The Steve Boniface Memorial Congress might just be my favourite tournament in the local chess calendar. There are not many times when I haven’t played it in the 13yrs I have played in the Bristol league (last years new fatherhood status was a rare but allowable exception). For me it has always signified the end of the summer break from chess and a first opportunity to try out all of my new novelties , openings and general hard studying that I have conducted over May, June, July and August. Its also a welcome opportunity to catch up with club mates and engage in the usual friendly banter!
As congresses go, it is a standard Swiss format with five rounds played across Friday to Sunday. A FIDE rated Open section is accompanied by a Major (U155 ECF) and Minor (U125 ECF) meaning there is something for everyone. The Steve Boniface Memorial is one of four congresses run throughout the year by Alan Papier, the Bristol leagues congress secretary (Thanks Alan!) and in recent years they have attracted a number of titled players including IM Chris Beaumont and GM Keith Arkell.
I am particularly excited this year as for the first time ever I will be trying my luck in the Open section having achieved a personal best of 152 in the new July grades. Whilst I fully expect this to put me bottom of the Open field, I feel like my chess is improving through playing tougher opposition. A creditable 12th finish out of 20 in the Somerset New Years Congress has given me the (perhaps misguided) belief that I won’t finish bottom of my favourite tournament. Anyway, fortune favours the brave so I will write back next week on how I get on…
Like all of the main Bristol Congresses, a final highlight is the location and playing area. Held at Bristol Grammar School in the heart of Clifton, I’ve really enjoyed the venue in terms of both playing but also having access to lots of local shops and restaurants between games. Particularly useful following those brutal losses in less than 20 moves…
In terms of money there is over £750 of prize money split relatively evenly across the three main sections. Overall, what is not to like about this great congress that ushers in the new season.
In other local chess news, the 4th and final round of the Downend Summer Quickplay is also this week on Tuesday 22nd August. Currently Morris Stranger (University Chess Club) and Atilla Reznek (Downend & Fishponds Chess Club) are tied at the top on 11.5pts but there is a big chasing pack so anything could happen.
Current top standings in the Downend Summer Quickplay after 3 rounds.
Jon is the Editor of The Bristol Chess Times and Publicity and Recruitment Officer for The Bristol & District Chess League. He plays for Horfield Chess Club and has been known to play 1. b3 on occasion.