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Current Entries In the Royal Beacon Seniors Congress 20.10.17.

Announcement:

Robert Everson has been one of our most regular competitiors in the Seniors Congress from the start, one of significant contingent coming each year from Kent.

This year, he was, as usual, one of the 1st entries in, but then I was told he was ill, and a little later, that he would be too ill to play. Now I’m told he has been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour, and has been hospitalised.

I’m sure all our thoughts go to him and his family & friends.

I don’t know if he’s able to receive messages or e-mails, but his address is bobeversonq@gmail.com.

Beacon Seniors’ Congress 2017

Royal Beacon Hotel – Exmouth

Mon. 6th – Fri. 10th Nov.

Entries so far

Date: 20th Oct.

17 days to go

Seniors 65+

1 202 Stephen Berry Wimbledon
2 194 Ken Norman Wokingham
3 181 Ivan Myall Chelmsford
4 180 Norman Hutchinson Cambridge
5 172 Robert Everson    ill Dartford
6 169 Adrian Pickersgill Hastings
7 163 Bill Ingham Teignmouth
8 162 Ian McAllan Sidcup
9 161 Brian Valentine Leighton B.
10 159 Brian Gosling E. Budleigh
11 154 Andrew Price Leamington
12 153 Raymond Gamble Derby
13 152 David Openshaw Cavendish
14 152 Arthur Hibbitt Banbury
15 150 Martin Page Insurance
16 147 Mike Wiltshire Kent
17 142 Ivor Annetts Tiverton
18 138 Paul Foster Medway
19 136 Malcolm Roberts Holmes Chapel
20 133 Dinah Norman Wokingham
21 132 Ray Kearsley Wimbledon
22 131 Michael Cresswell Barking
23 131 Gerald Naldrett Gerrards Cross
24 130 Peter Lucas Sussex
25 130 Robert Hurn Caerphilly
26 129 Alan Sherriff Bexley
27 129 Stan Lovell BCA
28 128 William Harris Sidmouth
29 128 Robert Jones Exmouth
30 123 Paul Errington Bournemouth
31 123 Ray Hunt Seaton
32 119 Roger Waters BCA
33 119 Philip Gordon BCA
34 119 Malcolm Belt Exmouth
35 117 Omer Namouk Hastings
36 112 David Burt Bournemouth
37 102 Sid Jones Dorchester
38 96 Peter Carrick Bath
39 93 Hazel Welch Seaton
40 91 Marian Cox Southampton
41 81 Reg Cox Southampton

“Juniors”  50 – 64

1 197 Graham Bolt Exeter
2 191 Mike Waddington Dorchester
3 188 Steve Dilleigh Bristol
4 188 Jonathan Wells Norwich
5 185 Ian Heppell Wimbledon
6 173 Alan Brown Northampton
7 169 Tim Spanton Hastings
8 167 Ronnie Burton Weymouth
9 163 Robert Stern Pimlico
10 161 Steve Dean Seaton
11 157 Phil Kennedy Cornwall
12 155 Colin Sellwood Camborne
13 152 Nigel Livesey Manchester
14 146 Jamie Morgan Cornwall
15 132 Ian Blencowe Gloucester
16 130 Paul Jackson Bournemouth
17 120 Susan Selley Exmouth
18 116 Graham Hillman Wimbourne
19 96 William Taplin Keynsham

Name in Yellow

= Most recent entry

WECU Chess Jamboree (17.09.2017.)

The West of England Chess Union’s annual Jamboree was held on Sunday 17th September, at a new venue, called the Kenn Centre, adjacent to the A38 near the foot of Haldon Hill in Devon. This was designed to make it a little easier for the Cornish players to get there, although it’s still a good distance from Truro.

This year there was no Graded Section, but Devon used their more numerous troops to form a 1st team from the best 12 avaialble players, and a 2nd team from the next best dozen. This latter team used up some of the players who would in earlier years have formed the basis of a grade-limited team.

The Centre proved to be an excellent venue for the event, being modern in construction, with large playing hall, analysis room, kitchen facilities and ample parking. It will be surely used again at some point for chess events.

