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100th British – the Preliminaries: Part 1.

As this is the 100th British, a number of extra events have been organised, some of them of a traditional nature, others being done for the 1st time.

Bullet Chess Challenge:

The first of these was the Bullet Chess Challenge, sponsored by Think Drink. The start was originally scheduled for 10 a.m. but was put back to noon, to allow (a) the sponsor’s directors to be present and (b) for the players involved to be fully awake with brains in gear.

These were (a) Keith Arkell, a Grandmaster now domiciled in Paignton - Keith has been British RapidPlay Champion and is well-versed in the thought  processes needed for very quick chess, and (b) Gary Lane, born and bred in Paignton, now domiciled in Australia, where he has been their national champion.

The aim was to set a world record for the number of games completed by two players at the board in 1 hour, a record to be recognised by the Guinness Book of Records, subject to their strict conditions. The players to sit directly opposite each other one one board with another one adjacent, to be used when the previous one was being re-set. Matt Carr and Tom Thorpe were the two young ECF Arbiters in charge of re-setting the boards and clocks. Dave Welch kept score and was time-keeper.

Bency Silvester (MD) and Dr. Stefan Hesse (Director) of Think Drink duly arrived on cue and after a few last-minute discussions about the rules, play got under way. The speed of moves was bewildering to the mere mortal, their hands becoming little more than a blur. After 28 games, the score was 14-all; Keith Arkell lost the 1st game, and although he took the lead he was never more than 2 games ahead, as Lane kept pulling back. However, after the 14-all stage, two things happened (b) Arkell lost the nerves he’d had in the first half and Lane began to lose some focus, as it seemed to him that they’d been playing for hours on end. Consquently, Arkell won the last 9 games 8 – 1, making the final score 22 – 15. However, it was certainly not a one-sided affair, being very competitive throughout.

Afterwards, Bency Silverster and Dr. Stefan Hesse of Think Drink,  presented both players with cheques for £200, and commended them for their brain-draining efforts. They certainly needed some brain-boosting refreshment after that!

Last minute check on the rules.

Dr. Stefan Hesse of Think Drink makes the 1st move.

A handshake gets it all started.

Re-setting clocks & boards.

General view of the hall.

37th and final game gets under way.

Players & sponsors relax with an after-match drink.