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West of England Congress – Day 4

Easter Monday morning saw the 7th and final round of the Congress. Often this is the opportunity for many players, already exhausted and not in line for a prize, are only too happy to agree to a quick draw and get off home, but this was unlikely to feature in the Open Section as no less than 8 players were either in the lead or just a half point behind.

One exception featured two of the joint leaders, Thompson & McMichael. Keen to be in the mix for the Qualifying Place, Robert Thompson kept an eye on the adjacent board where Steve Dilleigh (W) was playing fellow leader Patryk Krzyzanowski, and reckoned that (a) the Pole had no discernable advantage and in any case his sum-of-opponents’ score was likely to be lower than his own, and (b) Dilleigh was a solid player, not liable to unforced errors or blunders. So he made a calculated gamble and offered a draw after just 16 moves, which was accepted. That left Kryzyzanowski to try for a win in order to become clear winner. And try he certainly did, but to no avail. The game went right down to the final minute of extra time, but there was nothing in the position for Patryk, in fact, in danger of over-pressing, he came close to losing. As the last game to finish in the hall, there was a crowd, four deep in places, pressing for a view of how it would turn out. The last moves were either indecipherable or they stopped recording, but as I recall it, when the last 2 pawns came off, they were left with a minor piece each, and a draw was agreed.

This left a 4-way tie for 1st place, between, Kryzyzanowski, McMichael, Mackle (who had caught up by winning his game against Smith) and Thompson. The cash prize was shared equally, each getting £155. The question of the British Championship Qualifying Place was to be determined and proved more complicated than in most years. It can only go to an eligible player, i.e. someone either born in, or resident in the one of the 7 counties that comprise the Union, Cornwall to Gloucestershire to Hampshire.

Richard McMichael told me afterwards he would dearly have loved to have qualified but had to confess he was a proud Lancastrian by birth. Kryzyzanowski lives in Yeovil but had the lowest Sum-of-Opponents’ score of the four, so he was out of the reckoning as well. That left Mackle and Thompson, Mackle with the better S-o-S.  There was some confusion as to whether Mackle had actually got a qualifying place at the Paignton Congress, as there were some anomalies surrounding it. It took a couple of days to ascertain that he had done so, and was thus pre-qualified, which left Robert Thompson the last man standing.

So Torbay  resident, Robert Thompson, has qualified for the Torquay British Championship, later in the year, and will receive a £100 bursary towards the entry fee.

Dominic Mackle, on the other hand, became West of England Champion.

At the end of the day, the complete prizelist looked like this. Special mention should be made of Graham Shepherd, the highest scorer and only clear section winner. The Major was even more closely contested that the Open, with no less than 10 players with the highest score or within a half point of it. Of the 6 who got a winner’s cheque, only Theo Slade qualified for the WECU Trophy (see below). 

Recently retired ECF Chief Executive, Andrew Farthing, kindly agreed to present the prizes, and the ceremony was moved forward to 2.30p.m. in the hope that more would stay for the prizegiving. In this respect it was a good move as about half the players clapped and cheered the winners as they stepped into the spotlight. The only hiccup was that there had not been time to identify which of the 4 Open winners should get the QP and which the Champion’s title. In fact, it took a further 3 days to do this, so it was, perhaps, just as well we didn’t wait.

Section   Name Grd Club Pts
Open 1st= Dominic Mackle 214 Newton Abbot 5
    Richard McMichael 207 King’s Head, London 5
    Patryk Krzyzanowski 193 Yeovil 5
    Robert Thompson 180 Bristol University 5
GP   U-188 1st Stephen Dilleigh 187 Horfield, Bristol
GP   U-180 1st David Littlejohns 169 Taunton
        25 competed  
           
Major (U-175) 1st= Yasser Tello 166 Wimbledon 5
    David Razzell 157 King’s Head, London 5
    John Nyman 156 Sutton 5
GP   U-158 1st= Theo Slade 157 Barnstaple
    Joshua Higgs 153 Worth School, Sussex
GP   U-150 1st Andrew Farthing 143 Worcester
        35 competed  
           
Minor (U-140) 1st Graham Shepherd 129 Church Stretton 6
  2nd= David Rogers 135 Exmouth
    Nathan Mills 135 Brixham
GP   U-124 1st= John Dean 116 Plymouth
    Nigel Mills 122 Yeovil
GP   U-109 1st Alan Fraser 104 Beckenham & Bromley 4
        34 competed  
           
R. Burton Prize   Dr. Robert A. Ryan   95 Lyme Regis 3

 

The 2 top games; one very short - the other (nearest) very long.

Steve Dilleigh receiving top grading prize from Andrew Farthing.

Robert Thompson won the British Championship QP

Lancastrian Richard McMichael receives his winner's cheque.

Patryk Krzyzanowski made a brave shot at becoming clear winner, but had to be content with a quarter share

New WECU Champion, Dominic Mackle.

Hazel Welch retained her Ladies Championship.

Graham Shepherd, clear winner of the Minor with 6/7 points

The problem of Andrew Farthing presenting a cheque to himself was solved by Section Controller, John Arris.

Of the 6 Major Section cheque winners, only Theo Slade was eligible for the trophy.