The Organiser, Mark Hassall, (standing centre) having enjoyed a quick win, takes time to monitor the progress of his Cornish team-mates. The nearest game involves clubmates Brian Gosling (B) vs Oliver Wensley (partly obscured) Brian Gosling

The outcome can be best shown in these 2 tables.

KEY
Teams Pos Pts
D1 = Devon 1st team Bd. 1 1st
S2 = Somerset Bd. 2 2nd 7
C3 = Cornwall  Bd. 3 3rd 5
D2nd 4 = Devon 2nd team Bd. 4 4th
G5 = Gloucestershire  Bd. 5 5th 4
Bd Team White Grd Black Grd Team
1 C1 J. Menadue 191 ½ ½ N. Crickmore 214 D1
2 D2nd 1 J. Haynes 171 0 1 J. Rudd 215 S1
3 D2 W. Braun 203 1 0 M. Ashworth 192 G1
4 S2 F. Fernando 182 1 0 J. Hooker 178 C2
5 G2 J. Jenkins 185 1 0 T. Thynne 170 D2nd 2
6 C3 L. Retallick 174 ½ ½ P. Brooks 170 D2nd 3
7 S3 A. Footner 181 1 0 P. Meade 178 G3
8 D2nd 4 M. Shaw 169 0 1 G. Bolt 196 D3
9 G4 P. Kirby 177 ½ ½ D. Saqui 169 C4
10 D4 J. Underwood 192 ½ ½ A. Bedialauneta 159 S4
11 C5 M. Hassall 168 1 0 P. O’Neill 188 D5
12 G5 P. Masters 175 ½ ½ D. Freeman 156 S5
13 D2nd 5 D. Regis 166 0 1 R. Kneebone 164 C6
14 D6 S. Martin 186 1 0 R. Ashworth 161 G6
15 S6 R. Knight 156 ½ ½ V. Ramesh 164 D2nd 6
16 C7 T. Manton 163 0 1 M. Taylor 144 G7
17 D2nd 7 W. Ingham 163 0 1 J. Wheeler 185 D7
18 D8 B. Hewson 184 1 0 N. Senior 150 S7
19 S8 T. Woodward 150 ½ ½ R. Stephens 160 C8
20 G8 A. Gibson 139 0 1 M. Wilson 161 D2nd 8
21 C9 C. Sellwood 155 0 1 T. Paulden 183 D9
22 D2nd 9 C. Scott 160 1 0 A. Champion 147 S9
23 D10 C. Lowe 176 ½ ½ A. Richards 133 G9
24 S10 C. Purry 147 1 0 R. Smith 153 C10
25 G10 I. Blencowe 131 ½ ½ G. Body 157 D2nd 10
26 C11 G. Trudeau 148 1 0 P. Bending 122 G11
27 S11 T. Wallis 144 0 1 P. Hampton 172 D11
28 D2nd 11 T. Lundin 156 1 0 J. Morgan 146 C12
29 G12 D. Walton 109 0 1 N. Mills 133 S12
30 D12 O. Wensley 172 1 0 B. Gosling 154 D2nd 12

Paignton Pics #1

Here are some scenes from the last day of the Congress…

Final Rd: Keith Arkell in action against Ashley Stewart, with David Gostelow taking Black against Steve Dilleigh next to them.

Final Rd: John Fraser vs Mike Waddington & Bates vs Goater. At one stage Fraser seemed to have his opponent completely tied up with all 3 kingside pieces unable to move, but Waddington eventually broke free and had 2 vs 2 pawns in which his proved the greater menace.

In the Challengers, Roger Hutchings failed to show up for his Bd. 1 game, so lost the chance to add another £300 to that won the day before in the Morning event. Here Chris Lowe plays Paul Jackson. and Trefor Thynne can be seen in action against Rossiter, while next to him is Bill Ingham playing Robert Stern.

Paignton Congress 2017 – Complete Prizelist

Here is the final prizelist of this year’s event, which totals nearly £4,500. The 0/2 prize is also called the Slow Starter prize, which was introduced to encourage those who have started the event disastrously, and to whom the prospect of an early return home might be coming increasingly attractive. It gives them something still to play for, instead of messing up the draw by withdrawing.

