attack. 16.Ng5 Bxg5 17.Bxg5 f4 18.gxf4 exf4 White’s black-square bishop could become trapped after …h7; Bh4 g5. 19.Bh4 g5! Arkell’s favourite move, played whenever possible. 20.Bxg5 The pawn has gone, but lines have been opened down which Black can attack. 20…Qg7 21.Bxc6 bxc6 22.Kh1 f3 23.Rg1 It’s a tussle for control of the g-file and Black seems vulnerable with his queen in front of his king. 23…fxe2 24.c4 If 24.Bh6 Bd5+. 24…Rxf2! 25.Bh4 Bg4 26.Rxg4 Rf1+ Less neat is 26…Qxg4 27.Bxf2 Qf3+ 28.Kg1 Rf8. 27.Rg1 Qxg1# 0–1
In last week’s position White won after 1.RxR+ Kf7 2. NxB+ Kf6 3.PxN=Q mate.
Here is a new 2-move miniature by David Howard.
The 66th Paignton Congress starts a fortnight tomorrow. Of course, for 62 years this was held at Oldway Mansion, one-time home of the Singer family of sewing machine fame. The respected writer and player, Harry Golombek, reporting on the event in the 1960s, wrote “Devon is indeed lucky in its choice for its annual congress …. a delectable spot to pursue the joys of a hard week’s chess, interspersed with the even greater and surer delights of walks and wanderings in the beautiful sunlit gardens that surround Oldway”.
And so it continued for decades until the estate was sold to property developers, who promised great things in honeyed words that have since proved empty, as the house has been mothballed ever since and continues to deteriorate. Hence the move to the Livermead House Hotel, which may lack the Grade 1 listed gardens and grandiose atrium, but compensates with a swimming pool, an excellent restaurant and easier parking.
Here’s a game from those good old days (1968) between two Birmingham boys who eventually retired to Paignton.
Notes by the winner.
White: Peter C. Griffiths. Black: Jon E. Lawrence,
Caro-Kann Defence [B10]
1.e4 c6 2.c4 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4.cxd5 Nf6 Black’s plan is to play on the weakness of White’s isolated pawn on d2. In these types of position exchanges tend to favour Black and further weaken the isolated pawn. 5.Bb5+ Bd7 6.Bc4 Qc7 7.Bb3 Not 7.Qe2?? as 7…b5 would be terminal. 7…Nxd5 Black has already equalised. 8.d4 Should White have accepted the proffered gift with 8.Bxd5 there would follow 8…Qe5+ 9.Qe2 Qxd5 10.Nf3. 8…Bc6 The struggle for White’s d-pawn begins. 9.Nf3 Nd7 10.0–0 e6 11.Re1 Be7 12.Nc3 N7f6 13.Bg5 0–0 14.Ne5 Nxc3 15.bxc3 Nd5 16.Bxe7 Nxe7 17.Qg4 If 17.Nxf7 Rxf7 18.Bxe6 Bd5 19.Bxf7+ Bxf7 and Black has control of all the key white squares. 17…Nd5 18.Rac1 Rad8? Probably a slight inaccuracy. More dynamic would be 18…Rfd8 as the other rook would be better used on c8 or b8. 19.Qh4 Qe7 20.Qe4 Qf6 threatening Nxc3. 21.Bc2 g6 22.Nxc6 bxc6 23.Ba4 Better would be 23.Bb3. 23…Nxc3 24.Qxc6 Nxa4 25.Qxa4 Qxd4 assuming control of the d-file. 26.Qa6 Rd6 27.Qb7 Rd7 28.Qa6 Rd6 29.Qb7 Rd7 30.Qa6 Rfd8 Black now has complete control of the centre and d-file. 31.g3 Qd3 32.Qa4 Qd4. Black is now looking to the time control at move 40. 33.Rc4 Qb6 threatening Rd2. 34.Rc6 Rd4 35.Qc2 Qa5 36.Qb1 Rd2 37.a4 Desperation. 37…Qxa4 38.Qe4 Qxe4 39.Rxe4 R8d4 0-1. White is 2 pawns down with no compensation, so resigned. After 40.Rxd4 Rxd4 Black has reached the safety net of the time control and can rely on considered technique to nurse home the passed pawn.
