From the Front Line: Bristol Winter Congress

The juniors steal the limelight again! 22 junior players out of 98 total descended upon Bristol grammar school and played some scintillating chess. It was the return of the Bristol Winter Congress, now under new directorship from Clifton regular Igor Doklestic.


GM Keith Arkell returned alongside IM Chris Beaumont – setting the bar high in the open to say the least. In all three sections there were tough fights for the prizes and juniors were certainly at the forefront.

Max French and Vorobyev Svyatoslav were both lucky enough (or unlucky enough!) to be paired against Arkell – and were narrowly edged out by the endgame specialist GM, but despite that both finished on 3.5/5. Lewis Martin (not a junior anymore!) was the only one to take half a point off Arkell and finished overall second with 4/5. His exciting 3rd round game will feature in Game of the Month.

Top mentions also to go to Chirag Hosdurga and Oli Stubbs who scored 3 and 2.5 out of five in their very first opens! Chirag showed much determination to convert advantages in the early rounds and stay at the top in the hope of being paired against Arkell, but the computer pairings went against him – there’s always the next tournament.

The major saw exactly the sort of chess the major is famous for! Tactical games and advantages swinging back and forth. For Max Walker it was the tale of two Steven Williams’ as he played both namesakes – finally succumbing to the eventual winner in the last round; but here is his third round game which propelled him to the top!


Max wins the exchange early on, but an exchange is only worth it if the rooks are actually better than minor pieces! The fight continues with Max defending against a pawn storm with everyone except the queen – who stirs up trouble on the other side of the board. The rooks get tangled up defending but with a bit of manoeuvring the queens were traded, leaving the rooks to untangle freely!


The endgame injected more chances for Steven, who manages to promote at the same time as Max, despite being on the back foot – but Max had it all under control, swapping queens again. This left him with one pawn to queen again – winning the game – which originally was stuck on g6 facing an onslaught of white pawns – funny how things work out!

In the minor section there were also fireworks – for example young Kandara Acharya winning in 10 moves with a delightful discovered attack.

Kandara Acharya

Kandara 10 move win


Lovely stuff!

Congratulations to Alastair Drummond who edged out clubmate Alastair Marston (though they didn’t play against each other) by half a point.

Player photos can be found in this report, and full crosstables and playback of games in the open section can be found here.

A great congress again – many thanks to Igor Doklestic and to Geoff Gammon (arbiter) and all who contributed to the write-ups. Let’s hope the next tournament breaks the 100 mark! I certainly hope to make it and try not to get thoroughly outplayed by someone half my age!


Mike Harris

Mike is a regular pretender in Bristol’s top division and can also be seen propping up local tournament ladders. He writes a regular column for the Bristol Chess Times and plays a solid 20 openings a season.

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