Arkell’s short Rd. 3 draw against his nearest rival, Richard Bates was, perhaps, predictable, but to be be fair he’d made 172 moves in his previous 2 games and, in any case, he was feeling (and looking) quite tired after a long series of back-to-back tournaments, taking in Dundee, Cardiff and Qatar, to name but three. And who wouldn’t.

Congratulations to all these winners.

Paignton  Congress  –  3rd – 9th September 2017
PRIZELIST
Premier
1st= Keith Arkell 2415 Halesowen £350
Richard Bates 2387 Hackney £350
3rd Mike Waddington 2080 Dorchester £200
4th= David Anderton 2093 Walsall Kipping 4 £33
Kevin Goater 2102 Weymouth 4 £33
Ashley Stewart 2127 Royston 4 £33
GP John Fraser 1870 Exeter University 4 £50
0/2 Ivan Myall 2000 Chelmsford 3 £20
Challengers (U-180)
1st Kevin Simpson 152 Mansfield 6 £300
2nd= Chris Lowe 176 Exeter 5 £75
Robert Stern 163 Albany 5 £75
Paul Jackson 162 Coulsdon 5 £75
Alex Rossiter 161 Bristol Cabot 5 £75
GP Yasser Tello 162 Wimbledon 4 £20
U-163 Colin Sellwood 155 Camborne 4 £20
U-154 Martin Page 152 Insurance £20
Jim Robertson 129 East Kilbride £20
0/2 Tim Spanton 169 Hastings £20
Intermediate (U-150)
1st Ivor Annetts 144 Tiverton £300
2nd= Terry Greenaway 141 Torquay 5 £150
Geoff Harrison 133 Gosforth 5 £150
GP Paul Doherty 126 Bolton 4 £10
U-132 Jeremy Brooks 121 Hampstead 4 £10
Gerald Parfett 119 Athenaeum 4 £10
0/2 Mark Stone 121 Pettswood 3 £20
Minor (U-120)
1st= Tim Allen 112 Battersea £250
Paul Errington 119 Bournemouth £250
3rd= Alan Davies 92 South Hams 5 £50
Tim Crouch 116 King’s Head 5 £50
GP Caroline Robson 105 Barnet 4 £30
GP George Phillips 96 B.C.A. 4 £15
U-98 Peter Carrick 96 Mid-Norton 4 £15
0/2 Reg Cox 84 Southampton 3 £10
Philip Gordon 119 B.C.A. 3 £10
5 Rd. Morning Sections
Boniface (U-180)
1st Roger Hutchings 174 Woodpushers £300
2nd= Richard Webster 175 Calderdale 4 £75
Clive Walley 164 Bath 4 £75
Alex Rossiter 161 Bristol Cabot 4 £75
Brian Gosling 154 East Budleigh 4 £75
GP Russell Goodfellow 159 Tunbridge Wells 3 £7.50
U-162 Alan Brusey 158 Newton Abbot 3 £7.50
Raymond Gamble 153 Derby 3 £7.50
Martin Keeve 161 Dresden 3 £7.50
U-146 John Shaddick 136 Basingstoke 3 £30
Thynne (U-135)
1st Paul Doherty 126 Bolton £300
2nd Tim Crouch 116 Kings Head 4 £200
3rd= David McGeeney 134 Bristol Cabot £33
Joseph Farrell 130 Metropolitan £33
Norbert Simmon 132 München £33
GP Stevo Ilic 101 Cowley £6
U-119 Clifford Peach 106 S. Hams £6
Barry Miles 115 Coulsdon £6
Graham Mill-Wilson 104 Plymouth £6
Susan Fraser 111 Darlington £6
0/2 Ken Ashby 97 S. Hams 2 £20
Richard Nash Blitz
1st John Fraser 5 £25
2nd Keith Arkell 4 £15
3rd= John Mercy 3 £2.50
David Costelow 3 £2.50
Kevin Goater 3 £2.50
Nigel Dennis 3 £2.50
Total prize money £4,458

Paignton Congress Rds. 3 & 4

Norman Tidy makes a move against Congress Organiser for many years, Alan Crickmore.