In last week’s position, White can just plough ahead with a series of sacrificial captures, viz. 1.QxR+ BxQ 2.RxB+ QxR 3.RxQ mate, as Black’s remaining bishop blocks its king’s escape.
Here is a 2-mover by the evergreen Sam Loyd (1841-1911).
It is fair to say that Paignton Congress regulars, and others, have viewed the on-going saga of the development of Oldway Mansion with a mixture of concern, trepidation and a certain amount of scepticism.
The latest news appeared recently in the local paper and gives the current position.
“THE final deal has been signed for the £12million Oldway Mansion development.
IT’S A DEAL: Torbay Mayor Gordon Oliver and James Brent shake hands to mark signing of agreement to develop Oldway.
Under an original 2010 deal, Torbay Council was expected to receive £1millon premium plus a percentage of profits from the sale of houses being built in the grounds of the mansion.
Under the deal now agreed, the council will pay developers Akkeron Regeneration £400,000 towards a new indoor bowls club building, an enhanced marriage ceremony room and the restoration of the gardens.
The council says this is in recognition of the changes since the original conditional contract was signed in August 2010.
The housing numbers were scaled down to meet opponents’ requests. As part of the scheme, 48 three and four-bedroom townhouses will be built along with a new orangery and cafe.
The original deal would have given the council a £50,000 deposit after a development scheme was agreed and £1million within two years of planning consent or the ‘practical completion of the hotel’. The council was also set to be paid 15 per cent of the profits from the redevelopment.
The deal has now been agreed by the council and Akkeron Regeneration, the development arm of Akkeron Group. The mansion will be fully restored and conserved, and the currently derelict ancillary buildings converted into a spa and fitness centre. Over 75 full time jobs will be created.
Torbay Mayor Gordon Oliver said: “I am very pleased that an agreement has been reached that ensures the development is carried out in a way which preserves and enhances the buildings and grounds for the enjoyment of both residents and visitors.”
James Brent, chairman of Akkeron, said: “In these times of austerity, the public and private sectors need to work in close partnership not only to protect our heritage but to create homes and jobs for our communities.”
Steve Parrock, chief executive of the Torbay Development Agency, said: “I am delighted that four years of hard work from the TDA and council have come to fruition.”
Paul Hawthorne, chairman of the Friends of Oldway, said: “We welcome the finalising of the agreement.”
Torbay Civic Society chairman Ian Handford said: “Rather than see this important building go into irreversible decline, the Civic Society has supported the renovation proposals while ensuring important public access to the main areas and the estate is maintained.”
Work will begin on site at the earliest opportunity with the project due to be completed by 2015.
The cafe is open for business until next year and the developer is keen to work with the operators as long possible. The tennis courts will be open for business for next few months and will re-open next year.
Both bowls clubs are unaffected for time being — the indoor club is staying open until the new club opens. The outdoor club is investing in ground improvements.
Public access to the gardens and grounds will be carefully managed to ensure the public can enjoy safe access during the development and any temporary restrictions will be carefully considered and minimised, says Torbay Council.
The mansion is available for meetings and events until next March. Most weddings are now being undertaken at Cockington, with the wedding room returning to Oldway in 2015.
The registrars are moving to Paignton Library in mid October. Access to Singer Collection continues.”
Although everyone involved in the scheme appear to be happy with the way it’s going, hardened cynics may point out that what originally appeared to be a £1 million plus, selling price on the mansion plus a 15% cut on the houses going to the Council, now appears to be a near half million sum going to Akkeron. Also, in spite of the fairly detailed nature of the report, there’s nothing specific about the hotel aspect of the overall scheme, which has been the chief concern of the Congress organisers and players.
As most players at Paignton know, there has been, after 62 years in the same room, a cloud of uncertainty over the future of the event, due to the fact that the Borough Council are in the process of handing over the Oldway estate to property developers, the Akkeron Group. This has been on the cards for several years, and in recent months little seems to have been happening. The Council’s problem has been the on-going cost of maintaining the mansion to the standard set by its builder, Paris Singer. The out-buildings are mostly derelict and unusable, while the mansion itself is starting to go the same way – the roof is defective and water is starting to penetrate the structure. Even in Ballroom there is a dark, menacing-looking patch of rot high up on one of the walls.