Rd. 4: Hazel Welch and Christine Constable both in deep thought.

Roger Waters (W) takes on Tony Tatam, who's enjoying the opportunity to swap the role of arbiter for that of player for a change.

Paignton Congress Hits The Road Again (06.09.2017.)

The venerable Paignton Congress got off to another start, but this time amid foul weather; a howling gale sweeping in from over Tor Bay bringing drenching rain – not your typical start to Paignton, it has to be said. It’s usually a fine week weatherwise, with the hotel gounds full of players soaking up the last rays of summer sun,  earnestly analysing or just chatting with friends. There won’t be much of that this week, but fortunately the hotel has room and facilities enough to cope with that.

The entry lists have a familiar look about them; players know what they like and come back year after year, but with a liberal enough sprinkling of  newcomers to maintain interest. Keith Arkell’s here, of course, defending his impressive 25 year record; familiar ground for him as he only lives down the road, and quite a change from his having just become the World’s Bughouse Chess Champion in Dubai, with his Bughouse partner and fellow Devonian, Jack Rudd. That must be some kind of record. If you don’t know what Bughouse Chess is, don’t ask – I’ll come back to it later.

Keith has Richard Bates as his nearest rival, who may be taking heart from the struggles Arkell has had in his early games. In round 1 his game lasted 102 moves and nearly filled 2 complete scoresheets, while his next game took a mere 70 moves to wear down Graham Bolt. On the other hand, these marathons seem to be meat & drink to him; he’s content to sit at the board, motionless and fully focussed for hour after hour, and that’s an important quality in a top player – they all have it. No fidgets, fussing, watching other games – just the occasional break to get a breath of fresh air to clear his head, then back to the board.

DCCA President, Paul Brooks, welcomes everyone before Rd. 1 begins.

Arkell & Daniel Rosen get their 102 move marathon under way. Next to Arkell is David Anderton, making a rare appearance at the event.

Rd. 2 and another mini-marathon ensues, this time involving Graham Bolt.

Arthur Hibbert vs former Paigntonian Chris Lowe on top board of the Challengers.

General view of the playing area #1

General view from a different angle at the same moment.

British Championship 2017 – Final Round Prospects.

The absence of 2 factors has probably helped to create this year’s blanket finish, going in to the final round this afternoon.

British Championship – Final Rd.
1 McShane Jones
2 Howell 6 Emms
3 Yang-Fan 6 6 Hanley
4 Gormally 6 Ghasi

Either Adams or Short would surely have this all sewn up by now, but they’re not here, and are surely missed by the spectators, if not the players.

The foreshortened 9 round format has many good points, but the possibility of a multiple play-off after the prizegiving is not one of them. An extra 2 rounds would have thinned down the contenders somewhat. As it is, the possibilities are almost endless.

For example, McShane and Jones can hardly afford to have a quick draw to ensure a play-off place, when Emms, who is clearly on-form, is capable of beating Howell, who is clearly not, thus taking the trophy outright. If Howell-Emms and Bd. 1 is drawn there would be 3-way tie. Or, if Howell, Yang-Fan and Gormally (all White) all win, while McShane – Jones is drawn, there’s a 5-way tie – and that could take the rest of the day tomorrow to resolve. And let’s not forget Hanley.

Two things are certain: there are many permutations, and the players will keeping a close eye on the other games as well as their own.

So who’s it going to be?

Devon Win National U-180 Title (03.07.2017.)

Devon took the English U-180 Championship in the Finals at Leamington Spa on Saturday. Here is the report of Captain on the day, Paul Brooks.

Match report: Devon vs Middlesex – U180 Final:
Devon won the toss and had white on odd boards. The first three hours of the match went well for Devon with a very good positional victory for Bill Ingham and solid draws for Brian Gosling, Dennis Cowley, Jos Haynes and Paul Brooks. John Fraser had the better of his opponent’s Sicilian defence and Steve Dean was looking in control of his game with excellent outposts for his knights and a good space advantage. I then looked at Steve’s clock and noticed he had 5 minutes to play about 17 moves! By the time he reached the time-control the outposts had gone, he was a pawn down and his bishop was buried behind a solid wall of pawns, so he was facing an uphill struggle.
Debutant Alex Taylor played a King’s Gambit where chances seemed to be fluctuating from one side to the other, while Dave Regis and Oliver Wensley were both under fairly strong pressure. Meyrick Shaw, on the other hand, created an excellent position with a kingside attack, doubling rooks on the h file.
Chris Bellers and Alan Brusey both achieved well-earned draws and a few minutes later John Wheeler had neutralised his opponent’s slight pressure and another draw was agreed.
Alex Taylor having fought to reach an position where he had 3 pawns for a bishop was unfortunate that his opponent was able to co-ordinate his rooks and bishop successfully in an attack where Alex had to give up a rook or be mated.
Mark Abbott took advantage of opposition time pressure to win a good game, but things were looking bad for Dave Regis and Oliver Wensley, who both reached positions where their opponents had endgames with a couple of extra pawns. After a hard fight both players were forced to resign.
Steve Dean also succumbed in the endgame, so with 3 matches still to be decided Devon were 2 points in arrears. It was clear that 2 wins and a draw would enable Devon to win on board count, so there was still all to play for.
Meyrick Shaw played well to exchange into a rook and pawn endgame where he was 3 pawns up and after a short fight his opponent was forced to resign. On top board, John Fraser played an excellent attack which forced his opponent to exchange into an endgame where John was two pawns up and these were both passed and connected on the sixth rank. John played a clever combination which allowed his opponent to win a pawn, but the consequence was that a couple of moves later he was forced to liquidate into an endgame where John had a single unstoppable g pawn.
So the match was all-square and everyone’s attention shifted to Paul Hampton’s game. This had been very close all the way through, but, with both players down to their last 10 minutes, the Middlesex player seemed to have an edge, holding the slight material advantage of rook and 2 pawns to Paul’s knight and 3 pawns. The fact that all the pawns were on the kingside meant that we had hopes that Paul could hold the draw. Paul’s opponent looked as though he was taking control with his advanced king and rook on the seventh rank, but Paul kept cool, swapping off a pawn and creating a fortress which meant that his opponent was never going to be able to force his final pawn through. In the end, Paul was able to create a passed pawn himself which advanced to the seventh rank where his opponent had to sacrifice his rook and leave Paul with a bare knight and a draw.
So a very tough encounter finished 8-8, but as Devon’s wins had come on higher boards Devon were victorious on board count. A great victory to follow up an excellent season!
Devon grd Middlesex grd
1 John Fraser 178 1 0 B. Kelmendi 179
2 John Wheeler 174 ½ ½ S. Coles 176
3 Mark Abbott 172 1 0 M. Grigorian 175
4 Chris Bellers 173 ½ ½ I. Calvert 177
5 Dennis Cowley 169 ½ ½ G. Batchelor 174
6 Dave Regis 175 0 1 A. Hayler 170
7 Paul Hampton 161 ½ ½ M. Dydak 169
8 Oliver Wensley 168 0 1 A. Fulton 173
9 Jos Haynes ½ ½ R. Campbell 168
10 Alan Brusey 166 ½ ½ R. Walczak 173
11 Alex Taylor 165 0 1 J. White 171
12 Paul Brooks 161 ½ ½ P. Kennelly 167
13 Bill Ingham 162 1 0 J. Dhemrait 161
14 Meyrick Shaw 163 1 0 J. Hudson 154
15 Steve Dean 160 0 1 J. Rudeck 161
16 Brian Gosling 159 ½ ½ R. Thursby 154
8 8
Board count 31 40
A few photos of the happy occasion……
The team after the presentation, clutching their golden trophies.

Exmouth’s Exciting End-of-Term Experiences.

If there has been a more concentrated and closely contested climax to a season, I don’t recall it.

Four matches, four victories and two trophies in 12 days represents as rich a reward as anyone at the club could reasonably expect.