However, on arrival last Sunday, it was clear that things have moved on. Most of the 300 council employees that are based in the Mansion have moved to other premises and their office spaces are now empty, as is much of the car park; no longer is it a nightmare to find a space in – parking has never been so easy. And it has been confirmed that there will no chess at Oldway in September 2013 as the builders will have moved in by then.
At first, after some unsuccessful preliminary enquiries about possible alternative venues , the Committee was minded to take a sabbatical for 2013 and see how accommodating the new management might be once the Mansion-cum council offices had been turned into a top class hotel.
Early this morning, the restaurant manageress let it be known that Akkeron’s MD, James Brent, with a group of (presumably) project managers had been seen working their way around the extensive grounds, taking photographs with “a very large camera”. Around 10 a.m. Congress Secretary Alan Crickmore set off in chase, in the hope of collaring Brent to talk about the prospects for 2014, but the group had vanished.
Talking to the Mayor on Sunday, it was clear that the developers do not have a completely free hand to do anything that takes their fancy. Written in to the contract is the restriction that what parts of the house are currently open to the public – the entrance hall, gallery and Ballroom – must remain largely unchanged and open to the public, as the estate was originally was bequeathed by the Singer family to the community, conditions that the Council itself has had to adhere to for 65 years.
Later, there was a surprise visit by Mark Jones, Akkeron’s Development Manager, in company with Iain Masters, Senior Development Surveyor of the Torbay Development Agency. Jones was certain that the Oldway conversion project was programmed to run over 18 months, starting next summer, so there was no way they could accommodate the Congress in 2013 or 2014 – something of a downer. However, Masters was sure that Torre Abbey would make an ideal alternative venue. It is adjacent to the Riviera Centre and near the sea-front. It’s currently under renovation, but should be ready to take bookings from next summer. It can seat 200 people for functions, and, although very different from Oldway, is an even more historic site. It used to host large chess events in the 60s & ’70s – the WECU Championship being one.
Something to watch out for.
Meanwhile, back at the board, of the 3 joint leaders, Berry and Bates shared the points, leaving Arkell able to push on into clear first. Harari is not one of the Paignton regulars, but is making a strong run, taking the scalp of Dave Ledger.
Here are the rest of the results:
|1||(3)||K. C. Arkell||1||0||S. P. Dilleigh||(3)|
|2||(3)||S. Berry||½||½||R. A. Bates||(2½)|
|3||(2)||Z. Harari||1||0||D. Ledger||(2½)|
|4||(2)||D. Mackle||1||0||J. McKenna||(2)|
|5||(2)||J. F. Wheeler||½||½||A. M. Stone||(2)|
|6||(2)||J. Burnett||½||½||M. Healey||(2)|
|7||(1½)||A. Pickersgill||½||½||J. H. Hodgson||(1½)|
|8||(1½)||M. J. Simons||1||0||D. Littlejohns||(1½)|
|9||(1½)||G. Bolt||½||½||A. M. Brown||(1½)|
|10||(1½)||J. W. Bass||0||1||P. R. Kemp||(1½)|
|11||(1½)||D. O. Collier||1||0||A. W. Brusey||(1½)|
|12||(1½)||J. C. Wells||½||½||A. Crombleholme||(1½)|
|13||(1½)||J. Waterfield||½||½||I. Lewyk||(1½)|
|14||(1½)||T. Spanton||0||1||D. B. Rosen||(1½)|
|15||(1½)||C. Herda||0||1||R. A. Barton||(1½)|
|16||(1½)||J. E. Hickman||0||1||D. A. Cutmore||(1½)|
|17||(1)||C. Archer-Lock||1||0||J. Coburn||(½)|
|18||(1)||A. Archer-Lock||½||½||M. J. Cutmore||(½)|
|19||(1)||M. Shaw||0||1||R. J. Webster||(½)|
|20||(½)||G. Taylor||0||1||K. D. Gregory||(½)|
|21||(0)||P. L. Cheshire||½||½||N. Mahoney||(½)|
|22||(½)||S. J. Burke||1||bye||(0)|
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