Let’s start on Saturday 22nd April in the Mamhead Cup, Devon’s Division 2. With one match to play, Exmouth and Newton Abbot were joint leaders on match points, but Exmouth having scored a half point more in games. So Exmouth simply did not have to score less points against the final opponents, Teignmouth, than Newton Abbot did against Barnstaple. As Newton Abbot did win their match 3.5 – o.5, Exmouth had to beat Teignmouth by at least the same score …. or more – a big ask. But they equalled Newton Abbot’s winning margin, so winning the Mamhead Cup by half a game point.

Exmouth Teignmouth
1 O. E. Wensley 168 ½ ½ W. H. Ingham 162
2 M. Shaw 163 1 0 Rev. C. Doidge 124
3 C. J. Scott 151 1 0 N. F. Tidy 122
4 M. Belt 127 1 0 A. Webster 82
609 ½ 490

Three days later, on Tuesday 25th April, there was an away match against Exeter in the E. Devon RapidPlay League. This turned out to be not quite as close a match as the previous one, thus winning that league, and a second trophy in 4 days. (Photos below)

Exeter & Dist. League   –   RapidPlay League  Div. 1     25.04.2017.
Exeter Rd 1 Rd 2 Exmouth Rd 1 Rd 2
1 S. Pope 149 ½ ½ C. J. Scott 151 ½ ½
2 R. Whittington 136 1 1 A. Dean 141 0 0
3 R. Player 114 0 0 Dr. M. Marshall 140 1 1
4 Dr. J. Maloney 96 0 0 R. H. Jones 135 1 1
3 5

The following Saturday, Exmouth entertained Newton Abbot in the final round of the Bremridge Cup, Devon’s Division 1. There was no trophy at stake this time as Exeter had already secured overall victory by virtue of their narrow win over Exmouth earlier in the year, but nevertheless rivalry is always keen. Both teams were without 2 top players, but the six pairings looked to favour the home side.

However, at the halfway point, Exmouth went 1-0 down, and had no discernable advantage in the other 5 games, so it was backs-to-the-wall time for sure. Oliver Wensley went right down to K+P vs K but his king was in front of his pawn and the opposing king was not inclined to allow him the freedom to move aside, so game drawn. Then rather suddenly, the other four games, in spite of their closeness throughout, all went Exmouth’s way, leaving the final score 4.5 – 1.5, certainly a scoreline that belies the actual play.

DCCA    –   Div. 1   Bremridge Cup        29.04.2017.
Exmouth grd Newton Abbot grd
1 W. Braun 195 1 0 P. Brooks 185
2 S. Martin 185 0 1 A. W. Brusey 169
3 P. D. Hampton 166 1 0 V. Ramesh 139
4 M. V. Abbott 176 1 0 A. Kinder 125
5 O. E. Wensley 168 ½ ½ C. V. Howard 143
6 C. J. Scott 152 1 0 J. E. Allen 145
1043 4½ 1½ 910

Exmouth vs Newton Abbot: A study in collective concentration.

Bd. 1: Paul Brooks vs Walter Braun.

Bds 3 & 4: Ramesh vs Hampton & Abbott vs Kinder.

Bds 5 & 6: Howard vs Wensley & Scott vs Allen.

This was closely followed by another home match on Wednesday night, against Exeter in the E. Devon League Div. 1. This time the odds seemed to favour the visitors, with Barbara Newcombe, a newcomer this season to OTB chess,  playing her first 1st team match for the Club. Her draw against the experienced Will Marjoram, in the face of a 40 point difference in their grades, seemed to inspire the others, the home side running out 3.5 – 0.5 winners.

So the situation is that, with only 3 teams involved, Exmouth have lost to Seaton but beaten Exeter, who play Seaton next week. If Exeter win that match it could be 3-way tie situation – unless complicated tie-breaks come into play. Who knows, a third trophy might come our way, but no-one here’s holding their breath on that one.

Exeter & Dist. League   –   League  Div. 1     03.05.2017
Exmouth grd Exeter grd
1 M. V. Abbott 176 1 0 Dr. T. Paulden 185
2 O. E. Wensley 168 1 0 Dr. D. Regis 169
3 Dr. M. O. Marshall 162 1 0 R. Whittington 139
4 B. Newcombe 85 ½ ½ W. Marjoram 125
591 ½ 618

Exmouth's winning RapidPlay team: Seated (l) Chris Scott & Alan Dean (capt.). Standing (l) Bob Jones & Michael Marshall.

Exeter's home team: Seated (l) Sean Pope & Reece Whittington. Standing (l) Richard Player & John Maloney.

Rd. 1 gets under way.

Exeter & Dist. League   –   RapidPlay League  Div. 1     25.04.2017.
Exeter Rd 1 Rd 2 Exmouth Rd 1 Rd 2
1 S. Pope 149 ½ ½ C. J. Scott 151 ½ ½
2 R. Whittington 136 1 1 A. Dean 141 0 0
3 R. Player 114 0 0 Dr. M. Marshall 140 1 1
4 Dr. J. Maloney 96 0 0 R. H. Jones 135 1 1
3 5

West of England Championship & Congress 2017

For 50 years after its inaugural event in 1947, the WECU Championship was (a) always held at Easter-time as that was when folk had their holidays and were therefore free to attend a 4 day event, making it the first seaside holiday of the year for many and (b) it rotated around the constituent counties – Newquay, Weymouth, Weston-Super-Mare and Torquay were the most regular hosts, and all took a turn. It was relatively easy to organise because the towns themselves were keen to host it, as it was seen to be a boost to the local holiday business. Civic buildings were offered as venues, the Mayor would gladly open and close the event, and would organise a free Civic Reception for players and their families. But the days when town councils had that degree of largesse gradually dimished as they became increasingly hit by financial strictures, and it became left to the Congress Secretary of the day to try and find suitable venues, on his own in towns he didn’t know.

Eventually, the Union Executive decided to see if holding it in one place would help to stabilise the entry by regularising the arrangements from year to year. Thus in 1999 it came to Exmouth, which had never hosted the event before. As the Union’s General Secretary at the time, it was left to me to find a suitable venue. My first port of call was a visit to see a former member of the Exmouth Chess Club, John Fowler of Eagle Investments, who I knew dealt with properties in the town. “That’s a coincidence”, he said “I’ve just bought a hotel – the Royal Beacon Hotel”. It was that easy, and it’s been there ever since.

The Beacon area of Exmouth has been described as one of the best-kept secrets of the south coast, situated as it is where the Exe estuary, a site of special scientific interest (SSSI) for its flora and faunam, meets the Jurassic Coast, a World Heritage site. A series of late 18th century houses, in which lived Lady Nelson and Lady Hamilton as neighbours,  lead up from the town centre to a point high above the promenade, where the hotel is situated. In mediaeval times, a beacon was situated at the cliff edge, outside where the hotel now is, ready to be lit in times of threatened invasion by foreign forces, as it was when the Spanish Armada approached. Today there is a symbolic beacon in metalwork to mark the site.

That explains the Beacon part of its name – the Royal bit is explained by the King of Saxony, who was conducting a private journey around the British Isles in the 1840s, staying there … for one night. The owner at the time spotted his opportunity and Royal it has been ever since.

The Hotel has proved a very satisfactory venue, both for its situation, residential accommodation and playing conditions. This was the 19th consective year it’s been held there.

The overall entry this year was 76, with the Minor Section, usually the biggest section, strangely this year being the smallest at 22.

In the Open, although there were 2 FIDE Masters and a Candidate Master among the ranks there was never any question that GM Keith Arkell would retain his championship title, although even for him, having secured that particular aim after Rd. 6, there was a sting in the tail and he lost to McMichael in the final round.

The wallcharts below, tell the whole story:

The Championship Section

The Major Section

The Minor Section

West of England Congress – Easter 2017

Prizelist

Grd Club /7
Championship (Open)
1st K. C. Arkell 2411 Paignton 6
2nd= R. McMichael 2230 Kings Head 5
M. Waddington 2061 Dorchester 5
GPs D. Littlejohns 1999 Taunton
R. De Coverley 1988 Bourne End
R. Bryant 1984 Oswestry
M. Shaw 1944 Exmouth
O. E. Wensley 1798 Exmouth
Major (U-2000)
1st= P. Brooks 1915 Newton Abbot
R. Hutchings 1845 Woodpushers
3rd= J. Hickman 1897 5
J. McDonnell 1863 Streatham 5
GP C. Sellwood   (U-1750) 1668 Camborne
Minor (U-130)
1st= J, Barber-Lafon 128 Newton Abbot 5
1st= K. Alexander 124 Seaton 5
1st= D. Burt 104 Bournemouth 5
GP A. Fraser        (U-110) 107 Beckenham 4

And now, the story in pictures …..

Rd. 1: Mitchell vs McMichael 0-1

Rd. 1: General view of the playing area - right side from the stage.

Rd. 1: Generel view of the playing area - left side from stage.

Rd. 1: Ingham vs Waddington (nearest) 0-1 & Bolt vs Shaw. 1-0

Rd. 1: Up & coming Cornish junior, Adam Hussain, faces the top seed in the Major, Ronnie Burton. 2nd seed, Paul Brooks opens against Phil Foley.

Rd. 2: Clubmates Walter Braun and event secretary, Meyrick Shaw, get their 2nd game under way, while Littlejohns plays Tim Paulden.

Rd. 2: John Bass plays Patryk Krzyzanowski alongside Menadue and Helbig.

Rd. 2: Eventual winner, Keith Arkell, moves against eventual joint runner-up, Mike Waddington.

Rd. 2: In the Minor, Bracken Lockett faces the eventual Grading Prize winner, Alan Fraser, alongside Wendy Carr and N. Thatte.

Rd. 5: MsMichael plays Alan Crombleholme, a well-known name in chess circles, especially in the Midlands, but his first visit to this event.

Rd. 5: Sellwood vs Brooks & Hutchings vs Hickman

Rd. 6: Graham Bolt makes a move against Mike Waddington.

Rd. 6: Top 2 boards in the Major - Brooks vs Hutchings & Price vs Sellwood.

Rd. 7: Top 2 games in the Minor - Rogers vs Tidy (drawn) & Dave Burt vs Paul Errington. 1-0. A remarkable achievement for the 14th seed, and 80+ years young to come 1st=.

Rd 7: The top 2 seeds meet at last. Arkell had already won the title with 6/6, which may have affected his sharpness in this game, which he lost after a long tactical endgame.

Final round; final game to finish, and a crowd gathers around as a small drama unfolds - Arkell loses a game!

Ken Alexander and Jacquie Barber-Lafon, 2 of the 3 joint winners of the Minor, accept their prize from WECU Treasurer, Oliver Wensley, who features in every photo from now on!

Jacquie Barber-Lafon was clearly delighted to become West of England Ladies Champion.

Joint winners in the Major, "Superman" Hutchings and Paul Brooks.

The Grading Prize winners from the Open, messers Shaw, Wensley, de Coverly and Bryant.

Runners-Up: Waddington & McMichael.

He's won it twice before, he's just lost a game, but that obviously doesn't spoil the moment for GM Keith Arkell.

West of England Congress – Easter 2017

Prizelist

Grd Club /7
Championship (Open)
1st K. C. Arkell 2411 Paignton 6
2nd= R. McMichael 2230 Kings Head 5
M. Waddington 2061 Dorchester 5
GPs D. Littlejohns 1999 Taunton
R. De Coverley 1988 Bourne End
R. Bryant 1984 Oswestry
M. Shaw 1944 Exmouth
O. E. Wensley 1798 Exmouth
Major (U-2000)
1st= P. Brooks 1915 Newton Abbot
R. Hutchings 1845 Woodpushers
3rd= J. Hickman 1897 5
J. McDonnell 1863 Streatham 5
GP C. Sellwood   (U-1750) 1668 Camborne
Minor (U-130)
1st= J, Barber-Lafon 128 Newton Abbot 5
1st= K. Alexander 124 Seaton 5
1st= D. Burt 104 Bournemouth 5
GP A. Fraser        (U-110) 107 Beckenham 4
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